Recent EI claimants to switch to federal coronavirus emergency benefits – and many to receive increases – National

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The federal government will automatically transfer the 2.1 million Canadians who have applied for EI benefits since March 15 to Canada’s government emergency response benefit program, a measure that could allow many claimants to ‘AE to get more money every week.

This decision is made by a government that is less concerned with designing elegant programs and more concerned with withdrawing money quickly.

This means that someone who applied for and started receiving EI benefits after March 15, say $ 350 a week, will start receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) next week. worth $ 500 per week. But it also means that those receiving the maximum EI benefit of $ 573 per week will receive a wage cut, up to the CERB level of $ 500 per week.

“All those who would have received less than five hundred dollars, we increase them to this amount of five hundred,” said Cliff Groen, assistant deputy minister of Employment and Social Development Canada on the House of Commons finance committee, on Thursday. common. “So they may have received $ 350 last week and this week and a good number of them – over 100,000,000 (processed) last night – we transferred them over there to their amount of actual payment of $ 500. And those who haven’t yet will certainly do so in the coming days. “

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This increase is also automatic – no need for those who have previously applied to EI to reapply.

And even if EI recipients receive CERB payments, they will not use EI eligible weeks for payments. These “employment insurance weeks” are suspended. This means that if a person reaches the end of the four-month CERB benefit period, they could resume receiving EI benefits for how many weeks remaining that person was eligible to receive benefits before obtaining a CERB check. The maximum number of weeks that a person can receive EI benefits ranges from 14 to 45 weeks in most cases and is based on the characteristics of the regional workforce.

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Those who had applied for and received EI benefits before March 15 will remain – at least for now – in the EI stream and will continue to receive the benefits they received in accordance with the rules of the insurance that were in effect at the time they were approved.

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In his testimony before the Finance Committee, the Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, as well as representatives of the Canada Revenue Agency, Employment and Social Development Canada and the Department of Finance, recognized that the design of certain Help programs may not be seen as fair by some. or adequate. But, as Morneau said on Wednesday, the government is trying to put in place and deliver programs in a week which, under normal circumstances, could take a year or more to be designed and implemented.

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For example, some of the EI recipients before March 15 could have been financially better off with CERB. Government officials recognize that there will be an attempt to correct these inequalities once the programs are operational.

It is not known how many current EI beneficiaries will receive an increase when they move to CERB, nor is it known how many will benefit from a salary reduction when they move to CERB.

The federal government predicts that nearly four million Canadians will receive CERB checks of $ 500 / week in the month following the program’s activation on April 6.

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