Employment and COVID-19: The Changes and Effects

Employment and COVID-19: The Changes and Effects.

COVID-19 has affected the lives and jobs of approximately three million Canadians

It has now been three months since the government announced a state of emergency due to COVID-19. The countrywide shutdown has impacted the Canadian economy severely. Approximately three million Canadians have lost their jobs, and the unemployment rate peaked at an all-time high of 13.70%.  The future of employment in Canada post-pandemic isn’t 100 percent certain. Perhaps a complete re-order of current work practices and culture could ensue. An influx of once office-bound jobs may become permanently or primarily remote, and job opportunities centred around remote work will likely be common in most industries. Every Canadian has been affected in one way or another, especially when it comes to employment and COVID-19.  

Jobs and Career Options during COVID-19

If you are healthy, safe, and available to work, the Government of Canada has a job bank database for employment and COVID-19.

Your rights concerning Employment and COVID-19

You are required to report to work as usual during COVID-19, as long as it is safe to do so. Outside of the context of COVID-19 according to the Canada Labour Code, you have the right to:

  • Know
  • Participate
  • Refuse dangerous work

In the context of employment and COVID-19:

  • You have the right to refuse unsafe work related to COVID-19
  • Your employer is allowed to request that you provide personal health and travel information in concerns to COVID-19. They may only do so if the information they require is related to the workplace’s health and safety.
  • Your job is protected by the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies, 2020. This applies if the virus directly impacts you (i.e., you are sick, taking care of someone sick, taking care of children).

Extension of Canada Emergency Response Benefit coverage

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was introduced back in April. The Benefit would provide temporary, taxable income, up to $8,000, to Canadian’s who are out of work due to COVID-19. As of July, those who applied at the very beginning will have received the full $8,000, consequently ending their eligibility for further CERB payments.

Even though the economy has started to re-open, there are still more Canadian’s who are ready and able to work than there are jobs available. As a result, the government has announced that they will be extending the CERB payments by another two months. The government is still actively encouraging all Canadian’s to look for job opportunities. As of July 5, all CERB applicants will be required to sign an attestation acknowledging this.

Additionally, you should keep track of your ongoing efforts to find work. The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) may require verification to prove that you have been looking for a job when applying for each eligibility period.

What to expect post-pandemic

The future of employment and COVID-19 is vague. As the economy continues to re-open, and businesses begin to open their doors again, new health guidelines and updates will follow. Throughout this pandemic, many have come to accept the concept of remote work and its efficiency. It is fair to assume that many jobs may permanently shift to become primarily digital. This begs the question; how will employment rights and regulations change, if at all? Only time will tell.