Extension of the CERB, Changes to EI, and Introduction of New Recovery Benefits

August 24, 2020

On August 20, 2020, Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced: (a) the extension of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the “CERB”); (b) upcoming changes to the Employment Insurance (“EI”) program; and (c) plans for three new benefits intended to take effect after the CERB program winds down.  The full press release can be viewed here.

CERB Extension

The CERB program will be extended by an additional 4 weeks, bringing the total duration of the program to 28 weeks (ending September 26, 2020).  Once the CERB ends, Canadians who are eligible for EI will be able to transition to EI or apply for one of the Government’s three new income-support programs: the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (the “Recovery Benefits”).

Changes to EI

Ministers Freeland and Qualtrough announced temporary changes to the EI program which are intended to last one year.  Broadly speaking, the changes: (a) ease the eligibility rules; (b) set minimum benefit levels; and (c) increase the maximum duration of regular EI benefits.  More particularly, the changes include:

    • Hours Credits to Enhance Access to EI Regular Benefit and EI Special Benefits: A temporary, one-time credit of insurable hours for Canadians – a credit of 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits and 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver).  This is intended to enable individuals who have completed a minimum of 120 hours of insurable work within the eligibility period to qualify for EI.
    • Minimum EI Unemployment Rate Across Canada: A minimum unemployment rate of 13.1 percent for all EI economic regions.  This measure is effective for one year starting on August 9, 2020.
    • Minimum Entitlement Duration: A minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of regular EI benefits.
    • Minimum Benefit Rate: A minimum benefit rate of at least $400 per week (or $240 per week for extended parental benefits) for new EI claimants as of September 27, 2020.

The federal government will also freeze the EI insurance premium rates for two years so Canadian workers and businesses will not face immediate increases to costs and payroll deductions due to the additional expenses resulting from the pandemic.

New Recovery Benefits

In addition to the temporary changes to the EI program, the federal government announced the Recovery Benefits to take effect after the CERB program ends on September 26, 2020.  These benefits are:

    • the Canada Recovery Benefit;
    • the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit; and
    • the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

For more information on these updates, including details on the new recovery benefits, please see our August 24, 2020, COVID-19 bulletin (see link below).

COVID-19 Bulletin – August 24, 2020

For questions on any information contained in today’s bulletin, please feel free to reach out to a member of our firm.

All our previous COVID-19 information bulletins can be found on Roper Greyell’s COVID-19 resource page.