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Updated:
August 12, 2020

We have created a table to help keep you informed on which benefits are taxable or not. Remember to report the taxable payments when filing your 2020 taxes.


 

Benefit

Taxable?

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Yes

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers (BCEB)

No

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

Yes

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Yes

Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy

Yes

Canada Child Benefit supplement

No

One-time payment for seniors receiving OAS and/or GIS

No

One-time payment for individuals with Disability Tax Credit

No

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Updated:
August 12, 2020

We have made a table to help you figure out what benefits you may be eligible for. Be sure to check government sites for complete eligibility requirements.


 

My Situation

Financial Help Available

I have lost my job

CERB - if you have already applied to EI you do not need to reapply to the CERB

EI - if you became eligible for benefits before March 15

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers - applications opened May 1, 2020

I was let go from my job for reasons not related to COVID-19

If you are eligible for EI benefits, and you were let go after March 15th, you will likely qualify for the CERB. If you lost your job before March 15th, you can apply for EI

I can’t work because I have to take care of children or a sick relative

CERB may apply to your situation

I am an essential work but make less than I would if I was receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Your employer may provide you with the BC COVID-19 Temporary Pandemic Pay.

If you have had reduced hours and are earning $1000 or less per month, you may still be eligible for CERB.

My EI benefits just ran out or are about to run out

You may still qualify for the CERB if you exhaust your EI benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020

I am sick with COVID-19 or am in quarantine

CERB applies to people who stopped work due to COVID-19 including if you are sick with it or are in quarantine

I just came off of maternal/paternal leave

If you cannot return to work after your maternity/paternity leave because of COVID-19, you may still be eligible for CERB 

I am a student or recently graduated and job opportunities are scarce

You may be eligible for a number of programs: 

Canada Emergency Student Benefit

Youth Canada Job Bank 

Student Loan payment and interest suspension

Canada Student Grant

NEW: Canada Student Service Grant 

I am self-employed or a contractor and do not qualify for EI

Self employment income counts towards the eligibility requirements of the CERB. You may still qualify

I lost a lot of work but still make some money or I lost one job but still have another job.

If you have made less than $1000 in the 14 days before you apply, you may still qualify for the CERB

I still have my job but my hours have been significantly or entirely reduced

If you have made less than $1000 in the 14 days before you apply, you may still qualify for the CERB

I am a seasonal worker

Seasonal workers who recently ran out of EI benefits may still be eligible for the CERB

I am looking for a job Visit the Government of Canada Job Bank 

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Updated:
August 12, 2020

BC is slowly opening up and some people are returning to their jobs. WorkSafeBC has updated guides to maintain a safe working environment during COVID-19 for both employers and employees. 

The People’s Law School ran a webinar on “Returning to Work During the Pandemic,” and you can watch the recording HERE.

 

Updated:
August 12, 2020

If you are on Income Assistance, Disability Assistance, Comforts Allowance or the BC Senior's Supplement, and not  on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit or Employment Insurance, you will automatically receive an extra $300 a month for April, May, June, July and August. You do not need to do anything to receive this money as it will be added to your usual payment. 

If you are on disability assistance, you will also automatically receive an extra $52 transportation supplement beginning in April and continuing until BC Translink resumes charging fares. 

 

Updated:
August 12, 2020

Unless you lost your job on or after March 1st, 2020, unfortunately, no. The qualifications listed on the website say that you must be approved for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to be eligible for this particular benefit. This means that persons must have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or became eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020.

If you became eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits due to COVID-19 Coronavirus on or after March 15, 2020, your EI claim may have been automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, allowing you to qualify for the BCEB. If you’re not sure, you can confirm by calling Service Canada at 1-833-699-0299.

For more information on other eligibility requirements go HERE.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

No, an ROE is not required to apply. Employers should still provide one, however, in case an employee later needs to apply for regular Employment Insurance. You may, however, be asked to provide additional documentation to verify your eligibility at a future date. For more questions and answers about the CERB go HERE.

For information regarding how to attain a Record of Employment, visit the Government of Canada ROE page.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

There are a number of federal programs designed to help employers keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

  1. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will cover up to 75% of an employee’s salary for the weeks between March 15 and November 21, 2020. Employers of all sizes can be eligible if they saw a gross revenue loss of at least 15% in March and and 30% in April, May and June. Eligible employers who had any drop in revenue can now qualify for the wage subsidy, starting with the claim periods that began July 5. Applications are open as of April 27, 2020. 

 

  1. The Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy is a separate program from CEWS but allows eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for 3 months (from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020). Maximum $1,375 per eligible employee and $25,000 per employer. 

 

  1. The Work Share Program helps employers and employees avoid layoffs by allowing employees to collect EI while voluntarily reducing hours and sharing the available work with other employees. To help employers keep employees on staff during COVID-19, the government has relaxed some requirements and extended the maximum length of the agreement.

