Canadian government extends EI and COVID-19 emergency benefits

Mar 18 2021, 1:03 pm

The Government of Canada has extended Employment Insurance (EI) and COVID-19 emergency benefits for those who have been impacted by the pandemic.

On Thursday, the federal government said to help workers who have been affected by COVID-19, legislation has been put forward to increase the maximum number of weeks available through EI regular benefits.

Last night, Bill C-24 was passed, so workers claiming EI can access the benefit for up to a maximum of 50 weeks for claims established between September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021.

In addition, self-employed workers who have opted in to the EI program to access special benefits are now able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000, compared to the previous threshold of $7,555 — this change is retroactive for claims established as of January 3, 2021 and applies until September 25, 2021.

“The passing of this legislation provides certainty to the hardest-hit Canadian workers and their families and follows through on our promise to always be there for them through this pandemic. It is allowing us to continue offering income support to millions of Canadians while also providing them with access to important resources and tools to get back into the workforce,” said Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough in a statement.

“Our labour market gained 259,000 jobs last month, which is a demonstration of how our plan to create a million jobs and promote middle-class growth is working. We know this is still a really difficult time for many workers and their families, especially those whose job is taking longer to return. We will continue to be there for them and make sure that our supports go to those who really need it.”

In addition to Bill C-24, new regulations increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefits have come into effect.

This includes an increase in the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by 12 weeks, extending the maximum duration of the benefits from 26 weeks to 38 weeks.

It also includes an increase in the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from two weeks to four weeks. Individuals can access these additional weeks through the Canada Revenue Agency beginning on Thursday.

Also, as part of the legislation, all international travellers who need to quarantine or isolate upon their return to Canada — including people returning from vacation — are ineligible to receive support from any of the recovery benefits for the period of their mandatory quarantine.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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