The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused thousands of job losses for workers across Canada - including countless working holiday makers.
In response the Canadian governement has adapted its Employment Insurance (EI) scheme.
In this guide, we will outline everything you need to know about EI and CERB and what you should do if you need to claim it.
What is Canadian Employment Insurance and what is its purpose?
EI is an unemployment insurance program that allows individuals who have recently lost their job to receive temporary financial insurance.
Under the new changes introduced by the government, working holidaymakers will now be able to benefit from EI.
Who can apply for EI?
You will be eligible for EI if you
- Were employed in insurable employment
- Lost your job through no fault of your own
- Have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks
- Have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim
- Are ready, willing and capable of working each day
- Are actively looking for work
What changes have the Canadian government made to EI due to COVID-19?
The Canadian government have made a number of changes to the EI scheme due to COVID-19.
For example, EI applications typically must go without pay for one full week. However, the Canadian government has waived this requirement due to the pandemic.
This is to benefit people who are quarantined so that they get paid for the first week of their claim. In addition, people claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate.
How do I apply for EI?
It is important to apply as soon as possible after you stop working. You may lose out on benefits if you wait more than 4 weeks after your last day of work to apply.
You can apply directly with the Canadian government by filling out their online form.
Some information you should be aware of before you fill out the form is that:
- The form will take 60 minutes to fill out.
- When you apply you will be asked for your email address. If Service Canada needs more information about your claim and cannot reach you by phone, an agent will send you a toll free number by email, asking you to call an agent
- The website will take you through the application process step by step and provides detailed instructions on how to complete the form.
- If you started a new EI claim within the last 52 weeks and there are still weeks payable on that claim they will automatically renew your existing claim when you submit your application.
How much money can I claim from EI?
If you are eligible for EI you will be entitled to claim 55% of your income, up to a maximum of $573 per week. However, the exact amount you will be able to claim will depend on your personal circumstances.
How long can you be on EI?
You can apply for up to 15 weeks of financial assistance through EI if you are unable to work.
I am not entitled to EI. Can I claim CERB? (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) instead?
CERB is the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit merged into one. The payment which became available on the 6 April 2020, is part of the Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan and provides support for individuals and families alongside with increased child care benefits, mortgage support and more.
Workers who have to stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income.
Workers who are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
Workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because of lack of work and have been asked to stay at home.
Parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need care because of crèche and school closures.
How to apply for CERB?
If you have applied already for EI you will not have to apply for CERB as it will automatically be applied to you as long as you fit the qualifying conditions.
If you haven't applied for EI there are two ways you can apply for CERB, online and through an automated phone system.
Online you can apply through the CRA's My Account portal.
To apply by phone you can call 1-800-959-2019
In order to provide a better service the CRA asks people to apply for the CERB (regardless by phone or online) in the days according to the following.
If you were born in the month of Apply for CERB on
January, February or March Mondays
April, May or June Tuesdays
July, August or September Wednesdays
October, November or December Thursdays
Any month Friday, Saturday or Sundays
It is important to note that many people have already being receiving scamming SMS's and emails related to the application for CERB.
If you do get a message to say you received a deposit for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit it's a scam.
The CRA do not send SMS's and emails to ask for personal details regarding the CERB application.
What do I need to apply for CERB?
When applying for the benefit you will need
- Your social insurance number
- Your contact information
- To be able to declare that you're eligible for CERB
- If you are sick, or caring for someone who is sick, there is no need to submit a medical certificate.
The honour system is currently being used to get financial aid to Canadians as quickly as possible. This means you may be asked to provide additional documentation to prove your eligibility at a later date. If it turns out you do not qualify for CERB, you'll have to repay the benefit.
Who can apply for CERB?
To be eligible for CERB you must
- Reside in Canada
- Be 15 years old or more when you apply
- Have stopped working due to Covid-19
- Not receive employment income, self-employment income, provincial or federal benefits (related to maternity or paternity leave) and you have not quit your job voluntarily in the four week period you are apply for.
- Have income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of the application.
- Not apply for, nor receive CERB or EI benefits from service Canada for the same eligibility period.
Eligibility periods are fixed in four week periods, this means if your situation continues you can re-apply for CERB for multiple four week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks.
Has the tax deadline been extended due to COVID-19?
In addition to adjusting the EI scheme, the Canadian government have also extended the tax filing deadline from 30 April to 1 June.
This means that every taxpayer – including working holidaymakers – now have an extra month to file their tax returns.
And if you owe a balance of tax due to the tax office, the payment deadline has been extended from 30 April to 1 September.
Does the deadline extension affect my tax refund application?
While the tax deadline has been extended, the CRA will continue to process tax returns in the coming weeks.
By filing now, you can ensure that you receive your tax refund without delay and before the tax deadline rush.
How can I apply for my tax refund?
While you can apply for your tax refund directly with the Canadian tax authorities, the easiest way to get your tax back is to apply with Taxback.com.
Our tax team will handle all of the tax paperwork for you, ensure you avail of every relief you're entitled to and transfer your tax refund to your bank account anywhere in the world – even after you have left Canada!
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· 24/7 Live Chat tax support