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Brittany asks: “With [COVID-19] taking a toll on mental health, are people allowed to go on EI for mental health issues during the pandemic?”
Workers with extreme mental stress can apply for the Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefit. Employment and Social Development Canada says, a claimant could only be eligible for sickness benefits if their condition made it so they were incapable of working.
“[If it] rendered them incapable of performing the duties of their employment or of other suitable employment,” said a representative of the agency.
The government has put in place temporary measures to facilitate access to EI during the pandemic, including a one-time EI eligibility requirement of as little as 120 insurable hours across Canada, with a minimum benefit rate of $500 per week. These changes are in effect until Sept. 25, 2021.
“The EI sickness benefit provides up to 15 weeks of income support to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, including the incapacity to work due to mental illness,” explained Employment and Social Development Canada. “Benefits are paid at an amount equal to 55% of the average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum weekly amount. In 2021, this maximum weekly amount is $595.”
The requirement to submit a medical certificate has been temporarily waived for EI sickness benefits until Sept. 25, 2021. Further information about the EI sickness benefits can be found on the federal government’s website