CERB extension and EI changes now in effect

On August 20, 2020, the federal government announced that it would be extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) a further four weeks to a maximum of 28 weeks, and would be making temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (“EI”) regime. The Regulations and Interim Orders associated with these changes are now in force.


The new Regulations to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act increase the maximum number of weeks that an individual can receive income support under the CERB from 24 to 28 weeks. The CERB program, which was due to conclude at the end of August, will run until September 26, 2020.

Corresponding Regulations to the Canada Labour Code provide for an extension of the job-protected leave related to COVID-19 for employees in federally-regulated private sector workplaces. In alignment with the extension of the CERB, employees will continue to be entitled to take a job-protected leave until September 26, 2020, if they are unable or unavailable to work as a result of COVID-19.

Changes to EI

The federal government has introduced a variety of changes to the EI regime in order to assist Canadians in their transition from income support under the CERB to EI. We discussed these changes at length in a previous article.

The following changes are now in force:

  • Insurable hours credit of 300 hours for regular benefits (job loss) and 480 hours for special benefits (sickness, maternity/parental, compassionate care or family caregiver).
  • Extension of the qualification period by 28 weeks for employees who have received benefits under the CERB.
  • Waiver of the waiting period for EI claims submitted on or after September 27, 2020.
  • Use of a minimum EI unemployment rate of 13.1% across Canada to lower the hours required to qualify for regular EI benefits.
  • Presumption of a minimum of $727 in weekly insurable earnings, such that the minimum benefit entitlement will be $400 per week.

If you have questions regarding changes to entitlements under the CERB or EI, please contact Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

Note to our Readers: Information regarding COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. We are working to bring you up-to-date articles as the legal issues develop and to keep our previous posts updated. Given that the legal issues related to COVID-19 are constantly changing, if you are looking for legal advice or are dealing with an issue in relation to COVID-19, please contact your Harris lawyer or a member of our COVID-19 response team: Sari Wiens, Ilan BurkesNicole Toye or Jessica Fairbairn.

To read our most recent articles and other updates on COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Updates page.