PEI

Federal programs available for Islanders struggling during COVID-19

P.E.I.’s “circuit-breaker” measures came into effect Monday morning. The closures and restrictions on some businesses means some Islanders won't be working or will have their hours reduced for the next two weeks.

‘Suite of programs’ available, says Charlottetown MP

Before applying for federal programs Charlottetown MP Sean Casey says people should check and see if they are eligible for employment insurance. (Jesse Johnston/The Canadian Press)

P.E.I.'s "circuit-breaker" measures came into effect Monday morning. The closures and restrictions on some businesses means some Islanders won't be working or will have their hours reduced for the next two weeks.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey says there are federal programs workers impacted by the new restrictions can apply for.

"There is a suite of programs," Casey said. "The first question people need to ask themselves is 'am I eligible for employment insurance?'"

The rules have changed to make EI more accessible. People only need 120 hours to qualify, Casey said.

"If you are not eligible for EI there is the Canada Recovery Benefit that looks a lot like the old CERB," he said.

'When COVID first hit and both programs were in place there were cases where the provincial money had to be paid back in order to be eligible for the federal money,' says Casey. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

The CRB pays out $500 per week for up to 26 weeks. The benefit is open to those who don't qualify for EI because they never paid into it or don't have enough hours, Casey said.

"There are two other benefits. One for people who have to self-isolate. That's the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). Then there is the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) for those who have to care for those who are ill, dependent," Casey said.

If you're eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $450 a week for up to two weeks — but you'll need to apply again to access the second week.

If eligible for the CRCB, your household can receive $450 for each one-week period. If your situation goes past a week, you have to apply again, with a cap on the program at 26 weeks.

The easiest way to apply is through the CRA account online at the government of Canada website, Casey said.

Benefits are taxable

All of the ongoing regular payments of federal benefits are taxable Casey noted.

The provincial government also announced support for Islanders.

Casey said the provincial programs are "new" and he doesn't know how they may affect federal programs.

"I am aware that when COVID first hit and both programs were in place there were cases where the provincial money had to be paid back in order to be eligible for the federal money," he said.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning.

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