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I don’t qualify for EI. What government benefits are available for me?


The federal government has established three new benefits for workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI):

  1. Canada Recovery Benefit
  2. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
  3. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

These benefits are administered by the Canada Revenue Agency.

Common elements of the programs

To qualify for any of the programs, an individual must have earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the application date. Individuals must not qualify for any other benefits. Lastly, these benefits do not renew automatically. Individuals must apply for every period they seek benefits.

These programs came into effect on September 27, 2020 and will be available for one year.

1. Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The Canada Recovery Benefit is intended for employed or self-employed individuals, including gig economy workers, directly affected by the pandemic, but who do not qualify for EI.

The CRB provides $500 per week, for up to 26 weeks. Benefits are paid for two-week periods called the “eligibility period”. Individuals may apply retroactively for any eligibility period within 60 days of that period’s end date.

For the eligibility period, an individual must either: (a) not be employed or self-employed for reasons related to COVID-19; or (b) have had a 50% reduction in their average weekly income compared to the previous year due to COVID-19.

Furthermore, during the eligibility period, individuals must look for work; must not quit their job or reduce their hours voluntarily unless it is reasonable to do so; and must not turn down reasonable work.

Lastly, it is important to note the CRB’s repayment obligation. If an individual has more than $38,000 income for 2020 or 2021, they will have to pay back 50 cents of CRB benefit for each dollar of earnings.

You will find more information on the CRB here.

2. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit is meant for individuals who have to care for a child under the age of 12 or a family member who needs supervised care. This may occur because of school or facility closures or because the child or family member is sick, self-isolating or at risk of serious health complications due to the pandemic. An individual must be unable to work at least 50% of their scheduled work week.

This benefit provides $500 per week, for a period of up to 26 weeks per household.

To qualify, an individual must be the only person in their household applying for the benefit for a given week and must not be receiving paid leave from their employer.

You will find more information on the CRCB here.

3. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides income support to individuals who are unable to work at least 50% of their scheduled work week because they are self-isolating. An individual may need to self-isolate because they have contracted COVID-19, they have been required to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or they have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

This benefit provides $500 per week, up to a maximum of two weeks. Proof of illness is not required. To be eligible, the worker must not have been granted paid leave or been paid under a sickness benefit plan in respect of the week.

You will find more information about the CRSB here.


If you have questions about government benefits, please contact Clio Godkewitsch.

Special thanks to Goldblatt Partners’ former articling student, Sara Ageorlo, for her assistance drafting this blog post.