Ottawa Announces Three New COVID-19 Employment Benefits: CRB, CRSB and CRCB

KSW lawyers - Employment and labour law

As the now infamous “CERB” comes to an end, the federal government has created three new temporary benefits aimed at supporting Canadians still unable to work or working less because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill C-4, the COVID-19 Response Measures Act received Royal Assent on October 2, 2020 and  introduces three new benefits: the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).

 

For those employers who thought things would be getting simpler, this is unfortunately not the case. Each of the three “CR” benefits are summarized below. It would benefit employers to be generally familiar with each of the benefits to be in a position to field questions from employees and assist them in understanding their rights. It is also important to recognize the integration between these new federal benefits and the provincial COVID-19 leave.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

This is basically CERB for the self-employed. It provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, for workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and who still require income support. A person is eligible for the CRB between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021 if that person:

 

  • Was present in Canada for the period in which they were unable to work;
  • Has a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN) and is at least 15 years old;
  • Was not working for reasons related to COVID-19 or had a 50% reduction in  average weekly income compared to the previous year due to COVID-19;
  • Did not apply for or receive any of the following: CRSB, CRCB, short term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or EI benefits;
  • Was not eligible for EI benefits;
  • Earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the date they apply from any of the following sources:  

– employment income (total or gross pay)

– net self-employment income (after deducting expenses) 

– maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits

    • Has not quit their job or reduced hours voluntarily on or after September 27, 2020, unless it was reasonable to do so (Query: what does “reasonable” mean?)
    • Was seeking work during the period, either as an employee or in self-employment, and has not turned down reasonable work during the 2-week period you’re applying for (Query: how would this be enforced?)

    **Note: an individual who has an income exceeding $38,000 for 2020 or 2021 will be required to repay an amount equal to 50 cents per dollar of income earned in that year above $38,000 up to the total amount of the CRB received in the given year.

    Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

    This rather extraordinary benefit was born from the deal struck between the Liberals and the NDP to avoid an early election and essentially provides workers with 10 days of government-paid sick leave. The CRSB is a benefit of $500 ($450 after taxes) per week for up to a total of two weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021 for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19. A person will be eligible for the CRSB if that person:

     

    • Is unable to work at least 50% of their scheduled work week because they are self-isolating because they:

    – Are sick with COVID-19 or may have COVID-19;

    – Have been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19; or

    – Have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

      • Did not apply for or receive any of the following for the same period: CRB, CRCB, short term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, EI benefits;
      • Reside in Canada, were present in Canada, have a valid SIN and are at least 15 years old;
      • Earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the date of application from any of the following sources:

      – employment income (total or gross pay);

      – net self-employment income (after deducting expenses); or

      – maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits;

        • Are not receiving paid leave from the employer for the same period;
        • **Note: Workers will not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Also, they may not claim the CRSB and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period i.e. no double-dipping.

        The CRSB is not without criticism from the business community as some are of the opinion this benefit will be highly damaging to Canada’s economy (due to the $40 billion cost) but more importantly, to workplace productivity. This is because unexpected absences from the workplace have a larger impact than planned absences such as holidays: if a replacement cannot be arranged for, work does not get done, customers are left without service or with substandard service.  In a recent article in the Financial Post, employment lawyer Howard Levitt cynically wrote:

         

        Having negotiated many union agreements, there is one truism: when you allow for 10 “sick” days a year, all or virtually all employees miraculously are suddenly “sick” ten times a year. In the minds of the employees, the ten days become floating holidays, permitting them to call in “sick” ten times a year at a time of their, not their employer’s, convenience. You will see a particular surge of “illnesses” around weekends.

        Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

        The CRCB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, daycares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine. A resident of Canada will be eligible for the CRCB benefit if that person:

        • Is unable to work at least 50% of the scheduled work week because they are caring for a family member;
        • Did not apply for or receive any of the following for the same period: CRB, CRSB, short term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, EI benefits;
        • Is not receiving paid leave from your employer for the same period;
        • Is caring for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care because they are at home for one of the following reasons:

        – Their school, daycare, day program, or care facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19;

        – Their regular care services are unavailable due to COVID-19;

        – The person under the applicant’s care is:

        * sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19;

        * at risk of serious health complications if they get COVID-19, as advised by a medical professional; or

        * self-isolating due to COVID-19; 

        • Earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the date of application from any of the following sources: 

        – employment income (total or gross pay)

        – net self-employment income (after deducting expenses)

        – maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits

          • Is the only person in your household applying for the benefit for the week.

           An individual will only be eligible to receive one benefit in any given period.

            

          You can review further details of Bill C-4 here.

           

          Should you have any questions about these new federal benefits, please contact one of the lawyers in the KSW Employment & Labour Group.

          Check out our Related Articles here.

          Note to our Readers: This is not legal advice. If you are looking for legal advice in relation to a particular matter, please contact our Employment & Labour Group.
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