CERB is being replaced with a new EI payment. This is what it means for working holidaymakers in Canada

Canadian Working holiday visa tax refund

Since being introduced on 6 April, the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB for short, has provided more than 8.5 million people, including countless working holidaymakers, with $2,000 a month in relief.

The Canadian government introduced the payment following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Canadian government has now announced that CERB will be reverting to the Employment Insurance (EI) scheme on 27 September.

It comes as unemployment rates rise across the country, with many nonresidents struggling to find jobs.

This will mean that nonresidents who are currently unemployed due to COVID-19 will be provided with more income boosts during these tough times.

lake in Canada

How will the changes affect non-residents?

As a working holidaymaker, if Service Canada has been providing you with CERB, and you are already eligible for EI, then you will swiftly be moved to EI benefits once your CERB ends next month.

If you are able to claim EI but have been collecting CERB through the CRA, then you will need to apply through Service Canada.

Nonresidents will now only need to have 120 hours of eligible employment to access unemployment and work-sharing benefits. These benefit thresholds are also relevant to maternity, parental, sickness, and caregiver benefits.

The government has also increased EI benefit for working holidaymakers to a minimum of $400 per week.


Recovery Benefits

Nonresidents will now be able to claim a COVID-19 sickness benefit based around the virus. Through the ‘Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit’, workers who are too sick to carry out their work can claim$500 per week. This is still available to them if they have to self-isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test.

The Canada Recovery Benefit has been introduced to give a boost of $400 per week to those who cannot claim EI, mainly those who are self-employed. You can still earn an income while receiving this pay – but it must not exceed $38,000. It will not be available if you quit your job.

Both of these payments will be available to non-residents for the next twelve months, perhaps longer.

The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit will also provide $500 per week to some eligible non-residents. This is applicable to you if you cannot work at least 60% of your normally scheduled employment due to caring needs for your child who is under 12 years of age, a family member with a disability, or a dependent because:

  • their school, daycare, day program, or care facility is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • they cannot attend their school, daycare, day program, or care facility under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19; or
  • usual caregiver is not available due to COVID-19 reasons

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