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On March 25, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) to support workers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB program provided workers who had stopped working due to COVID-19 with up to $2,000.00 per month up to September 26, 2020.

With the closure of the CERB program, the federal government has amended the Employment Insurance (“EI”) program in order to increase access. The following changes will be implemented:

  • Extending the qualifying period from twelve (12) weeks to sixteen (16) weeks;
  • Granting of a one-time credit of insurance hours for applicants with a minimum of 120 qualifying hours;
  • Waiving of the waiting period for regular, sickness or maternity/parental EI claimants;
  • Implementing a minimum unemployment rate to determine benefits;
  • Implementing a minimum benefit rate of $400.00 per week; and
  • Freezing the EI premium rates at the 2020 level for at least two (2) years.

In addition, the Government of Canada has introduced three (3) new benefit streams, including the:

  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (“CRSB”);
  • Canada Recovery Benefit; and
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

Lastly, the federal government has also implemented Work-Sharing temporary special measures to support employers and workers affected by COVID-19.

From March 15, 2020, until March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada is introducing the following temporary special measures:

  • Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from thirty-eight (38) weeks to seventy-six (76) weeks;
  • Waiver of the mandatory cooling-off period for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement;
  • Reduction of the previous requirements for a Recovery Pan to a single line of text in the application form;
  • Reduction of the requirement and expansion of eligible employers affected by accepting business who have been in business for only one (1) year rather than two (2), and eliminate the burden of having to provide sales/production figures at the same time; and
  • Expansion of eligible staff to include those who are essential to recovery, Government Business Enterprises (“GBEs”) and not-for-profit organization employers.

If you have any questions regarding the above as it relates to your employment, layoff or termination, contact Toronto employment lawyers, Sultan Lawyers, at (416) 214-5111 or via email to mlahert@sultanlawyers.com.