The federal government expects that 4.4 million Canadians will apply for a new sick-leave benefit that pays up to $1,000 over two weeks for those unable to work because they have contracted COVID-19 or are forced to self-isolate because of the virus. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)

Canadians with COVID-19 or caring for those with it can apply for federal money today

Feds anticipate 700,000 Canadians will apply for the caregiver benefit and 4.4 million for sick leave

Canadians forced to miss work because of COVID-19 can start applying for financial support from the federal government today.

The new benefits come amid concerns about new lockdowns and job losses as governments try to get a handle on the growing number of new cases and prevent health-care systems from being overwhelmed.

They also follow a bitter political fight in Ottawa that saw all parties support the multibillion-dollar suite of new benefits despite misgivings about how it was rushed through Parliament by the Liberal government.

“It is vital that Canadians have access to income support that reflects the impacts the pandemic has on their employment,” National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said in a statement on Sunday.

The new caregiver benefit responds to numerous calls since the pandemic started for more support for parents and others who are forced to miss work to care for a dependent due to COVID-19.

Women in particular have seen a disproportionate impact on their careers and earnings because of the pandemic, with many shouldering much of the burden in terms of child care and home schooling.

Canadian households will be able to apply for $500 per week for up to 26 weeks when one person misses more than half a week of work because they have to care for a child because of the illness.

That includes children whose schools or daycares are closed due to COVID-19, and children who are forced to miss school or daycare because they have contracted the virus or may have been exposed.

The benefit, which Canadians can apply for through the Canada Revenue Agency, also applies to people forced to miss work to care for family members whose specialized care is unavailable due to COVID-19.

The federal government anticipates 700,000 Canadians will apply for the caregiver benefit.

Canadians will also be able to access a new sick-leave benefit that pays up to $1,000 over two weeks for those unable to work because they have contracted COVID-19 or are forced to self-isolate because of the virus.

Ottawa expects 4.4 million Canadians to apply for sick leave.

READ MORE: Canada’s top doctor gives tips for COVID-safe Thanksgiving amid high daily cases

The federal NDP had made the creation of a sick-leave benefit for workers a condition for it to support the Liberals’ effort to fast-track billions of dollars in new COVID-19 relief through Parliament last week.

The package included the two new programs and a third replacing the $500-per-week Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the main support program for those unable to work due to COVID-19.

Canadians can start applying for the new Canada Response Benefit, which will also pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, starting Oct. 12.

Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff on Sunday welcomed the new caregiver and sick-leave benefits as long overdue for Canadian workers whose employers don’t offer such support.

They are also timely given the rising number of cases in different parts of the country, he said. More than 1,600 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Sunday, even though some provinces did not provide updated numbers.

The figures have prompted fears of looming lockdowns in some areas.

“It’s really a blessing for a lot of people who are going to need them,” Yussuff said of the new benefits.

“People are going to have the security of having an income if they have to take time off, and not have to worry about not being able to pay their rent or buy groceries or whatever their needs might be.”

Yet even as he welcomed the new benefits, Yussuff noted they are only temporary and that COVID-19 has underlined the need for permanent caregiver and sick-leave support even after the pandemic.

“While these benefits are temporary in nature, they also speak to the fact that millions go to work every day without having sick leave or access to family-care leave,” he said.

Canadian Federation of Independent Business president Dan Kelly described the new caregiver and sick-leave benefits as “entirely reasonable” given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.

Yet he expressed concern about any move making the measures permanent, suggesting businesses will be forced to shoulder much of the financial burden in the form of increased EI premiums or taxes.

“Any of those changes will have to come from the pockets of employers that are already empty,” Kelly said, adding that the vast majority of small businesses have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kastor Hansen gets the right timing on the double-Dutch ropes, cheered on by principal, Bruce Becker. For the past 10 years, Becker has been Silver Creek Elementary’s principal, he is now moving on to become principal at Coquihalla Elementary School. (Barry Stewart/Hope Standard)
Bruce Becker to be Coquihalla Elementary’s new principal, leaving role at Silver Creek open

Longtime SD78 educators Monique Gratrix and Peter Flynn are retiring

A woman holds a packet of contraceptive pills. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Chilliwack women’s organization among those lobbying for free contraception

Ann Davis Society says while it’s a women’s issue, all of society would benefit from program

Peggy Ardnt (left) and Ed Ardnt (right) present the symbolic first poppy to Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Leo Facio. This presentation is traditional across Canada to share awareness of the poppy campaign leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Agassiz Legion presents first symbolic poppies

Local dignitaries accepted the poppies, continuing a long-standing tradition

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:56 a.m., Oct. 29.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Left lane is blocked, traffic backed up to No. 3 Road

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

Most Read