As COVID-19 changes the way that businesses operate, it also changes the way that the various government organizations are forced to quickly react to the changing landscape.
Service Canada has announced that it is changing its Employment Insurance program to better support anyone who is affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine.
The reality is that individuals who are asked to stay at home, or who are in self-quarantine cannot always complete their work from home. And many times, even if they are able to, being stricken with the virus may prevent them from doing so.
Employment Insurance provides up to 15 weeks of income replacement for various reasons. One of those reasons now includes quarantine.
According to Service Canada, they've placed the following changes into effect:
- The one week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so that they can be paid for the first week of their claim;
- They've established a new dedicated toll-free number to support inquiries.
- No medical certificate will be required to claim benefits due to a quarantine.
- People who cannot claim for EI benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their claim backdated to cover the delay.
The dedicated number to claim EI benefits due to quarantine is 1-833-381-2725.
For its part, the government of Saskatchewan announced amendments to its own employment act to protect employees who are forced into quarantine.
They've removed the requirement of thirteen weeks of employment prior to accessing sick leave and they've removed the provision that previously required a doctor's note or certificate.
A new unpaid public health emergency leave was also announced that would come into effect when the World Health Organization declares a health emergency and the province's chief medical health officer has issued an order that measures be taken to reduce the spread of disease.
Alternatively, the chief medical health officer can make the determination independently of the WHO if it is believed that there is sufficient risk of harm to the citizens of the province.
The amendments to the Act are retroactive to March 6, 2020.