Applying for EI in BC

during the  COVID-19 Pandemic

****March 25 Update:

Full news release here: Government introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses

Excerpt- News release, March 25, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Finance Canada

The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.

The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

*March 20 Update:

The BCGEU made a nice looking version of this document that may be clearer to read:

Click here: EI Factsheet

ORIGINAL DOC, MAR 16 2020:

Step 1: Pick the type of applicant you are to see which steps are relevant to you

EI Applicant Type:

      T1. For those out of work due to self quarantine. Do not have to be laid off by your employer to qualify, but must be able to say your employer or a medical professional asked that you stay home. You must be unable to work from home to qualify.

      T2. For those out of work due to workplace closure due to COVID-19. Must have worked a combined total of 700 hours in the last year if you worked in Vancouver (different cities have different, sometimes lower, hour requirements). This is all your workplaces combined. Do not call the hotline, this can be done through regular EI lines.

      T3. For those on quarantine that may finish their quarantine to find their workplace closed.

READ THIS LINK FOR MOST CURRENT UPDATES AND CHANGES TO EI:

***Updated as of Wed March 18, 2020:

            Canada's COVID economic response plan info

New developments on who will be able to apply for EI:

Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

"What if I don't qualify for EI?

The federal aid package also includes the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit. The Emergency Care Benefit provides up to $900 every two weeks for up to 15 weeks, to those affected by COVID-19. It's intended for those who don't qualify for EI, can't go to work and don't have paid sick leave." This will not be in effect until April, 2020. Will add updates as they are released.

What’s going on? What’s different between COVID-19 EI and regular EI claims]

Services Canada Info:

Up to date info page on EI stance on COVID-19  to check in on:

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada

Excerpt From Page:

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

If you are eligible, visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.

Service Canada is ready to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
  • Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period
  • Priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine
  • People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay

Contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, do not visit or enter any Service Canada office.  As an alternative, you may access our services online or by calling 1 800 O-Canada.

***Folx can delay application due to quarantine but ideally should apply within 4 weeks of losing their job.

Step 2: Call the COVID EI Hotline

For those who have been asked by their employer or a medical professional to stay home and quarantine due to COVID-19.

T1  & T3

Hours are 8:30am-4:30pm

Plan to be on hold for several hours- I called at 12pm Mon March 16 and was on hold for 3 hours. I’ve heard from people they were on hold for 6 hours. You can do the next steps while on hold. Make sure you have your phone plugged in, on speaker, and somewhere you will be able to answer quickly when they pick up.

Toll free number : 1-833-381-2725

If you are inquiring about EI due to quarantine, this is the number for you. The other EI number is not dealing with COVID cases, and vice versa.  Doctors note requirement is waived during this crisis.

Step 3: Gather your information

T1 &  T2 & T3

You will need the following information on hand when you fill out your EI application:

The first and last date of your employment

Your SIN Number.  If your SIN begins with a 9, you need to supply proof of your immigration status and work permit.

Your mother’s maiden name.

Your mailing and residential addresses, including the postal codes.

Your complete banking information to sign up for direct deposit, including the financial institution name, bank branch number, and account number. You can get this from your online bank account or a blank cheque. See photo below on how to read this information off your cheques:

Names, addresses (including postal codes), phone number for all your employers over the last 52 weeks

You need to find your paystub or cheque for your HIGHEST earning two week period in the last year. Go through your bank statements to find your cheque deposits if you don’t have your paystubs. They won’t ask for this now, but if your number is way off you can be audited. This means if you usually make $500/wk but in a two week period last summer where you picked up extra shifts, you made $700/wk, use these weeks. They DO NOT need to be two consecutive weeks. You may add the money you made from multiple employers together (ie; Narrow Lounge and Rumpus Room). Please list the amount you made BEFORE deductions such as staff tabs, taxes, medical insurance, vacation pay etc. You can not claim tips. You will receive up to 55% of this number as your EI payment (up to a max of $573/week in Vancouver) For example, if you made $100 wk on paper, you should receive $55 per week on EI.

MAR 18 UPDATE: The EI payout cap has been raised to $900/ bi-weekly during covid, up to 14 weeks.

From site: “The dates, Sunday to Saturday, and earnings for each of your highest paid weeks of insurable earnings Footnote1 in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is the shorter period. This information will be used, along with your Record(s) of Employment, to calculate your benefit rate.”

A note on tips: you may claim tips if they are ‘controlled tips’, this means that your employer collects and distributes the tips instead of the employees themselves. Controlled tips are declared on your tax return and are taxed. Direct tips, such as tips left on a table by a restaurant patron that go directly to staff are not insurable.

Step 4: Fill out the online EI application

T1 &  T2 & T3

It may take up to an hour, but is as fast as 15 min if you have all above information gathered.

Fill out online EI application at:

EI Regular Benefits - Apply

Submit your form online. Once submitted, you will be supplied with a confirmation number, please write it down for reference later. If you make any mistakes that you realize after submission, there is a number you can call to update your application, this number will be listed on the page after you submit.

