Everyone is concerned with the growing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on ourselves, our families, and our communities.
As citizens, one way we support each other during emergencies is by building up our social safety net when we pay our taxes. The elected officials and civil servants of our federal, provincial, and municipal governments are working extremely hard to use these resources to protect our health and to support people across the country who are facing financial disruptions.
If you need to miss work because you are required to self isolate:
People who have returned from travel outside Canada, who have or are showing symptoms of having the COVID-19 virus, and / or who are caring for someone who has or is suspected of having the virus are among those who are required to self-isolate. The Alberta Employment Standards Code protects most Albertans from losing our jobs if we need to miss work to deal with health and other family issues. There are also supports to replace some of the income you lose when you aren’t working.
Many employers offer paid sick leave. Ask your supervisor or union representative if you have paid sick days.
If you required to self-isolate, you can take up to 14 days of job protected leave. You do not need a medical note. If the quarantine, illness, or recovery period lasts longer than 14 days, you may be eligible to access other job-protected leaves.
- The Government of Alberta is now providing a one-time Emergency Isolation Support benefit of $1,146 to bridge the gap before other federal supports are available. You will need an Alberta driver’s license or ID to apply. Confirm that you are eligible and apply online by visiting https://emergencyisolationsupport.alberta.ca/
- If you are employed, you may already be eligible for the Employment Insurance Sickness Benefit or one of the Employment Insurance Caregiving benefits.
- If you are self-employed and registered for access to EI special benefits for self-employed people, you may be eligible for these sickness or caregiving benefits if your registration was confirmed 12 months ago or longer.
- If you are employed or self-employed (including as an independent contractor) and not eligible for these EI benefits the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be available starting in April. This taxable benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to 16 weeks regardless of EI eligibility. Get ready to apply by creating a CRA My Account today.
Important to know:
- If you are already receiving EI sickness or caregiving benefits as of March 25th you will continue receiving these benefits, and should not apply for the CERB.
- If your recent application for EI sickness or caregiving benefits hasn’t been processed yet, you will not need to reapply. If your application is denied, you can then apply for the CERB.
- If you still meet the eligibility requirements for EI sickness or caregiving benefits after the 16 week period covered by the CERB, you can apply for them at that time. This will include self-employed workers who registered for EI special benefits for self-employed people.
If you believe you contracted COVID-19 at your workplace, you may be eligible for compensation. Check out the Workers’ Compensation Board Fact Sheet for more information.
Job protected leave for other health issues, family responsibilities, and emergencies remain in place. If you have been fired for missing work for any of the reasons covered under these job-protected leaves, please contact Alberta Employment Standards. Learn more about your Employment Rights and dealing with COVID-19.
If you have been laid off, are unable to work, or have had your hours reduced:
Many companies and organizations are being ordered to close or reduce their operations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You may be able to receive Regular Employment Insurance Benefits if you meet the eligibility requirements including:
- You recently lost your job through no fault of their own
- You have paid into Employment Insurance (your pay slips should show a deduction for EI)
- You worked 630 hours or more in the 52 weeks before you were laid off. This number of hours applies to residents of Calgary, and includes hours from any jobs you had in the past year, not just your most recent employer.
- You are ready and able to work each day
If you need to miss work for any of the following reasons, you can receive the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit:
- You have stopped working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
- You have had to stop working and must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- You have not been laid-off but you are not being paid because there is currently not enough work and your employer has asked you not to come to work.
- You earn wages, including through self-employment and contract work and are otherwise not eligible for Employment Insurance.
This taxable benefit will provide $2,000 a month for up to 16 weeks and will be available starting in April. Get ready to apply by creating a CRA My Account today.
Important to know:
- If you are already receiving Regular EI Benefits as of March 25th you will continue receiving these benefits, and should not apply to the CERB right now. If your EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, and you can’t return to work due to COVID-19, you can apply for the CERB once your EI benefits end.
- If your recent application for Regular EI Benefits hasn’t been processed yet, you will not need to reapply. If your application is denied, you can then apply for the CERB.
- If you are still unable to work the end of the 16 week period covered by the CERB, or have been officially laid off during that period, and if you still meet the eligibility requirements for RegulaB EI benefits covered by the CERB, you can apply for them at that time.
Job protected leave for other health issues, family responsibilities, and emergencies remain in place and income-replacement supports may be available. If you have been fired for missing work for any of the reasons covered under these job-protected leaves, please contact Alberta Employment Standards. Learn more about your Employment Rights and dealing with COVID-19.
If you need other financial support:
- Residential customers (homeowners and renters) will be able to pause their electricity and / or natural gas bill payments as well as their water, waste and recycling services for the next 90 days. Please contact your service provider for more information.
- You will have until June 1 to file your taxes, and until August 31 to pay any amount you owe. If you usually get a return, you can file your taxes now.
- Canada’s 6 largest banks, along with Alberta Treasury Branch, and other credit unions will provide options to pause mortgage payments and manage other debt. Contact your financial institution for more information.
- Families with children will get a boost to their May 2020 payment of the Canada Child Benefit to help with added childcare or other household costs.
- If you receive the GST tax credit, the federal government is planning for a one-time, additional credit, to be paid in early May
- People repaying an Alberta Student Loan and / or a Canada Student Loan, will have the option to pause your payments for up to six months. Interest will not accrue during this time.
- You may be eligible for Alberta Income Support and / or Emergency Financial Assistance.
If you need other kinds of support:
Community-based organizations, including Momentum, are following all public health guidelines while also rallying our energy and innovation to find ways to continue providing services.
Call 211 or visit Alberta 211 online to get connected to community supports in Calgary.
It is normal to feel anxious and worried and we encourage everyone to reach out to your networks for support, or to seek support from mental health services including:
- Alberta Health Services: Help in Tough Times
- Distress Centre: 403-266-4357
- Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-3030-2642
- Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
- Hope for Wellness: Mental health counselling and crisis intervention for Indigenous Peoples is available by calling the toll-free Help Line, 1-855-242-3310, or through the chat box at hopeforwellness.ca.
These are extraordinary and challenging times. Let’s all take care of ourselves and each other.