COVID-19, Employment Insurance and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Badre Law - Employment Lawyers

Many people have been impacted by the coronavirus. So far, in Canada, there have been over one million jobs lost through layoffs. You may be entitled to compensation in the form of notice pay or severance pay. As people sort their claims out with their employers they will need to have their bills paid. Employment Insurance (EI) can assist.

How Employment Insurance Works

Employment Insurance is an insurance program that allows individuals who have recently lost a job to receive temporary financial assistance. Always apply to EI as soon as you stop working. You do not need to receive your Record of Employment (ROE) before making an application. If you wait for more than four weeks to make a claim under Employment Insurance then you may lose your right to claim the benefit.

Qualifying for EI

According to the Government of Canada, you may be entitled to Employment Insurance if you:

  • were employed in insurable employment;
  • lost your job through no fault of your own;
  • have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
  • have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter;
  • are ready, willing and capable of working each day;
  • are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them).

How is the Value of EI Calculated?

For most, employment insurance is calculated as 55% of your average weekly insurance earnings up to a certain amount. In 2020, the maximum yearly insurable earnings is $54,200.00 for a maximum weekly amount of $573.00. You will receive EI benefits for at least 14 weeks up to a maximum of 45 weeks, depending on where you live.

Changes to EI in Light of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The coronavirus has brought on a serious need to process these applications in an expedited manner. Service Canada has made a number of different changes in order to help Canadians access support in a frictionless manner:

  • Service Canada eliminated the one week waiting period for EI sickness benefits.
  • Medical certificates are not required in order to claim EI sickness benefits.
  • Those who are unable to complete their claim for EI sickness benefits because of their quarantine can apply later and get backpay.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit – An Additional Measure

The government has also introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). It provides up to $500.00/week for 16 weeks. The CERB benefit will be available to workers:

  • Who reside in Canada and are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working due to COVID-19 and who did not quit voluntarily;
  • Who made at least $5,000.00 in 2019 or $5,000.00 in the 12 months prior to their application; and
  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.

The CERB is only available to those who have stopped working specifically due to COVID-19.

Employment Insurance and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit are just two of the benefits that the government has implemented to assist people during this pandemic. These benefits will provide you with support to pay bills and other costs as you look for supplemental income.