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I Can't Get EI - Now What?

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

"Mind the Gap" sign
Emergency Care Benefit & Emergency Support Benefit

* DUE TO QUICKLY EVOLVING CIRCUMSTANCES, the information in the post below should be read in combination with our update, HERE.

There are many working Canadians, including the self-employed, who do not qualify for Employment Insurance ("EI"). Yet, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, they may be unable to work and will suffer financial hardship.

The $82 billion-dollar COVID-19 aid package announced last week by the federal government sets aside $27 billion in direct support of such workers.

The newly announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit will fund help for those who are ineligible for EI and who cannot go to work because of the pandemic. These benefits are expected to be available April 2020..

Emergency Care Benefit

The Emergency Care Benefit will provide up to $900 every two weeks, for up to 15 weeks, for:

  1. those who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19, but do not qualify for EI benefits;

  2. those staying at home to care for a family member with COVID-19, but do not qualify for EI benefits; and

  3. parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI.

Eligibility will be determined based on a simple ‘attestation’ (i.e. no medical documents are required). The attestation must be renewed every two weeks. Those with access to paid sick leave are not eligible.

The federal government is also focused on ease of applying for and administering the benefit – applicants will not have to leave home to make their application. Applications will be accepted by CRA MyAccount, My Service Canada Account, or by calling a toll-free number. Benefits will then be administered by direct deposit.

Emergency Support Benefit

The Emergency Support Benefit will be available to any worker who loses their job as a result of COVID-19 and does not qualify for EI. The Finance Minister has stated that it is intended to provide 14-weeks support at a comparable level to the EI program. Further details had not been released at the time of posting, but we do know applications $5 billion has been set aside for this benefit.

Because the status and availability of various benefits is being updated so frequently, it is important to seek frequent updates on these issues. For updates and information on these benefits and the other federal fiscal measures available to Canadians in relation to the pandemic, see check here regularly.


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