The Government of Canada is continuing to take action to support Canadians during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a transition to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program, effective September 27, 2020, to provide income support to teachers who remain unable to work and are eligible, plus new suite of temporary and taxable recovery benefits to which can support teachers in other circumstances. (2021 03 21)
Summary of temporary measures to help Canadians access EI benefits
- 120 hours of work required to qualify
- Minimum benefit rate of $400 per week
- At least 50 weeks of regular benefits
I have heard that the hours needed to qualify for EI Regular Benefit and EI Special Benefits have been reduced. Is this correct?
Access to EI benefits is normally based on the number of insurable hours an individual has worked in the year prior to their application, or since their last claim. This is known as their qualifying period. However, the Government of Canada recognizes that the pandemic has prevented many Canadians from accumulating the number of insurable hours that is normally required. To help individuals qualify with a minimum of 120 hours of work, EI claimants will receive a one-time insurable hours credit of:
- 300 insurable hours for claims for regular benefits (job loss)
- 480 insurable hours for claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver)
The hours credit will also be made retroactive to March 15, 2020 for claimants who were looking to transition early from the CERB to EI maternity, parental, compassionate care, family caregiver or work-sharing benefits but could not establish their EI claim due to insufficient hours. For these claimants, the qualifying period will also be extended.
The hours credit will be available for new EI claims for one year, in recognition that labour market conditions remain uncertain and will take time to stabilize. (2021 03 21)
What is the Minimum EI Unemployment Rate in Alberta?
To help eligible Canadians transition from CERB back into the EI system and into the labour force, a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% is being used for all EI economic regions in order to lower the hours required to qualify for EI regular benefits. This measure is effective for one year starting on August 9, 2020. Individuals in EI regions with an unemployment rate lower than 13.1% will have their EI benefits calculated on the basis of the 13.1% rate, while those in regions with a higher rate will have their benefits calculated using the actual higher rate. (2021 03 21)
Is there any change to the Minimum Benefit Rate?
As of September 27, 2020 new EI claimants will receive a minimum benefit rate of $400 per week (or $240 for extended parental benefits), if this is higher than what their benefits would otherwise be.
The EI benefit rate is typically based on a worker’s average weekly earnings before their EI claim. However, the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a negative impact on a worker’s weekly earnings either because they lost their job or saw their hours of work reduced. The minimum benefit rate of $400 will reduce the negative impact on EI benefit rates for these workers and align with the weekly benefit rate for the new Canada Recovery Benefit. (2021 03 21)
I am an expectant mother who will not have 600 insurable hours of teaching. Can I still qualify for Federal benefits?
If you are an expectant mother looking to take maternity/parental leave who does not have 600 hours of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary changes to the EI program will allow you qualify for EI maternity and parental benefits with a minimum 120 hours of work.
I read that the one-week waiting period for (EI) maternity benefits has been temporarily waved. How will this impact my benefits?
When you make a claim for Employment Insurance (EI) maternity benefits, there is normally a one-week period for which you are not paid. This is called the waiting period. It is like the deductible for other types of insurance.
Temporarily waiving the waiting period is intended to enable individuals to be paid for the first week of unemployment and enhance income support to Canadians during the pandemic.
School divisions, however, provide full pay to teachers during the one-week period so that new mothers who select a standard maternity and parental EI benefit would receive a full week of pay from the employer during the one-week waiting period; they would then receive 15 weeks of maternity benefit and 35 weeks of parental benefit.
With the introduction of this temporary waiver program, every teacher who establishes an initial claim for EI maternity benefits between January 31 and September 25, 2021, will have their one-week waiting period waived automatically when their claim is processed.
While waiving the waiting period will not affect the maximum number of weeks of EI benefits that you may receive, this could affect your employer-provided supplemental benefit plan. School divisions provide a top-up during periods of maternity leave in accordance with your individual collective agreements. Service Canada is supposed to ensure that this is taken into consideration when determining whether you should serve the waiting period.
This automatic consideration will only occur if the Record of Employment (ROE) submitted by the employer records that you are receiving full pay for the week after you start your maternity leave.
If Service Canada does not automatically account for the one week of pay from the employer and waives the waiting period, then you must call Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218 and explain that the waiver does not benefit you. You must ask that Service Canada apply consideration to determine that you should serve the waiting period and not be subject to the waiver. Remember that this only applies if you establish an initial claim for EI maternity benefits between January 31 and September 25, 2021. (2021 03 21)
What it the Canada Recovery Benefit?
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.
If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 19 eligibility periods (38 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021. (2021 03 21)
I am a substitute teacher, what happens if I am unable to work because I am sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19?
The Eligibility period limits are now extended for Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). Eligible recipients may now apply to any open period for up to a total of 4 weeks.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) can provide income support to substitute teachers who have no paid sick leave or contract teachers who have exhausted their paid sick leave if they are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.
If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period. If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 4 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021. You cannot apply for periods that are closed.
The benefit would be available to:
- Residents in Canada who are at least 15 years of age and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
- Workers employed or self-employed at the time of the application; and
- Workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020.
Teachers would not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Teachers could not claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Substitute teachers would need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit. (2021 03 21)
If my child’s daycare closes to prevent the spread of COVID 19, I would not be able to continue to teach. Is there Federal support for me?
The new Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit, effective from September 27, 2020 for one year, and provides $500 per week, for up to 38 weeks per household to eligible Canadians.
The closure of schools and other daycare and day program facilities to prevent the spread of COVID 19 has meant that many Canadians have been unable to work because they needed to provide care to children or support to other dependents who had to stay home.
In order to be eligible for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, individuals would need to:
- reside in Canada;
- be at least 15 years of age on the first day of the period for which they apply for the benefit;
- have a valid Social Insurance Number;
- be employed or self-employed on the day immediately preceding the period for which the application is made;
- have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020;
- have been unable to work for at least 60% 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 CERB, the EI Emergency Response Benefit (ERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or any EI benefits or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits in respect of the same week.
***Workers would apply after the period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. Two members residing in the same household could not be in receipt of the benefit for the same period. The benefit is taxable. (2021 03 21)
How do I apply for one of the new Federal Support Programs?
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers these benefits, and teachers are able to apply at: www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/covid19-emergency-benefits.html. (2021 03 21)