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

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich residents warned to watch livestock after bear kills llama

Officers with Conservation, Saanich police could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

A 23-foot sailboat that broke free from its anchor was smashed against Cattle Point during the early October south-easterly storms. (Ron Geezin Photo)
Storm-smashed boat pulled off rocks of Cattle Point in Oak Bay

Sailboat a casualty of last week’s big storms

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

More than 250 riders took part in the fifth annual Tripleshot CrossFondo, which riders across parts of the Saanich Peninsula, including this field near Sluggett Farms. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tripleshot CrossFondo rides across Saanich Peninsula

More than 250 cyclists took part in mystery-course race

City of Victoria crews will soon be gathering up fallen leaves in neighbourhoods and city parks. First up on the pickup list are the James Bay, Fairfield, Rockland, Gonzales and South Jubilee neighbourhoods, starting Oct. 19. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria city leaf pickup a sure sign of fall

Residential pickup begins Oct. 19, drop-offs can happen anytime at city yard

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Steven Michael Bacon pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder of Nanaimo teen Makayla Chang. (Photos submitted)
Accused pleads not guilty in Nanaimo teen’s 2017 murder

Steven Bacon appeared in Nanaimo court Monday via video link from Thunder Bay

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Most Read