COVID-19

CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFITS (CERB)

What is CERB?

CERB is to support workers and employers to retain their employees. This is a taxable benefit that would provide $2000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

Who is eligible?
  • Workers still employed but not receiving income because of disruptions due to COVID-19
  • Wage earners, contract workers & self-employed individuals (who would otherwise not eligible for EI)
  • Workers who have lost their jobs, are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • Parents who must stay home because of school and daycare closures.
  • Applicant must have earned minimum $5000 during 2019.

Note: Leaving job voluntarily won’t make any individual eligible  for CERB. Either employer lays off an individual or if there is a reduction  in job hours by atleast 40%, only then one can apply for CERB. If your workplace doesn’t  follow any safety practices then it can be reported to Work BC or designated  authorities as per Province guidelines.

What is the time frame?
  • People can receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application.
  • CERB will be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020. 
  • Portal for CERB will be available in early April.
I have applied for EI, Can I still apply for CERB?
  • People who are already receiving EI benefits would continue to receive their EI Benefits and SHOULD NOT apply for CERB.
  • If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020. They could apply for CERB, once their EI benefits cease and they are unable to work due to COVID-19.
  • People who have already applied for EI & whose application is not processed yet would not need to apply.
  • People who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their EI benefits if still unemployed after a 16week period for CERB.

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/introduces-canada-emergency-response-benefit-to-help-workers-and-businesses.html

Employee Insurance

What are the benefits under EI?

The benefits include the emergency care benefit, which would give up to $900 every two weeks for up to 15 weeks to those who have been affected or sickened by COVID-19, are in quarantine or have to stay at home to care for children or other family members.

Who is eligible?

If you are an international student or a work permit holder but if you fulfil any of the conditions below, you are eligible to apply and if not please refer to Canada Emergency Response Program.

  • You’re unable to work due to COVID-19 (Reason may include Lose of Job or quarantine or take care of any immediate family member suffering from COVID-19).
  • Your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least one week
  • You accumulated 600 insured hours* of work in the 52 weeks (BC). It may differ from province to province. 

(*As an example, 600 hours are equivalent to 20 weeks of work at 30 hours a week.)

What is the time frame?

There is one week waiting period but the one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim. 

If you have already completed the application for EI sickness benefits whether you are sick or quarantined and would like to have the one-week waiting period waived, call the new toll-free phone number 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)

Backdated Claims: People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay

Where to apply?

You can apply online using the following link: https://srv270.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/AW/introduction?GoCTemplateCulture=en-CA

  1. Gather supporting documents – You must have your records of employment (ROEs), but a medical certificate won’t be necessary for those who have been asked to self-isolate or quarantine. Service Canada advises people to apply right away even if you don’t have these documents as you can send them in later.
  2. Complete the online application– This includes making sure you have: the names and addresses of your employers in the last 52 weeks, the dates employed with each employer and the reasons you’re no longer employed, and personal information including mailing address, Social Insurance Number (SIN), and banking information.
  3. Provide supporting documents- You can visit My Service Canada Account (MSCA) to view ROEs that have been issued to you by past and current employers.
  4. Receive access code by mail – Service Canada will mail you a benefit statement, which includes a 4-digit access code. You need this code and your SIN to get updates about your application and to complete biweekly reports.
  5. Review your application status. 

RENTAL SUPPORT 

Rental Support from Government

The new temporary rent supplement will provide up to $500 per month, paid directly to landlords. 

(Application process details are still to be announced as of March 26, 2020)

Freezing new annual rent increases during the state of emergency.

Official source: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020MAH0048-000561

BC Hydro Announces Bill Help For Customers Affected By COVID-19

Customer Assistance

The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program provides customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Customers are encouraged to call BC Hydro’s customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss bill payment options.

BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund

Customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay their bills.

ICBC Autoplan Payment Plan For Customer Affected By COVID-19

Help from ICBC

ICBC recognize the financial impact COVID-19 on it’s customers and want to provide some relief during this challenging time. Customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan, who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.

Due to high call volumes, they launched this online resource tool to apply for deferrals. If needed, you can call their customer support team at 604-661-2723 or 1-800-665-6442 to discuss your payment options. 

