Are you one of the 500,000 Canadians who filed for EI last week? You have made the first step to keeping your head above the water following the initial impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The government has promised a stimulus package, but if you work in the hospitality industry – entertainment, hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism – it’s anyone’s best guess when you will be able to return to work. What should you do in the meantime? Here are some options you can pursue to put food on the table:

Apply for Employment Insurance as soon as possible after you stop working. Call 1-833-381-2725 to have the customary one-week waiting period waived and get your benefits sooner.

Apply for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits if you have been affected by COVID-19 (or another illness which has prevented you from continuing to work). You do NOT need a medical certificate if have been asked to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Apply as soon as possible.

File your taxes to receive short term benefits like a doubled Goods and Services Tax credit (worth between $400-$600) and increases in the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment of up to $300 per child.

In April 2020, you will be able to apply for the Emergency Care Benefit which will provide up to $900 every two weeks, for up to 15 weeks.

Legal action
After the initial shock of a layoff, it’s important for you to gather all the facts related to your particular situation so that you can determine your next steps. Ask yourself the following questions to get a better understanding of your employment status and will help you determine whether you are entitled to severance pay:

  1. Does my contract explicitly allow me to be temporarily laid off?
    NO = you are most likely owed a severance package by your employer.
  2. Has my company shut down due to the Coronavirus and its related shortage of work?
    YES = this is considered termination of employment, and you are likely owed a severance package by your employer.
  3. Did my employer lay me off because they thought I had COVID-19?
    YES = this is not legal. You should never be laid off due to health concerns.

If you are in any doubt about if your layoff was legal or not, consult a lawyer in your province. You can also have a lawyer look over your severance package to determine if you were paid according to how much you gave to the company. If your ex-employer has tried to low-ball you, you may sue for a better severance package.

Keep watching the news to see how the government will be implementing measures to put money into the pockets of the unemployed due to Coronavirus.

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