The Government of Canada continues to offer programs to address the effects of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. The government’s response to these turbulent times is reflected in its Employment Insurance (EI) program. Since Sept. 27, 2020, these changes support teachers who remain unable to work and meet eligibility. These programs are scheduled to be in effect until Sept. 25, 2021, and it is unknown if these programs will be extended past this date.
Contact Teacher Employment Services for individual assistance at
Hours required for eligibility
The hours required to qualify for EI regular and special benefits have been reduced. Access to EI benefits is normally based on the number of insurable hours worked in the year prior to application (the qualifying period). The government recognizes that the pandemic has prevented many Canadians from accumulating the 600 insurable hours that are normally required. To qualify for EI benefits more easily, claims for regular benefits now require 300 insurable hours and claims for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver) require 480 insurable hours.
Minimum benefit rate change
Since Sept. 27, 2020, and in place until Sept. 25, 2021, new EI claimants will receive a minimum benefit rate of $400 per week (or $240 per week for those on extended parental), if this rate is higher than what they normally would have received. In addition, other temporary measures are 120 hours of work required to qualify and at least 50 weeks of regular benefits available.
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to regular EI benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The CRB pays $1,000 ($900 after withholding taxes) for a two-week period. If the situation continues past two weeks, the claimant is required to apply again for a total of 19 eligibility periods (38 weeks) between Sept. 27, 2020 and Sept. 25, 2021.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
Substitute teachers who are unable to work due to illness or self-isolation for COVID-19 may be eligible for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). Eligible recipients may apply to any open period for up to a total of four weeks. The CRSB can provide income support to substitute teachers who have no paid sick leave or to contract teachers who have exhausted their paid sick leave and are unable to work due to illness or requirement to self-isolate for COVID-19. An underlying health condition putting the teacher at greater risk due to COVID-19 would also be eligible.
The CRSB pays $500 ($450 after withholding taxes) for a one-week period. If the condition lasts longer than one week, the claimant is required to apply again for a total of four weeks between Sept. 27, 2020 and Sept. 25, 2021.
A medical certificate is required to qualify for the benefit. Note that teachers cannot claim the CRSB and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Substitute teachers must have missed a minimum of 60 per cent of their scheduled work during the week claimed.
Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit
This taxable benefit, effective for one year from Sept. 27, 2020, provides $500 per week for up to 38 weeks per household to eligible Canadians. Only one member of the household can apply.
Many Canadians have been unable to work due to the closure of schools, day cares and day program facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This benefit would apply to these individuals.
Refer to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website under the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit for eligibility requirements. ❚