Your employer is able to submit your Record of Employment (ROE) online, or if they will not, you can request a paper version from them and mail it. Your application will not be approved until your ROE is obtained by Services Canada.

Online:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/ei-roe.html

By Mail (photocopy should be ok, but was unable to confirm):

Service Canada Center

W-T Region

P.o. box 245

Edmonton AB

T5J 2J1

*IMPORTANT* Selecting reason for unemployment on EI application:

T1 & T3: Select ‘medical leave’ as reason for not working. This is the option that covers quarantine and people staying at home due to COVID-19 isolation. This will last for 14 days (time of standard isolation), and if you develop symptoms during this period of isolation, you may need to restart the clock. They are unsure currently if at that point you would need to get a note from a doctor, but currently the ‘medical note’ is waived for this isolation period so people stay at home.

T3: If you finish your time in quarantine to find your workplace is closed or unable to provide you with shifts, you can request your work email you a ‘layoff’ notice so you may update your EI type after your 2 wk isolation.  You can not do this until your 14 day isolation ‘sick leave’ is over. You must call to change your EI claim type after 2 weeks. Toll free number : 1-833-381-2725

 T2: If your workplace is closing due to COVID-19, ask your employer for a notice of layoff until work can restart. You may select reason for no work as ‘layoff’ (option 1) instead of ‘medical leave’, and do not have to reapply once quarantine is over.

Step 5: They finally answered your call!

T1 & T3

Be kind! These operators have had a very stressful week and don’t know much more than you about what’s going on or how best to help you. Sometimes they are working with information that has only been released to them a few minutes earlier. Thank them for what they are doing!

They will ask you for your SIN number and some information such as your name and birthdate to locate your EI application you just submitted online. They will read you a statement and ask you for a yes or no answer if this applies to you. It essentially states that ‘I am currently out of work or in quarantine under the advisement of my doctor, a health care professional or by request of my employer.’ If you agree to this statement, the one week waiting period that is standard with new EI claims is waived. If you do not agree to this statement, this hotline is not for you and can’t help, please use the standard online EI form instead. If you disagree with this statement, you can not be paid EI for the first week of unemployment.

Step 6: Bi-weekly updates

T1 &  T2 & T3

A part of EI is supplying Services Canada with bi-weekly updates. This includes if your situation has changed, say you are no longer in quarantine  or your work has reopened. You can submit your updates on your My Services Canada page:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/my-account.html

Bi-weekly reporting can also be called in at 1-800-531-7555.

*Usually the agents will ask for the first 2 digits of the 4 digit access code that is mailed to you upon filing an application. Agents are trained to ask for the last 3 digits of your SIN. Generally you will not be asked for your full SIN over the phone.

You will be mailed a login number (digital ID) when your application is processed (make sure that ROE is submitted!). It may take up to 3 weeks to process due to overwhelming demand during this pandemic. If your 3 weeks has passed since they received your ROE and all parts of your application, give them a call back. It is still up in the air what differences are going to be made and what requirements will be omitted for those affected by COVID-19 currently. Expect the requirements and this information to change over the coming weeks.

Step 7: Bonus Step! Write to your MP’s

In a time of crisis, no one should be worried about how they will be able to afford rent or eat. No one should be going to work if they don’t feel safe. Stay home if you have the privilege to do so, and use some of the time to write to our leaders about supporting small businesses and people that need it right now. It shouldn’t be this hard to afford basic living expenses while we are isolating! Bars and restaurants as well as other high contact public places need to be subsidised to shut down- simply advising people to stay home while not making it law puts small business owners at risk of losing everything. Landlords and creditors can not be expecting full payments from a population that needs to stay home. Now is the time to support the people!

*Mar 18 Update- Some landlords will be able to apply for mortgage deferral during this crisis, and those payment deferrals should be passed on to their tenants. Get on the phone or email your landlords to ask what they are doing to help tenants that are out of work due to COVID-19, be communicative! Many will be understanding, hopefully, but the more people coming together to ask for this the greater the pressure will be on for them to comply. We have to stick together as a community. If you’re able to donate financially to your local food bank, please do, they are being stretched far past their limits right now. Also find out what day is payday and social service payment day in your area and try to time your grocery shopping to avoid these times so those among us living paycheque to paycheque have access to supplies they desperately need. (In Vancouver, standard is the 4th Friday of the month and the 2nd and 4th Friday of the month)

-John Horgan - premier@gov.bc.ca or by phone at 1-250-387-1715

-Find your MP by your postal code: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en/search

-A huge way that you can support people in the DTES and other high risk people during this crisis is to call the ministry today (1 866 866 0800) and ask them what they are doing to help people on assistance or PWD to prepare for this.

Still have questions? Try  here!

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/reports/digest.html?fbclid=IwAR3bmTaX8VJmQbYUNHH9rPsYQBmCKEsJDs9G7oVDoPbR5MMhiPO13XJZ1ww

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  • Please note I’m not an expert on this! Just a restaurant employee that’s out of work this week and trying my best to compile information to share! If you have any corrections or updates please feel free to email me at christina.e.mackay@gmail.com  :)