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Pandemic prompts changes to federal income support

September 15, 2020 ATA Teacher Employment Services

The Government of Canada has made significant changes to support programs during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. Effective Sept. 27, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is transitioning to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program. Eligible teachers will have access to a new set of temporary and taxable recovery benefits. In the interim, the CERB will be extended by an additional four weeks, providing a new maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits.

Qualifying for EI benefits is normally based on the number of insurable hours a teacher has worked in the year prior to their application or since their last claim. However, the pandemic has prevented some teachers from accumulating the number of insurable hours that is normally required. Recent changes will help teachers 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 be available for new EI claims for one year. Additionally, as of Sept. 27, new EI claimants will receive a minimum benefit rate of $400 per week (or $240 for extended parental benefits), if this amount is greater than what their benefits would otherwise be.

If you are a teacher with limited or no access to paid sick leave, and you become unable to work because of illness or the need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) would provide $500 per week for up to two weeks in a one-year period, effective Sept. 27. Teachers would not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit; however, you may not claim the CRSB and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Teachers would need to have missed a minimum of 60 per cent of their scheduled work in the week they are claiming the benefit.

If your child’s school or daycare facility closes to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you may be unable to continue to work. As of Sept. 27, for a one-year period, the new Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB) will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to teachers who are unable to work for at least 60 per cent of their normal weekly schedule because they must care for a child who is under 12 years of age, or are providing care to a family member with a disability whose normal care arrangement has been interrupted for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do I apply for one of the new federal support programs?

If you are already receiving benefits through Service Canada, you will be transitioned to the EI program once you have received the maximum CERB benefits for which you are entitled, if you are EI eligible and continue to need income support.

Teachers who are currently receiving the CERB from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) who believe they are entitled to EI will need to apply through Service Canada after Sept. 26.

The CRA will administer the Canada Recovery Benefits, and Canadians will be able to apply through the CRA. In the coming weeks, the CRA will provide more details on how and when Canadians can get ready to apply at ❚ 

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