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)

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

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Egg producers in B.C. aren’t obligated to reveal their production sites. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Not enough local eggs to meet demand: officials

BC Egg Marketing Board doesn’t regulate labelling

The new Malahat Skywalk is expected to be completed by this summer. (Submitted graphic)
Malahat Skywalk expected to be complete by this summer

$15-million project will see 650-metre elevated wooden pathway constructed

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Dezi, a Delta police dog, retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Gin, one of the Kantymirs’ two sheep. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Sheep start up ATV, sit in cars and go for walks in Salmon Arm

Until they bought two sheep, Ken and Karleen Kantymir didin’t realize just how social the animals are

Most Read