COVID-19: “Am I eligible for any of the federal aid package?”

The question comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau put out an announcement regarding the government’s financial aid to residents impacted by COVID-19.

The federal aid package includes employment insurance and two emergency benefits for those who don’t qualify for EI.

Here’s a guideline on how these benefits work:

Employment Insurance qualifications

  • Those who have lost their job through no fault of their own (like lay-offs) can receive regular EI benefits.
  • EI sickness benefits also cover those who are experiencing any illness, pregnancy, caring for a sick family member, or those unable to work because they are quarantined.
  • The one-week waiting period for sickness benefits will be removed for those who are in self-isolation/ quarantine – applicants can be paid for the first week of their claim.

How to apply

As soon as the announcement was made, the government has advised the people to apply immediately to know if they qualify for EI or not. Delaying your application for more than a month can make you lose access to these benefits.

Unlike before, the government has set up new rules on applying for EI. Quarantined workers can now apply without a medical certificate and records of employment.

  1. Go to the website.
  2. And call the government’s toll-free number 1-833-381-275, or teletypewriter 1-800-529-3742, to apply to have the one-week waiting period waived.
  3. OR apply in person at a Service Canada branch (except for those who are experiencing symptoms, or are in self-isolation)
  4. If approved, the maximum paid out is $573/week

Emergency Care Benefit

  • Intended for those who don’t qualify for EI (e.g. self-employed, freelancers, artists, etc.), can’t go to work, and those who don’t have paid sick leaves.
  • Those caring for a family member with COVID-19 who doesn’t qualify for EI can also apply as well as parents taking care of children because of school closures.
  • This will provide up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks.

Emergency Support Benefit

  • Intended to be a long-term income support (No confirmation from the government on how much it will provide and how the funds will be available).
  • Will provide up to $5M in support to workers who are ineligible for EI and are facing unemployment.

Both emergency benefit plans are estimated to be available by early April and can be accessed through the CRA website.

The emergency aid plan also includes:

  • A six-month interest-free reprieve on student loans
  • An extension to the tax filing deadline (June 1, 2020)
  • Canadians who owe money on their taxes can pay until August 2020
  • $305 million for a new Indigenous Community Support Fund
  • A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments, $300 per child
  • A GST credit for low-income Canadians
  • Special support for the homeless
  • Boosting funding for shelters
  • Temporarily reducing the minimum withdrawal on Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25% for seniors
  • Provide temporary wage subsidy for at least three months; pay 10% of salaries for some small businesses, non-profit organizations, charities to keep workers on the payroll – with a maximum of $25 000 per employer

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