Employees- There is help for you

With daily updates from both the Canadian Government and the British Columbia Government, the information can become overwhelming. In order to help reduce the overload/saturation of information we have complied a list of the current available resources available to employees impacted by COVID-19 as of April 24, 2020.

As of April 23, 2020, the Canadian Government has implemented a $2,000 taxable benefit every 4 weeks for up to 16 weeks for eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19 as part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the “CERB”). In order to be eligible, the worker must meet the following conditions:

• live in Canada and are at least 15 years old;
• stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
• have not voluntarily quit their job; and
• had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.

In addition, on April 15, 2020, the Canadian Government announced the following changes to the above eligibility rules to:

• Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB;
• Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19; and
• Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19.

For low-income essential workers, the Canadian Government has added a temporary top up to the salaries of low-income workers. The Canadian Government considers low-income workers to be workers who earn less than $2,500 per month on a full-time basis.

In addition to the Canadian Government, the BC Government has implemented a one time, tax-free, $1,000 payment for BC residents whose ability to work has been impacted by COVID-19. In order to be eligible, the worker must meet the following conditions:

• was a resident of British Columbia on March 15, 2020;
• meets the eligibility requirements for the CERB;
• have been approved for the CERB, even if you haven’t received a federal benefit payment yet;
• be at least 15 years old on the date you apply;
• have filed, or agree to file, a 2019 B.C. income tax return; and
• not be receiving provincial income assistance or disability assistance.

In addition, the BC Government has implemented a temporary change the Employment Standard Act that allows an employee to take unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19. This temporary change is retroactive to January 27, 2020 and will be removed once it is on longer needed. This temporary change applies to employees who were unable to work for any of the following reasons:

• they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are following the instructions of a medical health officer, or the advice of a doctor or nurse;
• they are in quarantine or self-isolation and are acting in accordance with an order of the provincial health officer, an order made under the Quarantine Act (Canada), guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control, or guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada;
• their employer has directed them not to work due to concern about their exposure to others;
• they need to provide care to their minor child or a dependent adult who is their child or former foster child for a reason related to COVID-19, including a school, daycare or similar facility closure; and
• they are outside of BC and unable to return to work due to travel or border restrictions.

For full details and for other resources available, visit:
https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html and
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support.