How to Apply for EI and Other Coronavirus Emergency Funding

CERB
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As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country topped 3,385 and deaths hit 35 Wednesday evening, more Canadians are experiencing mass layoffs, with millions of residents already turning to the federal government’s emergency funding programs for support.

With the number of cases expected to increase and the possibility of things returning back to normal by April 6 seeming highly unlikely, Canadians who have lost their jobs or cannot work because of the coronavirus should find out if they are eligible for financial support from the federal government, which has a number of emergency measures in place to assist workers who might not normally qualify for employment insurance (EI) or are currently caring for sick family members, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government’s latest program, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which will provide $2,000 a month for the next four months to anyone affected by COVID-19.

The CERB combines two benefits programs announced last week – the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit – in an effort to streamline the process. Those who have lost their job, are home ill with coronavirus, or simply not receiving payment from their job, will be eligible.

The single benefit is designed to make it easier for Canadians to apply and receive money, including contract workers and those that are self-employed.

With new programs being announced regularly, it’s a lot of information to process, let alone figure out what you’re actually eligible for. To try and make your lives slightly easier during this unprecedented time, we’ve put together a guide on the available and soon-to-be-available emergency funding programs in Canada and their requirements.

Benefit: Employment Insurance

Who does it cover?

If you have paid into EI, lost your job through no fault of your own, have worked enough insurable hours, or been without work and pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks, you are eligible to file for EI benefits. You need between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment, depending on the unemployment rate in your region, to qualify for regular benefits.

If you are still unsure if you’re eligible for EI benefits, you can submit an application online and the government will let you know.

But keep in mind you should submit your application for benefits immediately after you stop working because if you delay longer than four weeks you may lose your benefits. You can also still apply if you haven’t received your record of employment (ROE) from the employer where you worked.

How much will I receive?

While it does depend on each person, the basic rate is 55% of a worker’s average insurable weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $573 a week, or about $2,292 a month.

When will I start receiving benefits?

Typically workers will receive their first payment within 28 days of the government receiving your application and all the required documents.

How long will the benefits be available?

EI ranges from 14 weeks to a maximum of 45 weeks. It depends on the number of insurable hours you’ve accumulated in the last 52 weeks or since your last EI claim, whichever period is shorter.

What do I need to apply?

To apply online, you will need your social insurance number (SIN), details about when you lost your job, and how much you earned. You can find a full list of all the things to prepare before you start applying here.

Benefit: Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Who does it cover?

The CERB covers Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB.

Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose applications haven’t been processed would have to reapply to get the CERB once the portal is available. Additionally, workers who are eligible for EI and sickness benefits would still be able to get normal EI benefits if they are still unemployed after the four months covered by the CERB.

How much will I receive?

Applicants will receive $2,000 a month.

When will I start receiving benefits?

The government says it plans to have an online portal open by April 6 and money will start being deposited within 10 days after you apply.

How long will the benefits be available?

The CERB will be paid every four weeks for up to four months and will be available until October 3, 2020.

What do I need to apply?

The government has not yet outlined details about what documents or details you need to apply for the CERB.

emergency funding
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Benefit: EI sickness benefits

Who does it cover?

Any Canadian that is currently sick or under quarantine and qualifies for EI can apply for EI sickness benefits immediately. You can apply online or by calling 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

To be eligible for EI sickness benefits, you must be able to show that you cannot work for medical reasons, your regular weekly earnings from work are down more than 40% for at least one week, and that you accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim.

How much will I receive?

Up to 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 per week.

When will I start receiving benefits?

Those who are eligible can get up to 15 weeks of financial assistance. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the government is waiving the one-week waiting period for new claimants who are quarantined.

How long will the benefits be available?

Approved applicants should receive their first payment within 28 days of the government receiving your application and all the required documents.

What do I need to apply?

Those applying for EI sickness benefits will need their SIN, previous employer data and bank information, among other things. A full list can be found here. Additionally, if you are claiming EI sickness benefits because of the COVID-19 virus or quarantine you no longer need to provide a medical certificate. Ask your employer for your record of employment (ROE), but you can apply without it.

Benefit: EI caregiver benefits

Who does it cover?

If you are taking care of someone who is critically ill or injured or needing end-of-life care and you qualify for EI, you can receive caregiver benefits. As a caregiver, you don’t have to be related to or live with the person you care for or support, but they must consider you to be like family.

To be eligible, and if you’re not a family member, you need a form completed by the ill person or their legal representative. You must then be able to show your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week because you need to take time away from work to provide care or support to the person,

You must also show that you’ve accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim, or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter. For example, 600 hours is equivalent to 15 weeks of work at 40 hours per week

Additionally, a medical doctor or nurse practitioner must certify that the person you are providing care or support to is critically ill or injured or needing end-of-life care

How much will I receive?

Through EI you can get up to 55% of your earnings to a maximum of $573 per week.

When will I start receiving benefits?

You can get receive between 15 and 35 weeks of benefits.

How long will the benefits be available?

Approved applicants should receive their first payment within 28 days of the government receiving your application and all the required documents.

What do I need to apply?

Your record of employment, a medical certificate, employer information, your SIN, and other documents. A full list of eligibility rules can be found here.

If you’re eligible for assistance and you want to apply, prepare all of your documents ahead of time, and if you’re applying online, complete the application all at once.

Additionally, anyone who is sick, experiencing symptoms, or is in self-isolation or quarantined should not go to a Service Canada office to apply in person.

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