'We are easing a big financial stress for workers and are providing income support to them faster'
The federal government is temporarily waiving the waiting period for employment insurance (EI) claimants who establish a new claim between Jan. 31, 2021 and Sept. 25, 2021.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Canadian labour market, resulting in job losses and significantly reduced work hours for many. We recognize that workers in Canada face different challenges and as such, need different kinds of support,” says Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion.
“By temporarily waiving the waiting period, we are easing a big financial stress for workers and are providing income support to them faster. This certainty will go a long way for families and for communities who are feeling the effects of this pandemic especially hard."
The temporary change will allow people who are applying for benefits to be paid for their first week of unemployment and will help ease their heightened financial stress at a time of great uncertainty, says the government.
Recently, Ottawa announced it is looking to temporarily adjust the treatment of certain deductions with respect to regular EI benefits, including EI special benefits.
People who open a new EI claim after Jan. 31, 2021 and return to work before exhausting all of their weeks of entitlement will benefit from an additional week of income support, due to the removal of the waiting period.
However, the temporary measure will not change the total weeks of EI benefits to which they are entitled, nor the service standard for payment, says the government. Claims will be automatically processed with this new waiver, meaning workers are not required to take additional steps to receive the support they need.
The government previously waived the waiting period for EI sickness claims established on or after Sept. 27, 2020 for a period of one year. The waiting period was also waived for EI claims established between Sept. 27, 2020 and Oct. 25, 2020 so claimants didn’t face a week without a payment as many workers transitioned from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to the simplified EI program.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) said more than two million Canadians would be worse off transitioning from the CERB program to the EI program.
Three temporary recovery benefits were put in place to support workers who do not qualify for EI and require income support. They include the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.