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  • Income supports for workers during the Coronavirus pandemic
    Updated On: Mar 27, 2020

    Information for Local 258 IBEW members

    UPDATED: MARCH 25, 2020 - THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS ANNOUNCED THE CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT, REPLACING THE PREVIOUSLY ANNOUNCED EMERGENCY CARE BENEFIT AND THE EMERGENCY SUPPORT BENEFIT. 

    POSTED MARCH 23, 2020 – PLEASE BE ADVISED: THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IS AN EVOLVING SITUATION AND INFORMATION IS BEING ANNOUNCED AT A RAPID PACE. LOCAL 258 IBEW WILL ENDEAVOUR TO KEEP GENERAL INFORMATION FOR YOU REGARDING INCOME SUPPORTS AS CURRENT AS POSSIBLE BUT CANNOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR CHANGES TO INFORMATION THAT IS OUTSIDE OF OUR CONTROL, INCLUDING SPECIFIC EMPLOYER POLICIES.

    AS OF MARCH 12, 2020, ALL WORKERS WHO HAVE TRAVELLED OUTSIDE OF THE COUNTRY MUST SELF-ISOLATE FOR 14 DAYS BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR EMPLOYER FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTION BEFORE RETURNING TO WORK AND TO DETERMINE INCOME SUPPORTS AVAILABLE DURING THIS TIME AWAY FROM WORK. READ MORE HERE. 


    Additional information:

    Resources for workers during COVID-19 - BC Federation of Labour


    I am a worker with COVID-19 and/or in isolation: 

    • Your employer may have a short-term disability or sick leave program that you need to apply for before applying for EI Sickness Benefits. Check your collective agreement or contact your Local 258 IBEW Assistant Business Manager (ABM) for assistance

    • If you have worked more than 600 hours in the past year or since your last EI claim, you qualify for EI sickness benefits. For more information on EI Sickness Benefits, check out the section on EI below

    UPDATED MARCH 25, 2020 - The Government of Canada has announced the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit, providing a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

    • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support. 

    • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.

    • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures. 

    • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.

    • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

    The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.

    • Your job will be protected during this leave of absence by federal and provincial legislation. 


    I am a worker caring for a family member who is sick with COVID-19: 

    • You may have “family responsibility leave”, “caregiver leave” or other provisions of your collective agreement which provide paid leave. Check your collective agreement or contact your Local 258 IBEW Assistant Business Manager (ABM) for assistance.

    • If you do not qualify for EI, the federal government is now, as of March 25, 2020, providing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

    • Your job will be protected during this leave of absence by federal and provincial legislation. 

    I am a worker who needs to stay home from work in order to provide care for my children due to school closures: 

    • The federal government is now, as of March 25, 2020, providing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

    • The federal government will also be increasing the Canada Child Benefit in the next few months with a top-up of up to $300 per child. More details will be forthcoming from the federal government. 

    I am a worker whose employer has closed and/or limited service or production (permanently or temporarily). 

    • You may qualify for EI Regular Benefits if you have accumulated enough qualifying hours. 

    • If you do not qualify for EI, the federal government is now, as of March 25, 2020, providing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

    Employment Insurance benefits: 

    EI Sickness Benefits 

    • If you cannot work because of a medical condition or because you are in quarantine, and you have worked at least 600 hours in the last year or since your last EI claim, you are eligible for up to 15 weeks of EI sickness benefits. (Note that employer-provided sick leave should be used first.) 

    • These benefits cover 55 per cent of your earnings to a maximum of $573 a week. 

    • Normally, EI benefits have a one week waiting period between the time you stop working and when you can access benefits. For Canadians who are in quarantine, the one week waiting period has been waived, allowing you to access benefits immediately

    • The federal government has also established a new, dedicated toll-free number for enquiries regarding the EI Sickness Benefits waiting period: Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free, English and French) 

    • Applications from Canadians under quarantine will receive priority processing. 

    • As well, medical certificates are normally required from a qualified medical professional in order to apply for EI Sickness Benefits. However, in cases where patients are required to go into quarantine by law, by a public health official, or by their employer if instructed by public health officials, the requirement to have a medical certificate is being waived. For patients put into quarantine as a precaution who test positive at a later time, a signed medical certificate will be required beyond the initial period of quarantine. 

    • People who cannot apply for benefits immediately because of their period of quarantine will be able to apply later and have their claim backdated to the start of their quarantine period. 

    • To apply, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-sickness/apply.html

    EI Regular Benefits 

    • The number of hours you need to have worked in the past year or since your last EI claim in order to be eligible varies according to the local rate of unemployment in your region. 

    • To find your economic region, search by postal code at this link:
    https://srv129.services.gc.ca/ei_regions/eng/postalcode_search.aspx

    • EI benefits cover up to 55% of your earnings to a maximum of $573 a week. 

    • The number of weeks of benefits you will receive depends on both your local rate of unemployment and the number of hours that you worked in the preceding year or since your last EI claim. 

    • To apply, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html

    EI Work-Sharing – your employer must apply and be approved to qualify for this arrangement

    • In cases where an employer has lowered the level of service or production and is willing to spread the available work among employees in order to avoid layoffs, the federal government offers Work-Sharing arrangements. 

    • In order to be eligible, employers must have been in business in Canada year-round for at least two years and be a private business, a publicly held company, or a not-for-profit organization. 

    • In order to qualify for Work-Sharing, an employer must be facing a reduction of at least 10% in normal business activity (not just revenue); the reduction must be due to circumstances beyond the employer’s control; and the employer must be committed to returning to normal levels of business. Employees must be permanent employees or temporary employees working the same hours as permanent employees, must be eligible for EI, and must agree to work reduced hours in order to equally share work among all employees. 

    • Over the course of the agreement, the reduction in work must be on average between 10 per cent and 60 per cent. Actual hours can vary per week if the average is maintained over the course of the agreement. 

    • Work-Sharing Agreements have a minimum duration of six weeks. Due to the situation with COVID-19, the federal government has extended the maximum duration to 76 weeks. 

    • While normally, there must be a waiting period in between Work-Sharing Agreements, the federal government has temporarily waived this requirement. 

    • During the period of Work-Sharing, the employer must maintain all benefits. However, benefits may be reduced if they are normally calculated on an hourly basis. 

    • Your employer must submit paperwork to the federal government 30 days in advance of the anticipated start date. 

    • Once this paperwork has been approved, each worker will need to apply for EI benefits individually. Individual eligibility requirements (regarding work hours) still apply. 

    • There is no waiting period for Work-Sharing Benefits. 


    More information is available at the following Government of Canada websites:

    Department of Finance Canada > Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: support for Canadians and Businesses

    Health > Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

    Employment and Social Development Canada > Employment Insurance


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