Since March, governments across Canada have worked to deliver supports to Canadians whose income or employment has been impacted by COVID-19. The federal government has primarily been responsible for providing income and financial support to workers, except for provincial/territorial social assistance programs and varying student and caregiving support. As parts of Canada begin to enter into a second wave, income supports remain an important part of Canada’s COVID-19 response to maintain the public’s health and safety.
The federal government recently decided to end the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and create two new benefits for those continuing to incur employment losses. Additionally, the government created a new paid sick leave program for workers who don’t have access to paid sick days through their employer.
These new benefits are a direct result of pressure from opposition parties and advocacy campaigns over the last seven months that called on the federal government to provide adequate financial support to workers, particularly to vulnerable and low-income groups.
Here is an updated list of federal financial supports available to workers:
Employment Insurance program (EI)
Those who were formerly on CERB may qualify for this benefit. This benefit is available for those who lost their job or are temporarily unable to work due to sickness or caregiving duties and have also accumulated 120 insurable hours in the past year. This benefit is not available to those who have quit or lost their job due to a fault of their own.
Canada Recovery Benefit
Those who were formerly on CERB may qualify for this benefit. Provides $500 a week for up to 26 weeks for workers who have stopped working who had their income reduced due to COVID-19 and who aren’t eligible for Employment Insurance.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (paid sick days program)
A $500 a week benefit for workers who are unable to work because they have contracted COVID-19, self-isolating for reasons related to COVID, or have underlying conditions or undergoing treatments that make you susceptible to COVID-19.
Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit
A $500 a week benefit workers who have to care for a child or family member or who have a high risk of serious health implications due to COVID-19.
One-time disability benefit
A one time $600 benefit for Canadians with disabilities.
Advocacy Groups and Campaigns
COVID-19 financial supports extend beyond providing direct and/or temporary financial relief. Public programs like national pharmacare and child care are needed to ensure access isn’t determined by ability to pay for these increasingly high cost necessities. Additionally, provinces must do their part to ensure social assistance and provincial worker programs and employment legislation are updated to reflect the conditions of precarious and gig workers. From raising wages to providing permanent paid sick leave, here is a list of some of the advocacy organizations calling on governments to act:
- $15 & Fairness
- Acorn Canada & provincial chapters
- Canadian Doctors for Medicare
- Child Care Now
- Decent Work and Health Network
- Migrant Rights Network
- Pharmacare Now
- The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness (Recovery for All)
Do you have an organization or campaign you think we should include? Let us know by contacting us at [email protected]