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Canada: Simplified employment insurance program, emergency response benefit program (COVID-19)

Canada: Simplified employment insurance program

Canadian individuals may benefit from an extension of the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) program and a temporary simplification regarding employment insurance (EI).


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CERB refers to a wage subsidy program established for employees who were furloughed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. CERB was introduced as a benefit to provide eligible individuals with $500* per week for up to 16 weeks in total, within the original benefit period beginning 15 March 2020 and ending 3 October 2020.

Canada’s federal government on 20 August 2020 announced that it will extend the CERB by an additional four weeks and simplify the EI program to help eligible individuals transition from CERB to the EI system starting 27 September 2020.

Among other changes, the government:

  • Will allow more individuals to qualify for EI by effectively lowering the insurable hours required to qualify and providing national minimum unemployment and benefit rates
  • Will propose new recovery benefits for eligible individuals who may not qualify for EI or are unable to fully return to work due to reasons related to COVID-19
  • Will soon introduce legislation for these benefits (Parliament is currently scheduled to return 23 September 2020)

Read an August 2020 report prepared by the KPMG member firm in Canada

*$=Canadian dollar

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