Many of our MERIT member employees will be affected in the coming weeks and months by the corona virus pandemic. We understand many of you are anxious about the future and unsure of the supports available to you.

Information is changing at lightning speed these days, but we wanted to let you know there are already programs in place to help you in case you contract the virus, or if you're laid off from work.

We will try to update you when new information becomes available. In the meantime, here is some guidance on questions you might have.
I'm scared to go to work because I might catch the virus
Some people are choosing to "self-isolate" to minimize possible exposure to the virus. We realize this is a very scary time for everyone, but we encourage you to make decisions based on information and not fear.

Many construction sites have implemented additional safety measures to protect their employees. If you're uneasy about going to work, we suggest that your first step should be to talk to your supervisor. Let them know about your concerns.

If proper safety procedures have been put in place and you're still unwilling to work, it is within your power to not got to work. However, be aware that the ROE your employer issues may indicate that you have quit your job, which may affect your ability to qualify for EI.
What happens if I am required to self-isolate or quarantine?
You will need to self-isolate if you
  • have returned from an international trip recently
  • are exhibiting coronavirus symptoms
  • have been directly exposed to someone that has tested positive for COVID-19

Options exist if you're one of the unfortunate few that are required to self isolate:

  • Short Term Disability (STD) - STD coverage under the MERIT plan is optional. Check with your employer to see if you are eligible for it. If you are AND you're in benefit, you can submit your application to Canada Life. Click HERE for more information on STD coverage.

  • WCB Coverage - WCB is available for work-related injuries only. Therefore, since COVID is a virus that is spread through community contact, WCB's acceptance of those claims will be assessed critically to meet their criteria.

  • Federal Government Programs:

  1. Employment Insurance - the one-week waiting period for those who are sick or quarantined is being waived. If you qualify, you'll receive somewhere around 55% of your average weekly earnings to a maximum of $573 a week. Click HERE for more information or to apply for EI benefits.
  2. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) - if you don't qualify for EI, you may receive benefits under the new CERB program, which provides income support of up to $2000 per month. An application portal for the CERB is expected to go live online on April 6.
What happens if I test positive for the virus?
If you contract the virus, your options are similar to those outlined above, including
  • Short Term Disability - APPLY for STD benefits if your employer carries this coverage and you are in benefit. STD coverage lasts up to 120 days
  • WCB - possible coverage, but only if it is certain that you contracted corona virus on the work site
  • EI Sickness Benefits - apply HERE or call Service Canada at 1-833-381-2725. The one-week waiting period for sickness benefits is waived.
What happens if I get laid off due to lack of work?
Layoff Notices - The provincial government has recently provided UPDATES to their provisions around pay in lieu of notice for layoffs resulting from the pandemic. If you are laid off for 12 out of 16 consecutive weeks under these extraordinary circumstances, you will not qualify for any type of severance pay. You will, however, qualify for the COVID-related income support programs that the federal government has announced.

Benefits Coverage - If your benefits are under the MERIT Hour Bank Plan, you will be able to use your banked hours to continue your coverage (minus any disability coverage). Once your banked hours run out, you will be able to self pay for your benefits for a period of 6 months. The current rate for self-paid benefits is about $195 per month and can be paid by VISA, MasterCard or pre-authorized debit. Printable forms can be found  HERE .
For office employee that are laid off, provided Mercon is given the start date of the layoff, the premiums may be paid for up to 6 months to continue coverage. Short and long term disability coverage would not be in effect during the period of lay off. 

If you have any questions about your coverage, EMAIL Mercon or call them at 1.877.263.7266.

Income Support - while you will not qualify for STD or EI Sickness Benefits, you will still qualify for either EI benefits, or the federal CERB programs. 

Employer Subsidies - both the federal and provincial governments are updating their PROGRAMS to address the wide-spread effects of the pandemic. They have already announced programs to provide wage subsidies to employers. The hope is that these programs will encourage employers to forego layoff notices and to keep people employed, even if part time.
This is a LOT of information to take in! For an overview, refer to our short REFERENCE GUID E for some basic information.
Saskatchewan has developed many programs to support its residents, including the Self-Isolation Support Program, which provides income supplement to individuals forced to self-isolate and are not covered by the federal EI or CERB programs. The program provides $450 per week for 2 weeks. Click HERE for more information on this and other programs provided by the province.
The federal government has been equally busy introducing programs to support Canadian citizens and businesses. Click HERE for a list of programs available through the federal government.

You can apply for most programs online through the existing CRA and Service Canada portals.
Mental health is especially fragile during this time. If you're experiencing depression or anxiety, we encourage you to reach out the MERIT Employee Assistance program (1-877-916-9116...24/7) or contact your regional mental health centre. Inform yourself on how to stay safe , and how to support your mental health throughout the crisis.
Things you can do to support yourself
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
  • Take care of your body. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, stretch, or meditate
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, and avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  • Speak to a counselor
MERIT is here to help - connect with a counselor through EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program)
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety call:
  • 211 Saskatchewan for local social, community, health and government support programs -, Call 2-1-1, Text 211
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
  • Text - TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
  • Kids Help Phone -, call 1.800.668.6868, text CONNECT to 686868