CERB transition

CERB extension delays tough questions for workers hurt by COVID-19 ...

The Federal Government has just announced CERB would be extended for another, final 4 weeks.

I have explained this program at length here. It was created in April but the benefit was back-dated to March of this year. It had already been extended once in June, for a maximum of 22 weeks or 6 eligibility periods or $ 12 000.00 gross.

Many people, who have been receiving the benefit since April, would have found themselves with no further benefits at the end of this month.

Now, CERB is available for a total of 26 weeks or 7 eligibility periods or $ 14 000.00 gross. As a reminder, CERB is fully taxable.

If you started receiving CERB after April, you can still apply until you have exhausted all 26 weeks.

So, what’s next? Until now, it was all vague and blurry.

Worry not, I’ve got you covered!

Transition to E.I. for eligible people

The Canadian government has tweaked the outdated and antiquated Employment Insurance system.

The hours needed to qualify have been lowered to 120. Prior to Covid-19, the minimum threshold was at 420 hours, i.e. the equivalent of 3 months of full-time work. And this was for the provinces with the highest unemployment rate! In BC, one used to need 750 hours to qualify for E.I.

It seems like the transition will be automatic for those who qualify.

However, the calculation of the benefit will remain the same as it previously was. The current maximum weekly benefit under E.I. is $ 573.00, gross. In order to receive this amount, you need to earn a minimum of $ 54 200 gross per year.

Yes, many people will receive less on E.I. than on CERB.

For those who don’t qualify for E.I.

The Feds have announced 3 new benefits:

  1. Canada Recovery Benefit: available for 26 weeks. full criteria still unknown at this stage, but self-employed workers will be eligible. $ 400 gross per week. Half of the benefit received will have to be repaid if earnings are above $ 38 000.00.
  2. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: available for 26 weeks for those who have to take care of their children because of school or daycare closures. Voluntarily keeping your children home doesn’t qualify you for the benefit. Also available if you’re taking care of someone sick with Covid. $ 500.00 gross per week.
  3. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: if you’re self-isolating or sick with Covid you can receive $ 1 000 gross over a 2-week period. One-time benefit.

A caveat though…

These 3 proposed benefits haven’t been approved by Parliament yet, and they haven’t received Royal Ascent either.

Our Parliament will resume at the end of September, with the Liberal Government seeking a confidence vote. If it’s not there, we could head for a general election….in the dab of a pandemic.

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