For Canadians who have suffered from the loss or reduction of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has been using the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). That was a benefit which provided Canadians with $2,000 every four weeks for Up to 28 weeks. The benefits applied to those who lost their jobs or had their hours reduced due to the pandemic. The CERB applied to individuals who did not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI).
As of this date, the CERB has paid out about $78 billion to 8.8 million Canadians. However, the CERB had a sunset clause which meant that the benefit program is now closed and is set to expire shortly. The CERB is being replaced with the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).
What is the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)?
The CRB is in many ways the old CERB program which will open applications on October 12th. The CRB will provide $500 each week for just over six months or 26 weeks. The benefits go to individuals who are not currently working or had their income reduced by at least 50% because of the pandemic. These are also individuals who do not qualify for Employment Insurance.
The CRB was created to continue the benefit package to employees who either did not have their jobs available or were working shifts of 50% or less. This means that those who were receiving benefits from the CERB can now apply for the CRB assuming their job status has not changed.
In addition to the passage of the CRB, there are other benefits included in the package as well.
- Canada Recovery Sickness: Provides two weeks of benefits of $500 per week for those who contract COVID-19 and must be isolated.
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: Provides benefits for 26 weeks at $500 per week for persons who are taking a leave of absence to care for a member of their family.
The entire CRB package is designed to cover most, if not all conditions that are affecting workers during the current pandemic. For those who seek to apply, they must check to see if they qualify first and then make the application. There may be exceptions to the qualifying process or additional requirements based on the current status of employment and working hours.
The bill also expects to include $1.5 billion for training programs that help Canadians either improve or acquire new skills to adapt to the new market. Workers who become eligible for Employment Insurance can use the EI program instead and receive a minimum of $500 per week.
The CRB along with the previous CERB was passed with some controversy in terms of the amount and direction of the funds being used. However, with the continuing pandemic it seems clear that until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed, the CRB will continue until the program sunsets in 26 weeks. At that point, if no vaccine or equivalent treatment is found, another relief program will probably be proposed.
View more information about the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).