Federal government’s COVID-19 response: Income supports for affected workers
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has launched a multi-billion-dollar aid package that provides income supports and benefits for workers who are financially impacted by the crisis.
Below is a summary of the supports and benefits that are being made available to Canadian workers and their families, with details on who qualifies and how you can apply, as well as links to government webpages for further details.
Going forward, this page will be updated as more details become available, and as additional supports are announced.
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
March 25, 2020
- Federal emergency aid package increases from $27 billion to $52 billion.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is announced:
- The CERB is a taxable benefit that provides $2,000 per month for up to 4 months for workers who have lost their jobs to due COVID-19.
- The benefit combines the previously announced “Emergency Care Benefit” and “Emergency Support Benefit.”
- It will be available to people who must care for children at home, people who are quarantined, workers who are full-time and part-time, as well as contract and self-employed workers who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
- This benefit is also available for people who are employed but are not earning income due to disruptions at work because of coronavirus.
- The CERB will be paid every four weeks from March 15, 2020 to Oct 3, 2020, and will be available by April 6, 2020.
- Click here for more info on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
- The government will be implementing the Quarantine Act by midnight to impose a mandatory and legal obligation of a 14-day self-isolation period for all people arriving into Canada from another country – more information forthcoming.
- Bill C-13, the federal government’s COVID-19 Emergency Response legislation, receives Royal Assent.
March 24, 2020
- The Liberal government’s proposed Bill C-13 to respond to the COVID-19 emergency is passed by the House of Commons. It will now go to the Senate.
March 18, 2020
- The government says it is implementing the First Phase of its COVID-19 Economic Responseand has allotted $27 Billion to this aid package.
- More info here.
Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents
Emergency Care Benefits
These are for Canadians who are 1) quarantined or sick due to COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI; 2) caring for family members who are sick (e.g. an elderly parent); and 3) parents who are unable to work due to school and daycare closures.
- The benefit provides up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks.
- Who qualifies: workers, self-employed workers, contractors, freelancers, part-time and gig-economy workers, cultural workers, and entrepreneurs .
- Will not require medical documentation, only “attestation” every two-weeks.
- Will be available early April 2020.
- Can apply online at home.
- More information:
- How to Apply for COVID-19 Emergency Care Benefits;
- Application for COVID-19 Emergency Care Benefits;
- The government has also set up a separate phone line to answer questions related to EI benefits and COVID-19. The phone number is: 1-833-381-2725
Long-Term Income Support
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID-19.
Emergency Support Benefit
- The government has set $4 billion aside for this benefit but has yet to provide more details.
- Will be available by early April 2020.
Additional Income Support for Canadians
GST Credit for 2019 – 2020
- This is a one-time special payment available by early May through a GST credit for 2019-2020.
- Averaging $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
- Those with children will receive a Canada Child Benefit top up of $300 per child, also available by May 2020.
For Indigenous Communities
- Providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities.
- Available by April 2020.
- 6-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for those currently in the process of repaying these loans
- Available by April 2020.
- Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF) by 25 percent in 2020.
- Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will continue as usual, with no interruptions.
Homeless and Women & Children Fleeing Violence
- $200 million will be put towards supporting individuals experiencing homelessness during COVID-19.
- Can be put towards purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.
- $50 million of this effort will be put towards women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.This includes funding for Indigenous communities.
- Will be available by April 2020.
Support for Businesses
The government intends to help businesses keep their workers.
- It is proposing to provide small business owners with a 10 percent temporary wage subsidy for the next three months.
- The subsidy will be a maximum of $1,375 for each employee and/or $25,000 for every employer.
- More info here
- The federal government will work with the Government of Alberta on how best to support workers in the oil and gas industries. Details forthcoming.
- Additional details here.
March 11, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the federal government has rolled out a $1 billion package to help the country’s health system and economy.The package includes the following measures:
Elimination of 1-Week Waiting Period for EI Benefits
For people quarantined due to COVID-19, the government is eliminating the one-week waiting period for EI benefits entirely.
- This is for Canadians who are employed, pay EI premiums, and who worked a minimum of 600 hours in the year before the claim or since their last EIclaim.
- Note is not required to get sick-leave benefits.
- Budgeted cost for this program is $5 million.
- More details here.
EI Work Sharing Program
- Provides EI Benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours as a result of developments beyond the control of their employer.
- More details here.