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Feds simplify EI benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 9:36 am PDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at a press conference on COVID-19 at Rideau Cottage, his residence on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa, on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The Business Council of Canada says Trudeau could be doing more to help stop the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

EI benefits simplified for Canadians whose jobs have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

The government to provide $2,000 a month for those workers

Applications can take about 10 days, federal staff has been brought in from other departments to help process

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The federal government is repackaging two previously promised benefits for Canadians whose working lives have been disrupted by COVID-19.

The two benefits will be combined to provide 16 weeks of payments to workers whose income has dropped to zero because of the coronavirus pandemic. This includes those who have been furloughed, but still have their jobs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said nearly a million Canadians applied for Employment Insurance (EI) last week.

“Far too many Canadians are having these tough conversations about finances and their future,” he added.

The emergency fund will provide $2,000 a month for four months to workers who have lost their income because of the pandemic. This extends to people who are in quarantine, sick, and those taking care of someone who is sick or watching their kids.

“Help is on the way,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister said each application takes about 10 days to process after the portal launches.

Federal staff has been moved from other departments to help process claims, boosting the team by 13,000 people. Since last Monday, Trudeau said 143,000 EI claims have been processed.

Trudeau again stressed the importance of physical distancing and urged Canadians to stay inside.

“If you’re already following these rules, thank you for doing your part. If you aren’t, know that you’re making a dangerous choice. Ignoring these rules puts every single one of us, yourself included, at risk,” he said.

With files from Martin MacMahon and the Canadian Press