From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has been there for Canadians and provided them with the support they need to stay healthy, safe and solvent. Many workers and families across the country continue to face uncertain times as a result of the difficult but necessary public health measures put in place to save lives.
That is why the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, today announced the Government of Canada’s intent to introduce regulatory and legislative amendments to increase the number of weeks of benefits available for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits.
As some workers could begin to exhaust their benefits in late March, this increase would ensure continued support as Canada’s economy and labour force recovers. It would also provide additional access to the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, so that Canadians do not have to make the choice between going to work sick and putting food on the table.
The proposed changes would:
- increase 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 through regulation from 26 weeks to up to 38 weeks;
- increase the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) through regulation from the current 2 weeks to 4 weeks; and
- increase the number of weeks of EI regular benefits available by up to 24 weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks through legislation, for claims that are made between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
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 would also be extended.
Provincial and territorial governments will determine whether they need to amend their job-protected leaves in order to facilitate employees’ access to the proposed additional weeks of CRSB and CRCB benefits.
Subject to the legislation receiving Royal Assent, 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.
By increasing the number of available weeks for these important benefits, the Government is giving certainty to workers in hard hit sectors and their families, and better positioning our economy to recover.