‘The extension of these programs will allow some breathing room for people to get back on their feet as we move through our restart plan’
British Columbia is extending federal employment insurance exemptions and the provincial temporary crisis supplement to help ensure people on income or disability assistance and low-income seniors will continue to have access to the supports they need during the pandemic.
“B.C.’s response to COVID-19 has been strong and swift, but we are not out of the woods yet,” said Shane Simpson, minister of social development and poverty reduction. “The extension of these programs will allow some breathing room for people to get back on their feet as we move through our restart plan.”
On April 2, 2020, the province announced a three-month exemption of all federal employment insurance benefits, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), for people already receiving income or disability assistance at that time.
This exemption was put in place to ensure current clients whose employment may have been impacted by COVID-19 did not face any additional barriers and could fully benefit from federal emergency response programs, said the government. The exemption also now includes the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, effective May 1, 2020.
The exemption has been extended for the duration of these federal emergency support programs so that eligible people will continue to fully benefit without any reductions to their monthly income or disability assistance payments, said the government.
The province is also extending its temporary COVID-19 Crisis Supplement for those who are not eligible for the federal benefits for an additional two months. This supplement will continue to be provided to low-income seniors receiving the B.C. Senior’s Supplement and income assistance and disability recipients residing in special care facilities.
The temporary $300 crisis supplement will continue to be automatically applied to cheques distributed July 22 and Aug 26, 2020.
“These interim measures are part of the B.C. government’s COVID-19 Action Plan to provide income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, business and services,” said the government.
In March, the province started looking into a new bill which aims to provide up to five days of paid leave for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program an eight-week extension to ensure Canadians have the help they need as they transition back to work.