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Bill to increase EI benefits up to 50 weeks tabled

Gatineau, Quebec: Bill C-24 to provide workers with up to 50 weeks for Employment Insurance (EI) claims that are established between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021, was introduced in parliament yesterday by Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough.

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

As part of this proposed legislation, all international travellers who need to quarantine or isolate upon their return to Canada, including people returning from vacation, would be made ineligible to receive support from any of the Canada Recovery Benefits for the period of their mandatory quarantine or isolation. These changes would be retroactive to October 2, 2020, said a government statement

As previously announced, individuals who would normally be exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirements under the Quarantine Act, such as health care workers who need to cross the border for work or truck drivers, would still be eligible to apply following their return to the country. An exemption would also apply to those who travel to receive a necessary medical treatment or to accompany someone who is travelling for such treatment and requires assistance.

As announced on Feb. 19, 2021, the government will be increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefits through regulations. This includes:

  • Increasing 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 up to 38 weeks; and,
  • Increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from the current 2 weeks to 4 weeks.

To ensure employees in the federally regulated private sector can access the proposed additional weeks of CRCB and CRSB without the risk of losing their jobs, the maximum length of the leave related to Covid-19 under the Canada Labour Code will also be extended.

“Canadian workers can be confident that our government will always be there to support them through this pandemic, regardless of where they live in Canada or who they work for. The proposed legislation put forward today is yet another step our government is taking to ensure workers in hard hit sectors, and their families, have the certainty they need as our economy recovers. In addition, at a time when so many Canadians are making sacrifices, it is so important that our supports go to those who really need it. That is why we are tightening the eligibility criteria for our COVID-19 recovery benefits and ensuring that these important measures have no unintended consequences,” said Minister Qualtrough.

Quick Facts

  • As of February 14, 2021, the numbers of unique applicants that have accessed the recovery benefits are:
    • 1,715,090 for the Canada Recovery Benefit;
    • 333,760 for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit; and
    • 392,280 for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.
  • As of February 21, 2021 there were 2,045,480 active EI regular benefit claimants
  • Individuals must meet all eligibility criteria for the Canada Recovery Benefits including the requirement to be residing in Canada and be present in Canada for the period for which the individual is making the claim.
  • On January 11, 2021, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) updated the application process for the three recovery benefits so that every applicant indicates whether they were self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel. This was done for claims covering a period beginning on or after January 3, 2021.
  • The CRA is continuing to hold the processing of claims for individuals who are self-isolating or in quarantine because of international travel until the legislative process is complete to ensure those who receive the benefit meet the latest eligibility criteria.

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