UBCP/ACTRA, along with our brothers and sisters in the labour moment, has been lobbying government to ensure that no workers – including performers – would be left behind when CERB comes to an end. We were pleased to learn that the Federal Government has heard this message and developed a mechanism to support workers who are not eligible for EI.
CERB Extension – The CERB will the extended by an additional four weeks, providing a new maximum of up to 28 weeks of benefits.
Canada Recovery Benefit – This new Benefit will be effective from September 27, 2020 for one year and will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks to individuals who do not qualify for EI (mainly self-employed and those in the gig economy).
The Benefit is available to Canadians who:
- Are at least 15 years old and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN).
- Have stopped working due to COVID-19 pandemic and are available and looking for work; or are working and have had a reduction in income for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
- Had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020.
- Have not quit their job voluntarily.
- Apply after every 2 week period for which you are seeking support and attest that you continue to meet the requirements (above).
- In order to be eligible, you need to look for and accept work when it is reasonable to do so.
- The benefit is taxable.
- You are able to earn income from employment and/or self-employment while receiving the benefit, as long as you continue to meet the requirements.
- To ensure that the benefit targets those who need it most, claimants will need to repay some or all of the benefit through their income tax return if their annual net income, excluding the Canada Recovery Benefit payment, is over $38,000. In other words, you will need to repay $0.50 of the benefit for each dollar of your annual net income above $38,000 in the calendar year to a maximum of the amount of benefit you received.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
The new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will provide $500 per week, for up to two weeks, effective September 27, 2020 for one year, for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19.
The benefit will 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.
- Workers will not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit.
- Workers cannot claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period.
- Workers will need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit.
- Workers should apply after the one-week period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements.
- The benefit is taxable.
Employment Insurance – The eligibility criteria for EI has changed. While many performers normally do not qualify for EI, we encourage everyone to look into the new criteria as you may find that you are now eligible based on work you do outside UBCP/ACTRA’s jurisdiction.
Updates to EI:
- 120 hours of work required to qualify. 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 be available for new EI claims for one year and are made retroactive to March 15, 2020, for claimants who were looking to transition early from the CERB to EI maternity/parental/compassionate care etc…, but could not establish their EI claim due to insufficient hours.
- Minimum benefit rate of $400 per week
It is important to note these recovery benefits still require the Government of Canada to introduce and pass legislation to support the delivery of these benefits.
In the coming weeks, the CRA will provide more details on how and when Canadians can get ready to apply at www.canada.ca/coronavirus.