Income supports

If you were laid off or lost your income because of COVID-19, you may be eligible to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits, EI sickness benefits, EI compassionate care and caregiving benefits, or federal or provincial recovery benefits.

Employment Insurance – Regular Benefits

Workers who have lost their job because of COVID-19 but are ready, willing and capable of work may be eligible for EI regular benefits, which provides some temporary income support while they are looking for work.

To be eligible, a worker needs to show the following:

  • they have been employed insurable employment;
  • have lost their job through no fault of their own;
  • have been without work and without pay for at least 7 consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
  • have worked for the required number of insurable hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of their last EI claim, whichever is shorter;
  • is ready, willing and capable of working each day; and
  • is actively looking for work (must keep a record of job search activities).

On August 20, 2020, the Federal Government announced temporary changes to EI benefits to make it more easily accessible to workers. In order to qualify for EI regular benefits, workers will need a minimum of 120 hours of work in the last 52 weeks or since the start of their last EI claim, whichever is shorter. The total number of insurable hours required is 420 hours. However, workers who have less than 420 hours but have at least 120 hours, will be able to receive a one-time insurable hours credit of 300 insurable hours for EI regular benefit claims. The hours credit will be available for new EI claims for one year.

Generally, workers can expect to receive a minimum benefit of $500 per week for at least 26 weeks. However, workers receiving EI regular benefits are required to make reasonable and ongoing job search efforts, and to report such efforts for the duration of the claim.

Workers who were previously receiving CERB through Service Canada will be transitioned to EI regular benefits if they are eligible and require it. Workers who were previously receiving CERB through the CRA will need to apply for EI regular benefits through Service Canada.

Click here for more information about EI regular benefits, including how to apply.

Click here for more information on the changes to EI regular benefits.

Employment Insurance – Sickness Benefits

Workers who are unable to work because of sickness, injury, or quarantine may be eligible to apply for EI sickness benefits, which provides for temporary income support for up to 15 weeks. If the employer offers paid sick leave or short-term disability program, workers should access those entitlements first before applying for EI sickness benefits. Workers who sustained an injury at the workplace including contracting COVID-19 should make a claim with WorkSafeBC. For workers who do not have paid sick leave or short-term disability benefits, they can apply for EI sickness benefits right away as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

To be eligible, a worker needs to show the following:

  • they are unable to work for medical reasons;
  • their weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week; and
  • they have accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the past 52 weeks before the start of their claim or since the start of their last claim, whichever is shorter. This is known as the “qualifying period”.

Workers who have not accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the qualifying period, but have at least 120 insured hours, will still be eligible for EI sickness benefits due to recent temporary changes made by the Federal Government. If a worker has at least 120 insured hours, they can receive a one-time insurable hours credit of 480 insurable hours for EI sickness claims. The hours credit will be available for new EI claims for one year.

If you do not have 120 insured hours, you may still be eligible to claim the new Canada Recovery Sickness benefit, which is available for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must isolate due to COVID-19. See below for more information.

Normally to qualify for sickness benefits, workers need to provide a medical certificate showing they are unable to work for medical reasons. In March 2020, the Federal Government announced medical certificates are no longer required from people claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine related to COVID-19. In addition, the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined due to COVID-19 so that they can be paid for the first week of their claim. Workers who are unable to complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay.

Generally, workers can expect to receive a minimum benefit of $500 per week, but the exact amount and duration of benefits will depend on the workers’ insurable earnings and expected date of recovery.

Click here for more information about EI sickness benefits including how to apply.

Click here for more information on the changes to EI sickness benefits.

EI compassionate care and caregiving benefits

EI compassionate care and caregiving benefits are paid to people who have to take time off work to provide care or support to a critically ill or injured person or someone needing end-of-life care.

To qualify for EI caregiving benefits, one must demonstrate that:

  • they are a family member of the person who is critically ill or injured or needing end-of-life care, or are considered to be like a family member;
  • their regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week because they needed to take time away from work to provide care or support to the person;
  • they accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of the claim, or since the start of their last claim, whichever is shorter;
  • a medical doctor or nurse practitioner has certified that the person

Workers who have not accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the qualifying period, but have at least 120 insured hours, will still be eligible for EI caregiving benefits due to recent temporary changes made by the Federal Government. If a worker has at least 120 insured hours, they can receive a one-time insurable hours credit of 480 insurable hours for EI caregiving claims. The hours credit will be available for new EI claims for one year.

If you do not have 120 insured hours, you may still be eligible to claim the new Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit. See below for more information.

Generally, workers can expect to receive a minimum benefit of $500 per week, but the exact amount and duration of benefits will depend on the workers’ insurable earnings and the expected date that the critically ill or injured person will no longer require care.

Click here for more information about EI compassionate care and caregiving benefits, including how to apply.

Click here for more information on the changes to EI compassionate care and caregiving benefits.

Federal recovery benefits

The Federal Government offers two recovery benefits to support people who continue to face financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic: Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

The benefits are effective from September 27, 2020, and have been extended to March 7, 2022. They are taxable. To receive any of the new recovery benefits, workers will have to apply through the CRA.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides $500 per week for up to 2 weeks to workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. The benefit is available to workers who:

  • are unable to work at least 50% of their scheduled work because they either
    • are sick with COVID-19 or may have COVID-19;
    • are advised by their employer, medical practitioner, the government or public health authority to self-isolate due to COVID-19; or
    • have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19
  • are a resident in Canada and at least 15 years of age;
  • have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
  • earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or the 12 months before the application; and
  • have not applied for or received any of the following benefits for the same period: Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, EI benefits or paid leave from the employer.

Workers would not be required to provide a medical certificate to qualify for the benefits. Workers cannot claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefits and other paid sick leave for the same benefit period, and if they have, the worker may have to pay back the benefit. Workers would need to have missed a minimum of 50% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit. Workers would need to apply after the one-week period if they are seeking continued income support. The benefit is available between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Applications are now open for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit at the Canada Revenue Agency’s website or by telephone at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

Click here for more information about the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, including how to apply.

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit provides a benefit of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible Canadians who are unable to work because they need to provide care to children or support other dependents at home. To be eligible, a worker would need to:

  • reside and be present in Canada;
  • be at least 15 years of age;
  • have a valid Social Insurance Number;
  • have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020;
  • have been unable to work for at least 50% of their normally scheduled work within a given week because of one of the following conditions:
    • they must take care of a child who is under 12 years of age on the first day of the period for which the benefit is claimed:
    • because their school or daycare is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • who cannot attend school or daycare under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19, or
    • because the caregiver who usually provides care is not available for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or
  • they must provide care to a family member with a disability or a dependent:
    • because their day program or care facility is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to COVID-19
    • who cannot attend their day program or care facility under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19, or
    • because the caregiver who usually provides care is not available for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • not be in receipt of paid leave from an employer in respect of the same week, and
  • not be in receipt of the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or any EI benefits or paid leave from the Employer for the same week.    

Workers would have to apply after the period in which they are seeking income support, and only one member per household can receive the benefit at a time.

Applications are now open for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit at the Canada Revenue Agency’s website or by telephone at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

Click here for more information about the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, including how to apply.

Provincial recovery benefits
Rent increase freeze

The B.C. government is extending its freeze on new annual rent increases until December 31, 2021
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/residential-tenancies/covid-19#RI

ICBC deferrals and waived fees

ICBC customers on a monthly payment plan who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19 can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.
https://www.icbc.com/insurance/buy-renew-cancel/Insurance-payment-plan/Pages/Default.aspx