There are many financial programs available to support workers and their families in B.C. and Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Benefits Finder is a government provided service that will provide both provincial and federal benefit options that may be available to you, based on your answers to a few short questions.
- Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits continue to be available and provides up to $573/week to people who have lost income. Apply online and follow the BCGEU’s guide for assistance.
- EI Sickness Benefit is still available and the one-week waiting period has been waived. If you’re sick or under quarantine and qualify for EI, you can apply online immediately. To be eligible you must show that you cannot work for medical reasons, your regular weekly earnings from work are down more than 40 per cent for at least one week, and you accumulated 600 hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim. Call 1-833-381-2725 or apply online.
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a new program to provide $2,000/month to workers who have lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who would not normally qualify for EI. Applications for CERB will open April 6, 2020. CERB covers those who have:
- lost their job;
- are sick;
- quarantined or are taking care of someone else that is ill;
- working parents who must stay home to care for children who are sick or at home because of school/daycare closures;
- haven’t been laid off but aren’t getting a paycheque because their workplace is closed due to COVID-19.
- BC Emergency Benefit for Workers provides a one-time additional tax-free payment of $1,000 to those on EI or CERB. Check here for application instructions as they become available.
- Special GST credit payment is a one-time payment by early May of up to $400 for eligible individuals and $600 for eligible couples. No application is required; if eligible, you’ll receive it automatically.
- Climate Action Tax Credit is a one-time enhancement payment in July of up to $564 for eligible families of four and $218 for eligible individuals. Children under 18 years of age must be registered for the CCB to qualify. No application required; the benefit is paid according to your income tax return
- Increased Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a one-time payment in May of $300 per child. No action required if you’re already registered to receive the CCB.
- The existing Income Assistance program continues to be available for those in need with no other resources. Apply online, by phone (1-866-866-0800) or, if you are not ill, visit your local office
- For people with disabilities: The existing Disability Assistance program continues to be available, as well as additional supports. Apply online, by phone (1-866-866-0800) or, if you are not ill, visit your local office.
- For seniors: Eligible seniors are automatically enrolled in existing programs, but applications can also be submitted online for the following programs:
Paying Back CERB if you were Laid Off and Have Been Recalled
As of Monday, May 11 you may voluntarily send a cheque to Canada Revenue Services to repay any benefits you received but no longer qualify for due to recall to work or a new employment opportunity. Repayment is required if:
- you earned employment or self-employment income earlier than expected
- you applied for the CERB but later realize you’re not eligible
- you receive a CERB payment from both Service Canada and the CRA for the same period
Cheques can be mailed to:
Revenue Processing – Repayment of CERB
Sudbury Tax Centre
1050 Notre Dame Avenue
Sudbury ON P3A 0C3
On the memo line of your cheque include your Social Insurance Number and CERB Repayment.
Repayments are requested by December 31, 2020 for tax purposes (after that T4A slips are issued).
Visit the government of Canada website for information on CERB repayment.
Additional information from our friend Adrienne Smith