Teachers have special regulations when it comes to federal income support programs such as Employment Insurance (EI). Prior to March 15, 2020, regular EI benefits were available to teachers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and who were available and able to work, but could not find work. Casual or substitute teachers could be paid regular EI benefits during nonteaching periods.
COVID-19 has changed access to federal income support benefits for some Alberta teachers. However, if you are already receiving regular EI benefits, you will continue to receive these benefits until the end of your benefit period. You cannot be paid EI benefits and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for the same period.
If you became eligible for regular or sickness EI benefits before March 15, your claim will be processed under the pre-existing EI rules. You will not receive the CERB.
If you became eligible for regular or sickness EI benefits on or after March 15, you will receive the CERB. You do not get to choose.
You are only allowed to choose if you started a new EI claim within the last 52 weeks and there are still weeks payable on that claim. If you are in this situation, you can choose to automatically reactivate (renew) your existing claim at the existing benefit rate; or request that Service Canada end your existing claim and open a new claim for the CERB, provided you meet the eligibility criteria.
If you choose to end your existing claim, any remaining weeks payable on that existing claim will be lost; your decision is irreversible and not subject to reconsideration.
What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?
The CERB provides temporary income support to teachers who have stopped working related to COVID-19. Teachers who are eligible for regular or sickness EI benefits or who have recently exhausted regular EI benefits may also be eligible. The new CERB provides $500 per week for a maximum of 16 weeks.
The CERB is available from March 15, 2020 to Oct. 3, 2020. You can apply no later than Dec. 2, 2020 for payments retroactive to within that period.
The CERB is available to teachers who stop working for reasons related to COVID-19; for example
- you have lost substitute teaching work;
- your temporary contract ended;
- you are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19 and are on unpaid sick leave;
- you are taking care of others because they are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19, and are on an unpaid leave of absence; and/or
you are taking care of children or other dependents because their care facility is closed due to COVID-19 and are on an unpaid leave of absence.
Beyond these examples, there may be other reasons related to COVID-19 why you may have stopped working and be eligible. However, voluntarily quitting your job is not an eligible reason.
Alternatively, you can apply for the CERB if
- you are eligible for regular or sickness EI benefits; or
- you are a former EI claimant who used up your entitlement to your regular benefits between Dec. 29, 2019 and Oct. 3, 2020.
To get the CERB, you may not earn more than $1,000 for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period of your claim or $1,000 in total for each subsequent claim. Retired teachers who have returned to teaching but have stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19 and meet the other eligibility criteria can apply for CERB. Pension income does not affect eligibility.
It is important to note that if you are a teacher under a continuing contract, you cannot be paid federal income support benefits during nonteaching periods such as summer break. However, if your teaching contract has ended, you were employed on a casual or substitute basis, or you qualify for benefits with an occupation other than teaching, you could qualify for federal income support.
However, if you are employed on a casual or a substitute basis for any part of the qualifying period, but have since signed or agreed to a regular teaching contract for the following school year, you may not be entitled to benefits during any nonteaching period. ❚
If you need advice or assistance, contact Teacher Welfare at 1-800-232-7205.
Financial wellness workshops available
On behalf of the ATA’s Teacher Welfare program area, financial wellness workshops continue online. They are presented by Capital Estate Planning and MNP and cover topics such as saving for an emergency fund and debt reduction strategies.
Sessions are held regularly, and any teacher can register to attend from anywhere in the province.
If you are interested, contact Elizabeth Walton, Capital Estate’s communication specialist, directly at email@example.com or 780-463-6139 to receive a list of session dates that will work with your schedule. You can also view information on their website, www.capitalplanning.ca/resources/financial-wellness. ❚