As the country continues to respond to the financial shock from the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadians will be turning to the federal government’s economic aid package for financial assistance.
As part of the new COVID-19 emergency fund, which is intended to help individuals who have been laid off or are unable to work because of the global pandemic, the Canadian government is expanding the Employment Insurance (EI) program.
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Now, Canadians who wouldn’t ordinarily qualify for EI benefits and are quarantined can apply for sickness benefits and receive 15 weeks of income replacement, according to the Government of Canada’s website.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first announced the aid package on Thursday, and on Friday, CBC reported that 500,000 applications for EI benefits and financial assistance were already submitted this week.
That’s a 1750% increase from last year when just 27,000 applications were submitted during the same time period.
The PM says 500K applications for EI/financial assistance this week vs 27K last year.
— Vassy Kapelos (@VassyKapelos) March 20, 2020
While the emergency benefits won’t be rolled out until the coming weeks, Service Canada says it’s ready to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:
- The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim.
- Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period.
- People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate.
- People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay.