Bill C-4, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19, received royal assent on October 2, 2020. With the passing of this legislation, three new temporary social benefits have been introduced for Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which came to an end on September 26, 2020.
Canada Recovery Benefit
The CRB will provide eligible workers with $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, in the event they are unable to work and are not eligible for EI, or have had their income reduced by at least 50%, for reasons relating to COVID-19.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
The CRSB provides eligible workers with $500 per week for up to a maximum of two weeks when they are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they are sick, need to self-isolate, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.
Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
The CRSB provides eligible workers with $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household of workers unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or a family member who needs supervised care. Qualifying circumstances are those in which schools, daycares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19, or because the child or family member is sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19.
These new temporary benefits will be in place until September 2021. Applications for the CRSB and CRCB are being processed by the Canada Revenue Agency and have been open since October 5, 2020. Applications for the CRB will open on October 12, 2020.
Additional information regarding the benefits, eligibility criteria, and application process can be found online here.
Takeaways for Employers
At the outset of the pandemic, and in some cases before any social assistance or government benefits were available, many businesses implemented paid leave programs and other supports for workers affected by COVID-19. In light of the introduction of these new temporary government benefits, employers may wish to review their internal policies and programs to ensure they are still achieving their intended purpose and, further, that they are not in conflict with the federal benefit program. Employers who may be looking to repeal company-funded leave or benefit programs will also want to carefully consider how to mitigate any potential constructive dismissal risks that may arise in doing so.
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