On July 31, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a news conference that CERB recipients will soon be transferred to an updated employment insurance (“EI”) system.
This was just an announcement at a press conference, and there were only a few details released, namely:
- CERB recipients will be migrated to an updated EI system in September 2020.
- Benefit amounts may shrink for lower-income recipients with the new EI system. The CERB paid $500 per week for everyone, while EI regular and sickness benefits are equal to 55 per cent of one’s income (up to a maximum of $573 a week). On the flip side, higher-income earners are expected to make more on EI than they were on the CERB.
- There will be an EI sickness and caregivers benefit for people not covered at work if they contract COVID-19 or if a family member gets ill and they are required to take care of them.
- For some who wouldn’t qualify for EI in its old system, like gig or contract workers, there will be a transitional parallel benefit that is similar to employment insurance.
- The new EI system will include the ability to work more hours without a steep clawback in benefit payments.
No other details were released. Importantly, we do not know what the eligibility requirements are for Canadians transitioning from the CERB to EI. However, more details about the shift from the CERB to EI have been promised by the Prime Minister by the end of August 2020.
It may be reasonable to assume that the CERB will not be shortened from the previously-noted end-dates:
- The Federal Government had already promised that the CERB would pay benefits for a maximum of 24 weeks.
- The Federal Government had also already promised that the CERB would be available for all work interruptions until October 3, 2020.
Accordingly, it may be reasonable to expect that the transition from the CERB to the new EI system would apply to all new benefit claims for people who have exhausted their 24 weeks of CERB payments by the September to October 3, 2020 timeframe or for all new work interruptions beginning in and around the September to October 3, 2020 timeframe.
We know there will be confusion, but we will update this post when we know more.