 

  1. Temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program means employers can receive a subsidy to cover up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee, extend the end date of employment, adapt their projects, and hire employees part-time. 
  1. The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, June and July.


For a complete list of government initiatives established to support businesses during this time, see HERE.The government is encouraging employers to use these programs to keep employees on the payroll or to hire back employees they have already laid off. 

Updated:
August 12, 2020

Starting April 27, 2020, eligible employers, including individuals, corporations and nonprofits, may apply for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). This allows Canadian employers who have been impacted by COVID-19 to receive a subsidy of up to 75% to cover employee wages for the period retroactive March 15, 2020 to November 21, 2020. See HERE for the new changes

For claim periods 1 to 4 (March 15 to July 4, 2020), you must meet a minimum of 15% (period 1) or 30% (periods 2 to 4) revenue drop to qualify for the subsidy. The subsidy rate is 75% of eligible employees' remuneration, up to a maximum of $847/week per eligible employee.

Changes to CEWS as of claim period 5 and later (July 5 to November 21, 2020), the subsidy rate varies, depending on how much your revenue dropped, and if your revenue drop was less than 30% you can still qualify and keep getting the subsidy as employees return to work and your revenue recovers.

The online CEWS calculator can be used to help estimate your subsidy amount. Applications can be submitted through various means, including the CRA. For additional information on eligibility and how to apply, visit the Government of Canada CEWS page.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

Yes. You will need to report the payments you receive on next year’s taxes. Income tax will not be deducted from your payments so be aware that you may owe more taxes next year. How much you need to pay back will depend on how much you earn in 2020.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

If you’ve lost your job or can’t work because of COVID-19 Coronavirus you may be eligible for a number of financial supports. To learn about the difference between each program and your eligibility requirements check out this Summary.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

To qualify for the CERB, you must have earned at least $5,000 in the last 12 months or in 2019. 

The $5,000 includes all employment and self-employment income. This includes among other types of income, tips you have declared as income.

Go to Questions and Answers on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for more information on the types of income that count towards the CERB income qualification. 

 

Updated:
August 12, 2020

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19 Coronavirus, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support.

The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 24 weeks. The Benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. You can apply no later than December 2, 2020 for payments retroactive to within that period.

Go to Questions and Answers of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for more information on qualification.

In response to COVID-19 Coronavirus, all in-person Service Canada Centres are closed until further notice. To see if you are eligible and to apply, see the Government of Canada CERB information online. You can apply through either the CRA or Service Canada.

Source:
Updated:
August 12, 2020

WorkSafeBC has published a range of information for employers and employees on how to maintain safety at the workplace during the crisis. See HERE for WorkSafeBC guidelines. Note the specific industry guides.

Every employer is required to have a COVID-19 safety plan that assesses the risk of exposure at their workplace and implements measures to keep their workers safe. Please be reminded that in accordance with the order of the Provincial Health Officer, this plan must be posted at the worksite. 

Updated:
August 12, 2020

Workers have the right to refuse unsafe work. Anyone working in BC should understand their workplace health and safety responsibilities, which can be found at WorkSafeBC. However if your employer is following safety guidelines, your refusal could be taken as you quitting. Quitting has serious consequences as you will likely not be eligible for many of the benefits meant to help workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak, including the Canada Response Benefit. Consider your options before refusing work: talk to your boss about ways to make you feel more safe, review WorkSafeBC guidelines, and get legal advice. 

See: Can I get free legal advice during the COVID-19 crisis?

See People’s Law School’s COVID-19 Coronavirus page for more work-related information.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

In response to COVID-19 Coronavirus, a new unpaid, job-protected leave has been established for British Columbians unable to work for specified reasons relating to COVID-19 including:

  • you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • you are under quarantine or self-isolation (such as if you returned to Canada from abroad)
  • your employer has directed you not to come to work because they are concerned you may have been exposed
  • you need to take care of your child or dependent adult for a reason related to COVID-19
  • you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • you are outside of BC and unable to return to work due to travel or border restrictions

To learn more about the new COVID-19 Coronavirus leave, see HERE.

Furthermore, recent changes to the Employment Standards Act provide up to three days of unpaid, job-protected leave for employees who can't work due to personal illness or injury.

If you can, try to resolve your dispute with your employer. If you are unable to do so you can submit a formal complaint

If you are in need of legal advice you can reach out to Lawyer Referral Service for a free consultation. Contact them at 1-800-663-1919 or (604) 687-3221 or email lawyerreferral@accessprobono.ca  


For more information related to COVID employment issues see People’s Law School.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

There are a number of provincial and federal programs that have been developed to assist people who have had their income affected by the COVID-19 crisis. For a list of programs and supports for workers, see this table.

