COVID-19: What You Need To Know About Emergency Benefits

COVID-19: What You Need To Know About Emergency Benefits


Updated November 13th, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the entire world by surprise. It’s causing so much more than health problems for people across the globe. Entire cities are being shut down, businesses have been forced to close, and millions of employers worldwide have been sending people home. For some, being sent home doesn’t mean losing their job, as many employers have been able to send their staff home to continue working as usual and to continue earning their regular paycheck.

But what about those of us who have to send employees home without the “continue working from home” option?  What about the thousands of Canadians who have been laid off or “let go until further notice”? There’s no way to know when the virus will be eradicated, or when businesses will be given the okay to open up again. 

This COVID-19 pandemic has sent us in a loop medically, socially, financially, and economically. However, the Canadian government has stepped up and is doing what they can to help everyone out in our time of need. Many Canadians are caught up in the fact that they just lost their jobs, they have a family to support, and they don’t know where to start. So, it’s important that you, as their employer, can provide them with some guidance.

We’ve updated this blog with the latest information about new, extended, and now-expired emergency benefits.

What options are available to employees unable to work due to COVID-19?

Regular EI | Employment Insurance

If your employees have been laid off due to the virus, and they fall under the regular EI guidelines, they can still apply for regular Employment Insurance benefits during this time.

They will still qualify for EI as they would if they were applying at any other time, if they:

  • Were employed in insurable employment
  • 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 your last EI claim, whichever is shorter
  • Are ready, willing and capable of working each day 
  • Are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of potential employers that you have contacted and include when you contacted them),

The Canadian EI website has step by step instructions, application forms and Q & A pages available for all applicants. 

Extension Of Lay-Off Periods

In response to COVID-19, certain lay-off periods established under the Canada Labour Standards Regulations have been extended temporarily.

This gives more protection to federally regulated workplaces and provides employers with more time to recall employees that were laid-off due to COVID-19.

Before this extension of lay-off periods, employees would be laid-off for 3-6 months if a recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the lay-off. After this time period passes the lay-off becomes a termination.
These are temporary changes and the extension provisions won’t apply to lay-offs after December 31, 2020.

CERB | Canadian Emergency Response Benefit 

The CERB was in place since early April and was an emergency benefit that would provide individuals (who don’t qualify for regular EI) with $2000 a month for a total of 16 weeks. 

Unfortunately, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit has since ended and is no longer available to individuals.

CERS | The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy 

This emergency rent subsidy would provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support to qualifying organizations.

Qualifying businesses, charities and non-profits will get a subsidy of up to 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020

Lockdown Support

Qualifying organizations that are affected by the mandatory lockdown will be able to receive an additional 25% of rent support with CERS.

The CERS including the Lockdown Support will be available until June 2021.

It is pending the passage of legislation in the House of Commons and Senate.

CEWS | Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy 

The Canadian government is covering a portion of employee wages for eligible employers. This wage subsidy is in place to support you, your business and help you re-hire employees and avoid layoffs. 

The wage subsidy will remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65% of eligible wages until December 19, 2020. A proposal has been put in place to extend CEWS until June 2021.

CEBA | Canada Emergency Business Account 

On top of this wage subsidy, the Government of Canada is offering qualifying small businesses a loan of up to $40,000, interest free until December 31, 2022 to help them stay afloat during this time.  25% of the $40,000 would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.

At the moment, you can only apply for Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) until December 31, 2020. 

They have recently proposed to expand CEBA to include an additional interest-free $20,000 loan. 50% of the new $20,000 loan would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. They are going to be announcing details for expanding the program soon.

Our government is truly working hard to support everyone at this time. They have pulled over 1,300 employees from all other government departments to work on claims and phone calls. Their staff is working around the clock to support the country, its businesses, and its residents.

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Export Development Canada (EDC), through the Business Credit Availability Program, is working alongside financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million for small and medium-sized enterprises.

This financing support is to be used for operational expenses and the program is available at various banks and credit unions. 
It will be available until June 2021.

Our entire team at BP Group Solutions understands the stress and panic in a situation like this. We are here and available via webchat or telephone to offer advice and direction to you and your employees. Please reach out to us if you have any further questions or concerns regarding the available financial emergency benefits during this time.

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