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

This Crescent Beach home, located at 12505 22 Ave., was subject of a police search warrant June 18. (Google image)
Civil Forfeiture Office alleges Crescent Beach home used to launder money

Court documents request the home, and $85,000 to be turned over to the government

Incumbents Ravi Kahlon (BC NDP) and Ian Paton (BC Liberals) are set to serve another term in office representing Delta North and Delta South, respectively. (Submitted photos)
UPDATED: Incumbents hold on in Delta North, Delta South

Ravi Kahlon (BC NDP) and Ian Paton (BC Liberals) lead in their respective races; mail-in ballots still to count

Surrey firefighters battle a house fire near the 70A Avenue and 126A Street intersection early Sunday morning. According to a witness, it appears that the occupants were able to get out without injury. (Shane MacKichan photos)
PHOTOS: Fire causes extensive damage to Surrey home

Occupants able to escape without injury: witness

Delview Thanks4Giving committee members Alexa Liptak (left) and Amanda Quibing stand with the donation box outside the school’s front entrance. (James Smith photo)
Thanks 4 Giving food drive going drive-thru due to COVID-19

Organizers hope North Delta residents will come to them for Delview Secondary’s annual food drive

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Mounties looking for teen boy ‘unlawfully at large’ from Riverview psychiatric hospital

Nolan Godron left the hospital, located at 2721 Lougheed Highway in Coquitlam, without consent on Saturday

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Most Read