COVID-19 Economic Response Plan -
Legislative Update
The Emergency Response Benefit legislation combines the previously announced “Emergency Care Benefit” and the “ Emergency Support Benefits ” as described in the March 18, 2020 COVID-19 Economic Response Plan (ERP). While continuing to focus on those not eligible for traditional employment insurance (EI) the actual legislation now provides coverage to a broader group of people than originally announced.


While the ERP describes the payments as support for those who are infected, in isolation, are caring for a family member who is sick, or are required to care for children due to school closures but are not eligible for EI sickness benefits, a March 25, 2020 Department of Finance update notes that it is also now available for: workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work ; and wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who are not eligible for conventional EI benefits.

The legislation requires the applicant to be an “ eligible worker ”, which means that they must be:

  • at least 15 years of age;
  • resident in Canada; and
  • for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day on which they make an application had a total income of at least $5,000 from
  • employment;
  • self-employment;
  • certain EI benefits (maternity and parental benefits); and
  • allowances, money or other benefits paid to the person under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the person of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption.

The worker, whether employed or self-employed, must cease to work for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment.
For the period of cessation of work, the applicant cannot receive income from the sources listed above , and cannot receive any other EI benefits . Further, workers that quit voluntarily are not eligible.


These income support payments can be made for a maximum of 16 weeks (previously noted as 15 weeks in the ERP). Amounts are determined by the Minister. Further, up to $2,000 would be provided per month (previously announced as up to $900 biweekly). These payments are not subject to law relating to bankruptcy or insolvency and are not garnishable.

Application process

A worker may apply for an income support payment for any four-week period falling within the period beginning on March 15, 2020 and ending on October 3, 2020 (payments are made every four weeks). Canadians would begin to receive their payments within 10 days of application . The rest of the application process has not yet been announced but will be made available in the first week of April, 2020.

Other notes

The legislation does not exclude shareholders or their family members as long as they meet the income requirements.
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