UPDATE: Benefits Summary
The IATSE is encouraged by the Federal Government’s recent spending initiative announcements aimed at assisting all workers to deal with the financial hardships associated with the COVID-19 crisis. A summary of available benefits is listed below. Some of these benefits were announced so recently that there is not yet instruction from government or links on how/where to apply. We are in the process of seeking further clarity with respect to the eligibility requirements for the various income replacement supports identified by the Federal Government. In the interim, we will continue our Federal and Provincial government lobbying efforts with a view to ensuring no class of entertainment worker is denied some form of income replacement support.
EI Sickness Benefits
Employees who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or are engaging in a public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine may apply for Employment Insurance sickness benefits. Employees applying for EI sickness benefits must have:
- experienced a decrease in gross earnings of more than 40% for at least one week;
- accumulated 600 insurable work hours in the 52 weeks prior to the start of a claim; and
- been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus or are engaging in a public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine
EI sickness benefits provide an employee with up to 55% of their gross earnings, up to a maximum of $573 per week for up to a maximum of 15 weeks. The Federal Government recently announced that it will be waiving the otherwise mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for those employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or those who are engaging public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine. The Federal Government has also indicated that claimants will be eligible for EI sickness benefits without the usual requirement of a doctor’s note or other medical certificate.
Employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are engaging in a public health authority directed self-isolation and/or quarantine should file a claim for EI sickness benefits immediately. Any delay in filing a claim could give rise to a denial or reduction of EI sickness benefits.
For more information on EI sickness benefits, including eligibility requirements, please visit:
The Federal Government has also set up a new dedicated toll-free phone number for employees who are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period:
Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
EI Regular Benefits
Provided employees have the requisite number of insurable work hours in the qualifying period, employees who are otherwise healthy and capable of working may apply for Employment Insurance regular benefits arising from a loss of employment due to COVID-19.
The qualifying period is the shorter of the 52 week period prior to the start of any benefit claim or the period from the start of a previous benefit claim to the start of your new benefit claim if the employee applied for benefits earlier and the application was approved in the last 52 weeks. Generally speaking, employees will need between 420 and 700 hours of insurable employment based on the unemployment rate in the employee’s area during the qualifying period to be eligible for EI regular benefits.
EI regular benefits provide an employee with up to 55% of their gross earnings, up to a maximum of $573 per week. The length of any EI regular benefit entitlement varies from region to region, depending on the unemployment levels in the region where the employee works. Currently, the Federal Government has NOT waived the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI regular benefits for those employees who have been laid-off as a result of a COVID-19 slow-down.
For more information on EI regular benefits, including eligibility requirements, please visit:
Emergency Care Benefit
The Federal Government recently announced the creation of an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks, administered through CRA for those workers who don’t otherwise qualify for EI sickness benefits and/or EI regular benefits.
The Federal Government has indicated the Emergency Care Benefit will be available to the following class of workers:
- 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 quality for EI sickness benefits; and
- 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.
Based on these initial eligibility requirements indicated by the Federal Government, the new Emergency Care Benefit appears to be available to freelancers and loan-outs and other IATSE members, like part-time employees, who would otherwise not be eligible for EI sickness benefits and/or EI regular benefits.
For more information on the Emergency Care Benefit, please visit:
Emergency Support Benefit
The Federal Government also just announced the creation of an Emergency Support Benefit for Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID-19’s impact. The Emergency Support Benefit will be delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. Details of the benefit amounts payable to individuals and eligibility requirements for this benefit have yet to be articulated by the Federal Government. When further details become available, we will provide them.