Claims for COVID-19 benefits of $ 300 per week are open in most provinces and territories
Applications are now open for the expanded Canada Worker Containment Benefit, the government said Thursday after adding most provinces and territories to the eligibility list.
The benefit, announced in November but extended on December 22, allows any worker to seek help if their workplace has been slapped with capacity restrictions of 50% or more amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible workers can receive $ 300 – $ 270 after taxes – for each period of a week until May 7, 2022. Expanded eligibility, however, only applies until February 12, 2022.
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To qualify, workers will also need to have lost 50 percent or more of their earnings due to these capacity limits, according to the government.
Earlier this month, no province or territory met the criteria for residents to apply for the benefit, although several of them then introduced new public health restrictions to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
The eligibility list now includes every province and territory that has reduced capacity for bars, restaurants and other workplaces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut.
National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier said in a statement Thursday that the government will expand eligibility to the remaining regions once similar measures are introduced there. Officials in Saskatchewan and the Yukon have publicly stated that they will not impose restrictions during the holiday season.
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Bill C-2, which brought this new benefit to life, became law on December 17. It is the government’s latest temporary income support for Canadians who cannot work due to the pandemic. It follows on from earlier programs such as the Canada Emergency Benefit (CEP) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRP).
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The government website says the “easiest way” to apply for the CWLB is online, through “My CRA Account”.
The number of nationally confirmed active cases has now climbed to more than 230,000 thanks to the highly transmissible variant Omicron. On the day the benefit increase was announced last week, there were about 72,000.
Further restrictions have been adopted by some provinces since then. Quebec reintroduced a nighttime curfew on Thursday in an attempt to curb the peak in COVID-19 cases, which topped 14,000 on the same day.
Nunavut imposed a ‘breaker’ lockout on Christmas Eve after Omicron variant was detected there amid rising cases, while Atlantic provinces reduced capacity limits for most companies and gatherings.
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Thanks to the wording of Bill C-2, the government was able to immediately expand its COVID-19 benefits in response to these new restrictions – without having to pass new legislation. As part of the C-2, the government has set up regulatory authorities which have allowed it to temporarily extend the definition of “containment”, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland explained last week.
She said they’ve expanded that definition to include capacity limits of 50 percent or more.
“These expanded federal supports will ensure that provinces and public health authorities across the country can continue to make the right, tough decisions they need to make to save lives,” said Freeland.
“The federal government will be there to financially support workers and businesses as we end this fight.”
–With files from Rachel Gilmore
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