Slightly less than a quarter of a million Canadians applied for the Canada recovery benefit on the first day applications opened despite some experiencing technical difficulties.
The Canada Revenue Agency received over 240,640 applications for the new benefit on Monday, Janick Cormier, communications director for the national revenue minister, told CBC News.
The new benefit will pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks and is open to those who don’t don’t qualify for employment insurance (EI) because they never paid into it or don’t have enough hours.
It’s part of a suite of new benefits meant to replace the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) as the government seeks to transition people to an EI program with expanded eligibility or to one of the three new benefits.
Some people Monday morning reported experiencing technical glitches as they sought to apply for the financial assistance, although a CRA spokesperson told CBC News the technical issues were resolved just before 12:30 p.m. ET.
The Canada recovery benefit comes into effect as concerns rise about increasing job losses with Ontario and Quebec imposing targeted restrictions on restaurants, bars, fitness centres and other businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In a technical briefing delivered prior to applications opening, officials from Employment and Social Development Canada said they expect 890,000 workers to collect the Canada recovery benefit in the coming weeks and months.
The CERB, which is now discontinued, has paid out $81.64 billion to 8.9 million people, according to the government’s most recent figures.
New caregiver, sickness benefits
Another 107,153 people have applied for the new Canada recovery caregiving benefit (CRCB) and 58,659 applied for the Canada recovery sickness benefit (CRSB) since applications opened for both on Oct. 5, Cormier said.
The caregiver benefit applies to people who miss work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 due to school or daycare closures, or because the child or family members are required to quarantine because they have contracted the virus or may have been exposed.
It also applies to people forced to miss work to care for family members who need specialized care that is unavailable to them due to COVID-19.
The caregiver benefit will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers who are unable to work for at least 50 per cent of the week.
The federal government anticipates 700,000 Canadian households will apply for the caregiver benefit.
The government has also created a new sick-leave benefit that pays up to $1,000 over two weeks to people who can’t work because they contracted COVID-19 or must self-isolate because of the virus.
The multibillion-dollar suite of new benefits are taking effect following an acrimonious political battle in Parliament that ultimately saw all parties vote in favour of them but not before the airing of widespread concern that the Liberal government was rushing them through.