What we know so far about the CERB to EI transition – National


As summer draws to a close, millions of Canadian Emergency Response Benefit recipients wait to know what comes next as the economic impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic lingers.The last qualifying period for which Canadians can receive the $ 2,000 per month benefit ends on September 26. Once Canadians run out of emergency income support, Federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough has promised a “seamless” transition to the EI program.

READ MORE: Manitoba MP Makes Motion to Convert CERB Benefit to Permanent Basic Income

The Canadian labor market has only partially rebounded from the economic impact of COVID-19, according to economic data. As of mid-July, more than 40 percent of the millions of workers affected by the pandemic were still unemployed, according to Statistics Canada’s latest labor market report.

According to an analysis by economist David Macdonald of the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, of the approximately 4.7 million Canadians who received CERB at the beginning of August, only 1.4 million would be eligible for EI according to normal rules.

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The federal government, however, has said it is tweaking the EI program to expand eligibility. Here’s what we know so far.

Coronavirus: “CERB has achieved its goal,” said Employment Minister Qualtrough to explain planned move to EI

Coronavirus: “CERB has achieved its goal,” said Employment Minister Qualtrough to explain planned move to EI

Which CERB beneficiaries without employment will continue to receive support?

Qualtrough has vowed that “no one will be left behind” in the move to EI. But Macdonald warned that “millions” could fall through the cracks if the transition is “badly made.”

According to Macdonald’s analysis, where current CERB recipients might fall depends on how Ottawa changes EI.

Canadians who were eligible for EI before the CERB. If you belong to this group, you can breathe easier than most. Macdonald calculates that 1.4 million people who were at CERB in mid-July would have qualified for EI under the traditional system (estimate is based on Labor Force Survey figures, which differ slightly of those used by Macdonald to calculate the total number of CERB recipients in early August).

Yet one of the concerns of these Canadians is the amount they will receive from employment insurance in relation to CERB. Over 800,000 people will likely have less than the emergency benefit of $ 500 per week. On average, these workers will only receive $ 312 per week from EI, Macdonald calculates.

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In an upcoming report, Macdonald also found that about 70,000 CERB beneficiaries will receive between $ 200 and $ 300 per week through EI, while 285,000 would only receive between $ 100 and $ 300 per week. $ 200.

Eighty-seven percent of CERB beneficiaries in British Columbia and 84 percent of beneficiaries in Ontario would be worse off or be without benefits under the EI transfer under current rules, according to the report.

“The numbers in Ontario are really concerning, with 1.2 million CERB recipients worse off after switching to EI,” Macdonald writes. Of those, he adds, nearly 900,000 are at risk of being deprived of federal income support under the current system.

READ MORE: Trudeau government should rethink EI as CERB ends, union group warns

However, nearly 630,000 would earn $ 500 or more. The maximum weekly benefit under the current EI system is $ 573.

Employment and Social Development Canada has previously stated that participation in the CERB program will not affect the number of weeks of EI benefits for which a person is eligible. This also applies to maternity and parental benefits.

Review of Canadian Employment Insurance

Review of Canadian Employment Insurance

Yet about two million Canadians would not automatically switch to EI under the current rules, according to Macdonald.

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CERB beneficiaries working part time. If you earn $ 1,000 per month or less, you can work and continue to receive CERB. But the rules for employment insurance are different. In general, workers have to be completely unemployed and without wage income to register for EI, Macdonald noted, although it is possible to return to work part-time while on EI. .

Parents who had to stop working for lack of daycare. Although CERB is offered to those who are forced to reduce their hours or give up work due to family tasks, EI is not. There are at least 18,000 people in this situation, although the actual number is likely “much higher,” Macdonald wrote.

Self-employed workers and construction workers. Traditionally, EI does not cover these workers, although the government has indicated that it will create a transitional benefit similar to this for them.

Those who do not have enough hours to be eligible for employment insurance. There were about 150,000 people who earned $ 5,000 in the past year but did not have enough hours of employment to qualify for EI, Macdonald estimated. However, that number likely fell to around 50,000 when Ottawa announced changes on Aug. 10 that would effectively reduce the number of insurable hours needed to access the program, Macdonald told Global News.

Manitoba MP Makes Motion to Convert CERB Benefit to Permanent Basic Income

Manitoba MP Makes Motion to Convert CERB Benefit to Permanent Basic Income

Will there be a benefit gap?

Qualtrough said the move to EI will happen “without a break in benefits.” The system is “robust” and “ready to absorb the millions of Canadians it needs,” the minister said in question period Wednesday.

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But the transition will be an important test for the EI infrastructure, which has run into technical and backlog problems resulting in payment delays during CERB rollout.

READ MORE: CERB poses back-to-work dilemma – “We are urged to earn just under $ 1000”

What do I need to do to qualify for Income Support and how long will the benefits last?

The federal government has said it will have more to say about upcoming changes to EI next week, but it has already announced a significant change.

Ottawa established a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% for all EI economic regions in Canada as of August 9.

Normally, the lower the unemployment rate in a region, the higher the bar to qualify for EI and the shorter the benefits. The opposite is true when local unemployment is high.

Setting the unemployment rate at 13.1% means that EI claimants will be guaranteed a minimum of 26 weeks, or about six months, of benefits and will only need 420 hours of employment. qualifying job in the last year to be eligible.

Canadians living in EI regions where the unemployment rate is less than 13.1% will have their EI benefits calculated based on the new national threshold. Those who live in areas with higher unemployment rates will have their benefits calculated using the actual regional rate, the government said.

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