Your Guide to the Federal COVID-19 Aid Legislation
March 25, 2020
Bill C-13 today received royal assent, bringing into force many of the initiatives first announced by the federal government on March 18, 2020 in response to the challenges employees and employers are facing due to COVID-19.
Part of Bill C-13 brought into force the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act respecting income support payments for workers related to COVID-19. The Act entitles workers (defined as Canadian residents of at least 15 years of age who, for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day on which they make an application, had a total income of at least $5,000 from employment, self-employment, EI benefits, or other provincial allowances related to pregnancy or adoption) to apply for an income support payment for any four-week period falling within the period beginning on March 15, 2020 and ending on October 3, 2020.
To be eligible the worker must have ceased working for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period for which they are claiming, and cannot have quit their employment voluntarily. They also must not have not received income, benefits, or allowances from a provincial plan in relation to pregnancy or care of new-born or adopted children during that time. Employers who have conducted employee lay-offs but continue to pay for benefits for their employees do not disentitle their employees to this assistance as the definition of benefits in the Act is taken from section 2(1) of the Employment Insurance Act which excludes “employment benefits”.
Several variables relating to this benefit are yet to be determined, and will presumably be set shortly by Regulation, including what information will be required in the application, the amount of the weekly income support payment and whether income support payments can exceed 16 weeks.
Recipients are protected from creditors in that payments made under the Act will be exempt from laws related to bankruptcy or insolvency and are not garnishable for the purposes of the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act.
Bill C-13 also brings into force amendments to the Canada Labour Code and to the Employment Insurance Act foregoing requirements for employees to provide medical certificates in order to receive benefits or leave pursuant to those Acts. A new 16-week, unpaid, job-protected leave related to COVID-19 has also been added to the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated employees.
If you have any questions about how these new initiatives will impact your workplace the lawyers in Field Law’s Labour and Employment Group are available to answer your questions and advise you and/or your organization.