 Auto Insurance Renewal

If your insurance is due to expire, please call your Autoplan broker. Many insurance transactions can now be done through phone and email. This is temporary to help meet British Columbians’ insurance needs without in-person contact.

FAQs

CANADIAN EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT

Would I need CRA account to apply for CERB?

Yes, please call 1-800-959-8281 to apply or apply online.

Can you Receive the CERB if you are not a citizen or permanent resident?

To be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you must reside in Canada and have a valid Social Insurance Number. Workers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents – including temporary foreign workers and international students – may be eligible to receive the Benefit if they meet the other eligibility requirements.

If I am already receiving Employment Insurance Regular Benefits, Should I reapply for the CERB?

No, if you are already receiving Employment Insurance regular benefits, you will continue to receive these benefits until the end of your benefit period. You cannot be paid Employment Insurance benefits and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for the same period.

Can I have other income while receiving the CERB?
  • You must have stopped working as a result of COVID-19 and be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period. This includes income from paid leave, self-employment income or collection of any Employment Insurance benefits.
  • For subsequent periods, you must expect to have no employment or self-employment income.
  • You can also apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.
  • Provided it is allowed in your province or territory, you may also receive provincial or territorial support payments at the same time you receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Do I need to provide any documentation when I apply for the CERB?

You will need to provide your personal contact information, your Social Insurance Number and confirm that you meet the eligibility requirement. You may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify your eligibility at a future date.

Do I need to be laid off to access the CERB?

No, workers who remain attached to their company can receive the Benefit, provided they have stopped working as a result of COVID-19, and expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period. For subsequent periods, you expect to have no employment income. They must also meet the other eligibility requirements.

You can also apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.

When and how will I receive my CERB payments? Is there any waiting period?

Benefits will start within 10 days of you submitting an application. There is no waiting period. Payments will be made through direct deposit or by cheque. You will be paid more quickly if you choose direct deposit.

Do I need a medical certificate to receive the CERB if I am in quarantine or sick from COVID-19?

No. You only need to complete an online application.

Questions about applying for CERB with CRA?

Find answers to common questions with this automated help line:
1-833-966-2099

To speak with an agent about CERB, or CRA My Account:
1-800-959-8281

IMMIGRATION

Would applying for EI or seeking assistance with benefits like CERB has an impact on Immigration status, future applications, PR application, etc? 

No, seeking assistance will not affect your Permanent Residence or other Immigration applications in any way as EI is related to Employment rights. Workers receive EI benefits from the premiums deducted from their income in the past years. There is no involvement with one’s current/future immigration status in Canada. 

Can we still submit new applications to IRCC e.g study permit & extensions, post-graduate work permit, visitor visa & extensions, Express Entry, Spousal Sponsorship applications, etc.?

Yes, IRCC is still accepting new applications. If your application is incomplete, due to a missing document that cannot be obtained due to COVID-19 reasons, there are instructions from IRCC to submit incomplete applications. Please reach out to us to be referred to a specialist.

Are there any delays in processing applications? 

There may be potential delays in the processing of applications. CIC will continue to work on all applications that are currently in process. For any new applications that are submitted and require the applicant to submit biometrics, there has been no announcement yet as to how they will proceed. 

Any issue in getting PGWP during COVID-19?

The eligibility criteria of evaluating an application and guidelines remain the same as listed on CIC’s website. IRCC will update us of any changes in their policies due to the COVID-19 situation.

Any issue in getting PGWP during COVID-19?

The eligibility criteria of evaluating an application and guidelines remain the same as listed on CIC’s website. IRCC will update us of any changes in their policies due to the COVID-19 situation.

Would there be any study permit extension delays and a lack of clarity on whether there would be extensions given to existing permits? 

There has been no special news on IRCC’s end regarding processing of extension applications. They will be processed as before based on the eligibility guidelines listed in IRCC’s operational manuals. As far as new extensions are concerned, IRCC has not posted any information regarding COVID-19 affecting this.

Since IRCC is working with limited staff, is there a grace period for someone’s status expiring while waiting for a decision

The status expiry depends on the candidate’s current permit. If they submit an application before the expiry of their existing permit, the applicant’s status is considered to be “implied status”. During this time, the applicant can live in Canada under the same conditions and status as his original permit.