Update – Canada Emergency Response Benefit and wage boost for essential workers

Department of Finance Canada made an announcement this week. They want to make sure that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit helps the people who need it. How? They have extended the eligibility requirements with the aim of being more inclusive. We recently published an article which explains everything you need to know  about employment insurance benefits and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit  (CERB):

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 also applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and are unable to work due to COVID-19.

After the first announcement about the CERB, many Canadians were not sure whether they were eligible. Now, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, also qualify for the CERB.

Below are the changes announced by the government to the eligibility requirements:

  • allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB;
  • extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

There is also a wage boost for low-income workers considered essential in the fight against COVID-19. The Government of Canada will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to share costs. According to the website,

The Government of Canada will cover a portion of the cost of providing temporary financial support to these low-income workers, thereby helping to support employers in keeping their workers on staff, while also ensuring fairness. Through this new transfer, provinces and territories will be able to provide their low-income essential workers (those who earn less than $2,500 per month), with a top up.  We continue to work with provinces and territories on the delivery of this measure.

Quebec and British Columbia have already implemented direct wage support for low-income workers in the essential service sectors. The federal government will be sharing the cost of this wage support through the new transfer to these provinces. We will keep you updated on new announcements.


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