See HERE for a list of BC programs designed to provide financial support. The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to people who lost income because of COVID-19. Applications opened May 1, 2020. To qualify you need to be a BC resident on March 15, 2020, and are at least 15 years old when you apply, have been approved to receive the CERB, have filed (or agree to file) your 2019 tax return, and not be receiving provincial income or disability assistance. 

See HERE for a list of federal programs. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $500 a week for up to 16 weeks for eligible workers. Applications are open as of April 6, 2020. 

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit provides eligible post-secondary students and recent highschool and post-secondary graduates with monthly financial support between $1,250 and $2,000 for up to 24 weeks, depending on whether the student has dependents or a disability. Applications are open as of May 15, 2020.

Keep checking government sources as new programs are being announced almost every day.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

If you became eligible for benefits before March 15, 2020 you should apply for EI. If you became eligible on or after March 15, 2020 you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), rather than EI. If you applied for EI on or after March 15th, your EI benefits will automatically be moved over to the CERB program. If you were receiving EI benefits prior to March 15th, then you will continue to be paid EI benefits until the end of your benefit period.

Everyone who qualifies for CERB will get $500 a week for up to 24 weeks. Learn more about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The time you are receiving CERB will essentially pause your EI benefits. This means that if you qualify for 4 months of EI when you start receiving the CERB, you will still have 4 months of EI when the CERB ends. 


The CERB application process opened on April 6, 2020. Service Canada is asking that people stagger their application by birthday, so as to avoid overwhelming the system. Check Canada Emergency Response Benefit to see when your best time to apply is.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

The CERB applies to people who cannot work because of COVID-19 Coronavirus. That includes people who are unable to work because:

  • They are sick from COVID-19 Coronavirus or in quarantine, 
  • They have to take care of others who are sick or in quarantine
  • They have to take care of children or dependents whose usual care facility is closed because of COVID-19 Coronavirus
  • You have been let go or your hours have been reduced because of COVID-19
  • You are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020

If you voluntarily quit your job, you will not be eligible for these benefits. See the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for more information on eligibility and how to apply.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

If you have stopped working due to COVID-19 you may be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), even if you would not normally qualify for EI. For example, if you are self-employed or a contractor. If you don’t qualify for EI, you can apply through the CRA. The Federal Government will provide a taxable benefit of $500 a week for up to 24 weeks.

To be eligible for the CERB, you must 

  • reside in Canada 
  • be at least 15 years old 
  • have stopped working due to COVID-19 or are eligible for EI benefits,
  • not have voluntarily quit your job 
  • have earned at least $5,000 in 2019, or in the 12 month prior to applying for the CERB
  • not have earned more than $1,000 in any income (including self-employment income) for 14 consecutive days in the first 4 weeks of the benefit period. When filing subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more $1,000 in income (including self-employment income) for the entire 4 week benefit period of your new claim. 

See the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for more information.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

You should go to the Labour Relations Board (LRB) website for the latest updates. So far the LRB is still taking applications and complaints but they advise their response may be delayed.

If you have any questions or concerns about an active file, the LRB can be reached at registrar@lrb.bc.ca. For any other questions contact information@lrb.bc.ca.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

Be sure to contact your union or check with your union’s web page for updated information

The BCGEU has a list of frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 Coronavirus, information sheets, and a contact that members can use to ask COVID-19 questions.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

The Canadian Government announced  a number of programs designed to help businesses during the COVID-19 Coronavirus crisis, including:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for companies who experience a loss of revenue due to the outbreak may be eligible for a wage subsidy of up to 75%. This wage subsidy may be available to companies no matter how many employees they employ. Nonprofits are also eligible.
  • Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy
  • Extending the Work-Share Program
  • Increasing access to credit
  • Allowing businesses to defer paying income tax, GST, and customs duty payments
  • The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April, May, June and August 2020. Applications are open now

For a full list and details of BC and federal programs to help businesses, see go to the  the BC COVID-19 Supports for Businesses and see the Federal Government’s Economic Response Plan.

To get answers to your COVID-19 business questions go to the BC Business COVID-19 Support Service and the COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre.

Updated:
August 12, 2020

Probably yes. First, consult your lease, and see if there’s any clause that you can point out that can relieve you of the obligation to pay rent during the pandemic. No matter what, try to keep communication lines open. Your landlord is no doubt aware of the situation. Perhaps you can defer the rent payment, or agree to just pay a part of it for a few months. 

If you have insurance, call your broker. It may be that you’re covered for business interruption insurance and can make a claim for compensation at this time.

Otherwise, the Business Development Bank of Canada has an emergency loan program for entrepreneurs. Take a look at the federal government announcement on how they intend to support businesses, including tax deferrals and paying part of employee wages.

More recently, the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 Coronavirus. The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, June, July and August. Applications are now open. See the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for further details or to apply.

For more help and information for businesses, see Small Business BC’s new COVID-19 Support Service.

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