Updated March 25, 2020
We are receiving a flood of questions from individuals who do not believe they will qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for a number of reasons. This includes concerns that they will not meet the minimum number of working hours, or because they are self employed, a freelancer, or in the "gig economy." Obviously, you're understandably worried.
In short: Funding was approved by the senate mere hours ago, so we lack specific details, but significant announcements have been made this morning that support is coming, including a new Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
First Phase of Economic Action Plan
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Finance Bill Morneau have announced the first phase of their Economic Action Plan, providing $52 Billion in direct support to Canadians and businesses, and $55 Billion in deferred tax revenue. This funding was passed by the House of Commons yesterday, and approved today (March 25) by the Senate. The $52 Billion in direct support is broken down into a series of programs including the following:
(1) Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The federal government has repacked the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit into one single Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Here’s a quote from the Government’s press release:
“This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.”
To read more about the CERB, including whether you qualify, who can apply, and other particulars, read our newest Article by clicking here.
(2) Boost to the Canada Child Benefit
There will be a temporary boost to the Canada Child Benefit over the coming months. Families receiving the Canada Child Benefit will receive an extra $300 per child, starting in their May payment.
(3) Boost to GST credit for low and modest income households
Temporarily increasing the GST credit payment for a total average of $400 for single families and $600 for couples.
(4) Increase in Funding for Shelters
$200 Million has been earmarked for support shelters for the homeless, sexual assault centers, and family shelters.
(5) Tax Filing and Payment Deferral
All tax filing is being deferred from April 30 to June 1 for individuals. Canadians who discover they owe taxes will be allowed to postpone tax payments until after August 31, 2020. However, unless you expect to owe taxes it may be beneficial to file earlier to receive your refund.
For more information on any of the above programs, click here to go to the Government of Canada's website.
Funding this size requires Parliamentary Approval
You are probably wondering why you will not be receiving these payments immediately, especially if you're already off work. Funding (budget) announcements of this size require Parliamentary approval. Last week Parliament was shut down to help stop the spread of the virus. It appears Parliament will be recalled to hold an emergency session to debate and vote on the proposed funding packages.
MARCH 25, 2020 UPDATE: Parliament held an emergency session yesterday, and all the proposed spending (and tax deferrals) outlined above was approved by the House of Commons. The Senate ratified this spending today. This puts the roll out of the benefits on track for "early April" as indicated by the Prime Minister last week.
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