Focus readers will recall that, in late August, the Federal Government announced its intention to introduce legislation that would support the creation and implementation of three new recovery benefits to become available as of September 27, 2020:
- Canada Recovery Benefit (“CRB”)
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (“CRSB”)
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (“CRCB”)
On September 24, 2020, the Federal government tabled Bill C-2, An Act relating to economic recovery in response to COVID-19. Amongst other things, Bill C-2 would have enacted the Canada Recovery Benefits Act to authorize the payment of the CRB, CRSB and CRCB in response to COVID-19.
On September 28, 2020, rather than amending Bill C-2, the Federal government tabled a new Bill (Bill C-4, An Act relating to certain measures in response to COVID-19) that incorporates changes to the CRSB sought by the NDP. Bill C-4 was passed by the House of Commons on September 29, 2020. The Bill received first reading in the Senate on September 30, 2020, was passed by the Senate without amendment and received Royal Assent on October 2, 2020.
Although generally quite similar to what was originally announced in August and discussed in our previous Focus Alert, the CRB, CRSB and CRCB as tabled are different in certain ways.
The following table provides a high-level overview of each of the new recovery benefits under Bill C-4, including details on benefit amounts, duration, eligibility criteria and other limitations or restrictions.
|Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)||Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)||Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)|
|Benefit Amount||$500.00/week||$500.00 for each 1-week period||$500.00 for each 1-week period|
|Benefit Duration||26 weeks (13 two-week periods)||2 weeks||26 weeks
Aggregate per household
|Benefit Period||September 27, 2020 – September 25, 2021||September 27, 2020 – September 25, 2021||September 27, 2020 – September 25, 2021|
|Reasons related to COVID-19||
Working while receiving the CRB:
1. Are caring for a child under 12 years of age on the first day of the period for which the benefit is claimed because:
2. They are caring for a family member who requires supervised care because their day program or facility is unavailable or closed or available or open only at certain times or for certain persons, or the family member cannot attend for reasons similar to those set out in #1, above.
Family member is broadly defined to include “anyone whom the person considers to be like a close relative or who considers the person to be like a close relative.”
Canada Labour Code Amendments
Bill C-4 also makes amendments to the temporary, unpaid job-protected Leave Related to COVID-19 (“COVID-19 leave”) under the Canada Labour Code (“Code”) in order to align the Code leave with the three new Canada recovery benefits.
For employees working in federally-regulated workplaces, the amended leave will be available from October 1, 2020 to September 25, 2021, after which time it will be repealed and replaced with up to 16 weeks of Quarantine Leave. Quarantine Leave under the Code was originally intended to come into force on October 1, 2020, but the passage of Bill C-4 will delay the operation of this provision until September 26, 2021.
COVID-19 Leave under the Code
Employees who are unable to work will be entitled to COVID-19 leave under the Code, as follows:
For up to two weeks, where the employee:
- has contracted, or might have contracted, COVID-19;
- has underlying conditions, is undergoing treatments or has contracted other sickness that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19; or
- has been advised to self-isolate by their employer, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority for reasons related to COVID-19.
For up to twenty-six weeks in the aggregate per household, where the employee must care for either:
i. A child under the age of 12 on the first day of the period of leave due to one of the following reasons:
- The child’s school or other facility is closed, open only at certain times or open only for certain children.
- The child cannot attend school because they:
- Have contracted or might have contracted COVID-19
- Are in isolation on the advice of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority for reasons related to COVID-19, or
- Are at risk of having serious health complications if they contracted COVID-19, in the opinion medical practitioner or nurse practitioner.
- The person who usually cares for the child is not available for reasons related to COVID-19.
ii. A family member requiring supervised care because their day program or facility is unavailable or closed or the family member is unable to attend the day program or facility for reasons similar to those noted in i, above.
A family member is broadly defined to include anyone whom the person considers to be like a close relative or who considers the person to be like a close relative.
Employees who reside in the same household are deemed to share the 26-week limit; furthermore, only one employee in each household is permitted to take leave for the care of a child or other family member at any given time. Leave may be taken in one or more periods, and an employer may require that each period of leave not be less than one day.
Any COVID-19 leave already taken by an employee under the current Code provision will not be counted in determining the maximum amount of leave available once the amended provision comes into effect.
General requirements applicable to other Code leaves will also apply to COVID-19 Leave, such as:
- An employee is entitled, on written request, to be informed of employment, promotion or training opportunities that arise during the period when the employee is on leave and for which the employee is qualified;
- Prohibition of reprisal for taking leave:
- An employer cannot dismiss, suspend, lay off, demote or discipline an employee because the employee intends to take or has taken COVID-19 leave. An employer cannot take such leave into account in any decision to promote or train the employee;
- An employer may assign an employee to a different position, with different terms and conditions of employment, if the employee after the leave is unable to perform the work performed by the employee prior to the absence;
- Continuity of benefits – pension, health and disability benefits, and seniority continue during the period of the leave:
- Where contributions are required from an employee, the employee is responsible for those contributions during the leave unless the employee notifies the employer that they wish to discontinue contributions;
- An employer who pays benefit contributions must continue to do so during the leave;
- The ability to interrupt or postpone vacation or to interrupt certain leaves; and
- Deemed continuous employment during the period of leave for the purposes of calculating benefits.
In Our View
The temporary recovery benefits are available for eligible workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance. We had discussed the changes to streamline the Employment Insurance program in our previous Focus Alert. The temporary recovery benefits will be applied for through and administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
The application process for the CRB is not yet open, and the CRA has indicated that details will be made available on October 12, 2020. The application process for both the CRSB and CRCB opens on October 5, 2020. More information on the new recovery benefits and the application process can be found on CRA’s website.
For more information on your rights and obligations as an employer dealing with COVID-19 or related matters, please contact Colleen Dunlop at 613-940-2734, Steven Williams at 613-940-2737 or Kecia Podetz at 613-940-2752.