Coronavirus & relief benefits: The 5-minute summary

Coronavirus & benefits infographic

The coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt the lives of so many Canadians. In response, the federal government has further evolved the relief it offers those struggling to navigate these unprecedented times. Here, we explain the key benefits for workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The main supports available 

A snapshot of the four main supports

Employment insurance (commonly called EI) is the federal government’s program to help people who are out of work. Due to the pandemic, the EI program has been temporarily expanded to cover more workers. In addition to EI, there are three pandemic relief programs operating currently. The result:

  • Those who have lost their job through no fault of their own can get EI regular benefits for up to 45 weeks. 

  • The Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB) is a $500 weekly payment, for up to six weeks. It’s available to those who aren’t able to work at least 50% of the week because they’re ill or self-isolating due to the pandemic, or have an underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to COVID-19.

  • The Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB) is a $500 weekly payment, for up to 44 weeks. It’s available to those who aren’t able to work at least 50% of the week because they’re caring for a child or family member affected by the pandemic. 

  • The Canada worker lockdown benefit (CWLB) is a $300 weekly payment. It’s available to those whose work has been affected by a COVID-19 lockdown in their area, for as long as the lockdown lasts. 

Employment insurance regular benefits

If you’ve lost your job through no fault of your own — including for reasons related to coronavirus —  you may be eligible for EI regular benefits. These are temporary payments to help those who are out of work.

The federal government has made temporary changes to the EI program to help more workers access these benefits. The changes are set to expire on September 24, 2022. To qualify, you must:

  • in the last 52 weeks, have worked at least 420 hours in work covered by the EI program

  • have lost your job through no fault of your own (for example, if you were fired for misconduct or you chose to quit when you had other reasonable options, you wouldn’t qualify for EI)

  • have gone seven straight days without work or pay from a particular employer

There are more requirements. Here are the details

For most people, the basic rate for calculating EI regular benefit payments is 55% of your weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount. For very low-income families with kids, there’s a top up to 80% of average weekly earnings.

The benefits last for up to 45 weeks, depending on how many hours you worked in the last 52 weeks and where you live in BC. This chart shows how many weeks of benefits you could receive

Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB)

Alert!

The Canada recovery benefit programs expired on May 7, 2022. Applications for the final period of benefits remain open until July 6, 2022. See the federal government's website for details.

The Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB) is intended to help those who are unable to work because they’re ill, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health problems due to the pandemic.

To qualify, you must be unable to work at least 50% of your usual work week because you’re self-isolating for one of the following reasons:

  • you’re sick with COVID-19 or may have it,

  • you’ve been advised to self-isolate, or

  • you have an underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

As well, you must meet all these criteria for the one-week period you’re applying for:

  • you aren’t receiving paid leave from your employer,

  • you didn’t receive workers’ compensation, disability, or other recovery benefits,

  • you reside in Canada,

  • you weren’t self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel,

  • you’re age 15 or older, and

  • you made at least $5,000 in income in 2020, 2021, or in the 12 months before you apply.

Here is a list of the full requirements

The CRSB provides $500 per week, for up to six weeks. (The benefit is taxed at source, so the amount you actually get is $450.) 

This benefit is available until May 7, 2022.

Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB)

Alert!

The Canada recovery benefit programs expired on May 7, 2022. Applications for the final period of benefits remain open until July 6, 2022. See the federal government's website for details.

The Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB) is intended to help those who are unable to work because they’re caring for a child or family member affected by the pandemic. 

To qualify, you must be caring for a child under age 12 or a family member who needs supervision for one of the following reasons:

  • their school, daycare or other care facility is unavailable due to the pandemic,

  • their regular care services are unavailable due to the pandemic, or

  • the person under your care is ill, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health problems due to the pandemic.

As well, you must meet all these criteria for the one-week period you’re applying for:

  • you’re unable to work at least 50% of your usual work week because you’re caring for a child or family member,

  • you’re the only person in your household applying for the benefit,

  • you aren’t receiving paid leave from your employer,

  • you didn’t receive workers’ compensation, disability, or other recovery benefits,

  • you reside in Canada,

  • you weren’t self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel,

  • you’re age 15 or older, and

  • you made at least $5,000 in income in 2020, 2021, or in the 12 months before you apply.

The full requirements are explained here.

The CRCB provides $500 per week, for up to 44 weeks. (The benefit is taxed at source, so the amount you actually get is $450.) 

Note only one eligible person per household can apply each week. If more than one person in your household is eligible, you can split the 44 weeks between you as long as no two people apply in the same week.

This benefit is available until May 7, 2022.

Canada worker lockdown benefit (CWLB)

Alert!

The Canada worker lockdown benefit program expired on May 7, 2022. Applications for the final period of benefits remain open until July 6, 2022. See the federal government's website for details.

The Canada worker lockdown benefit (CWLB) is intended to help those who are unable to work or have seen a drop in their income due to a COVID-19 lockdown order in their region.

To qualify, your work must have been affected by a lockdown order in one of the following ways during the week you’re applying for:

  • you lost your job when the lockdown order took effect,

  • you were unable to perform the work you normally do as a self-employed person, or

  • you had a reduction of at least 50% in your average weekly earnings.

As well, you must meet all these criteria for the one-week period you’re applying for:

  • a region where you live, work, or provide a service is designated as a COVID-19 lockdown region,

  • you didn’t receive workers' compensation, disability, or other recovery benefits,

  • you didn’t quit, voluntarily stop working, or refuse work (unless it was reasonable to do so),

  • you've been vaccinated against COVID-19 or it’s not required for your work,

  • you reside in Canada,

  • you weren’t self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel,

  • you’re age 15 or older, and

  • you made at least $5,000 in income in 2020, 2021, or in the 12 months before you apply.

The full requirements are explained here.

The CWLB provides $300 per week, for each one-week period you apply for. (The benefit is taxed at source, so the amount you actually get is $270.) 

Designated COVID-19 lockdown regions are only eligible for specific weeks. Check the federal government’s website for a current list of lockdown regions. You can apply for any one-week period for up to 60 days after the period has ended.

Take action

You’re no doubt wondering: Which benefits can I get? We can help you figure out which benefits you’re eligible for, and the steps to take action.

  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in May 2022
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Time to read: 6 minutes

Reviewed for legal accuracy by

Kevin Love, Community Legal Assistance Society

Kevin Love

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