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Ottawa announces three new COVID-19 employment benefits

Thursday, September 24, 2020 @ 5:13 PM | By Ian Burns

The federal government has revealed plans to create three new temporary benefits to help support Canadians who are unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough revealed the initiatives Sept. 24. If passed, the new benefits would provide income support to Canadians while promoting economic recovery by introducing measures that encourage people to safely return to work.

“Canadians have shown tremendous strength in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and we know that it is still here with us. Our government remains committed to supporting Canadians,” said Freeland. “These measures will make sure Canadians continue to have the income supports they need and that we continue to provide sufficient resources for the fight against COVID-19.”

Bill C-2, An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19, would establish a Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support, as well as a Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) of $500 per week for up to two weeks for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19 would also be created.

The bill would also set up the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, daycares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine. Canadians will be able to apply for the CRB, CRSB and CRCB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for one year up until Sept. 25, 2021.

“It is vital that Canadians have access to income support that reflects the impacts the pandemic has on their employment,” said National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier. “With the CRA’s proven success in delivering Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Canada Emergency Student Benefit payments to millions of Canadians when they needed it most, I am confident in our ability to continue to administer these important recovery benefits.”

As part of Bill C-2, the government also plans amend and extend the application of the Public Health Event of National Concern Payments Act (PHENCPA) to Dec. 31. Enacted in March at the beginning of the pandemic, PHENCPA enables the government to access the funds required for a significant part of the COVID-19 response measures that make up Canada’s economic response plan. The bill also includes proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code to ensure that federally regulated employees have access to job-protected leave to ensure they can avail themselves of the proposed benefits.

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