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October 5, 2020

Canada Passes New Covid-19 Related Benefits and Leave Protections

Authors Hendrik Nieuwland, Brandin O'Connor and Mackenzie Anderson

On September 30, 2020, the House of Commons unanimously passed  Bill C-4, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19 (Bill C-4), authorizing new benefits to workers and extended leave provisions for federally-regulated employees in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bill C-4 was passed in the senate and received royal assent on October 2, 2020. This blog post will detail the key parts of Bill C-4 that employers should be aware of.

New Financial Assistance Programs

Bill C-4 replaces the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which became defunct on September 26, 2020. The Canadian government has urged workers to transfer to employment insurance (EI). However, for those workers that do not qualify for EI, Bill C-4 creates three new benefits to support Canadian workers that have been left jobless or underemployed due to COVID-19:

1. Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

CRB will provide $500 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks. CRB is aimed at workers, including those that are self-employed, that require income support and do not qualify for EI. The eligibility period to apply for these benefits is from September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021.

2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

CRSB will provide $500 per week for a maximum of two weeks for any week falling within the period of September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021. CRSB is aimed at workers whose work hours are reduced by at least 50 percent because:

  1. they contracted or might have contracted COVID-19;
  2. they have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments   or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19; or,
  3. they isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority for reasons related to COVID-19

3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

CRBC will provide $500 per week for a maximum of 26 weeks per household for any week falling within the period of September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021. CRBC is aimed at workers whose work hours are reduced by at least 50 percent because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member that normally receives supervised care. To be eligible, the worker must be providing care to a child or family member who is sick or in isolation, or because the school or care services that are normally available have become closed due to COVID-19. 

New Leaves of Absence Under the Canada Labour Code

Bill C-4 also amends the Canada Labour Code, creating two new protected leaves of absence for federally-regulated workers:

1. A leave of absence of up to two weeks if the employee is unable to work because of medical circumstances related to COVID-19, as detailed above; and

2. A leave of absence of up to 26 weeks if the employee is unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member that normally receives supervised care due to COVID-19, as detailed above.

Our firm will continue to provide you with updates as the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

The foregoing is for informational purposes only and should in no way be relied upon as legal advice. For legal advice tailored to your circumstances and business, please contact any of SOM LLP’s lawyers by email or telephone.

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