Feds provide pandemic benefits

Many people continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19 and require temporary income support. To ensure that Canadians continue to receive the help they need the federal government has introduced three new benefits, delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).

Applications for the CRSB and the CRCB opened on October 5. The application process for the CRB is also now available.

The CRB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who have stopped working or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50 per cent due to COVID-19 and who are not eligible for EI.

The CRA is providing a simple and efficient application process for the CRB similar to the one that millions of Canadians relied on to access Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Eligible people can apply for these benefits online through the CRA’s My Account portal or by phone through the automated toll-free phone line at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

To ensure that the recovery benefits provide more targeted support for those people who continue to need it, the application process for the CRB includes new elements, such as:
shorter eligibility periods of two weeks; retroactive periods, meaning that people will be required to apply after the two-week period has ended; a 10% tax withholding at source; meaning that people will receive payments of $900 for each two-week eligibility period; a three-to-five day window to receive payments for applications made by direct deposit, and a 10-12 day window for cheque by mail.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19, or have underlying conditions that would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible people unable to work because they must care for a child under 12 years old or other family member requiring supervised care, who is unable to attend their school or regular care facility, due to COVID-19.

People may earn income of up to $38,000 for the calendar year while receiving the Canada Recovery Benefit. People will have to reimburse $0.50 of the Canada Recovery Benefit for every dollar of net income earned above $38,000, up to the maximum benefit they received. This will be calculated and repaid as part of their income tax return filing when they do their taxes for the year.

To be eligible for any of the recovery benefits, people must have earned at least $5000 (before deductions) in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months prior to applying.

To be eligible for the Canada Recovery Benefit, individuals must be available and looking for work, and must accept work when it is reasonable to do so

In some cases, people will be asked to provide additional information to help verify their eligibility before starting to process their application. For example, if records do not show that an applicant has earned the minimum amount of $5000 as required to be eligible, they may ask the applicant to provide documentation to support their claim. As with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, people who have received benefit payments but are later found to be ineligible will be required to repay the amounts.

People cannot apply for or receive, for the same period, more than one Recovery Benefit, Employment Insurance benefits, or workers’ compensation benefits.

The government is committed to having safeguards in place to protect Canadians from fraud and non-compliance. To this end, the CRA is taking steps to implement additional verification and security measures up-front, to help ensure that they deliver benefit payments only to people who are entitled to receive them.

To apply for these benefits, Canadians are encouraged to sign up for CRA’s My Account, ensure that personal information with the CRA is up-to-date, and register for direct deposit. People are encouraged to file a 2019 tax return, if they haven’t done so yet, as this will reduce the likelihood that the CRA would need to request additional information before the application could be processed.

For information about these benefits including eligibility requirements, how to apply, and eligibility period dates, visit the CRA’s webpages at www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html

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