The COVID-19 pandemic has gone on longer than many of us expected, or hoped. The toll on many of has been great as we were separated from loved ones, and possibly struggled with declining income or added pressures at work.

This page is your guide to the resources and information you need to navigate these times over the long haul - whether than means continuing to rely on government COVID relief programs, work from home, ease your way back into work or your workplace was never shut down.

This site is divided into several tabs to help you find the information you need:

  • Resources, where you will find resources for applying for government aid, webinars and more
  • Updates, where you will find press releases, statements, new resources, releases and more, listed in chronological order
  • Health & Safety, which includes the resources you need for safely returning to work and ensuring a safe workplace, including mental health supports
  • Local Resources, which contains resources for Local union leadership and Health & Safety reps as they work with employers on COVID-19 protocols in their workplaces
  • Sector Updates. Each industry has specific needs during the pandemic, and this tab is meant to provide sector-specific information
  • Regional Information. The further we get into the pandemic, the more regional differences are emerging in our responses. Find out what the situation is in your province or territory.

One thing we have learned since the pandemic began is that things are constantly changing as we learn more about the virus, so be sure to check back regularly to this page as we update the resources under each of the tabs.

If you have any questions that have not been answered on this page, feel free to reach out via the contact information to the right on your screen.

We all look forward to a stronger and healthier future. Until we get there, it is important that we all work to support one another. Be sure, as well, to check out Unifor’s campaigns for a stronger future, including:

Page Components

Resources

Image
Five health care workers on the job in full PPE raise their fists in solidarity.

Unifor has developed a number of documents and online tools to help address your needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, including how to apply for income supports, how to return to work safely, dealing with associated stresses and mental health issues, staying safe in your own home and more.

For information specifically on income supports during the pandemic, including Employment Insurance and special pandemic income programs, please see the Income Supports tab of this website.

As vaccines begin to roll out across the country, Unifor is also examining the legal and ethical issues surrounding the roll out – including your rights and making sure vaccines go first to those who need them most.​ Check out the Vaccines tab on this page for more information.

Be sure, as well, to check out the other tabs on this website for more information on resources for Locals, Health and Safety, Regional and sector-specific information.

As we address the on-the-ground needs or our members, Unifor is also campaigning to ensure governments and industry are doing their part to ensure a speedy and equitable recovery, including:

Keep checking back regularly. The documents throughout this page are updated regularly as programs change and new ones are announced.

Education Department webinars

Sign up for Unifor’s Education Department webinar sessions here http://onlineeducation.unifor.org/

Special Recovery Benefits

The federal government has set up several special programs

  • Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) gives income support ($500 each week, for a period up to 26 weeks) to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. Click here for more information.

  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) gives income support ($500 each week, for up to 2 weeks) to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they're sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. Click here for more information.

  • Canada Recovery Benefit

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support ($1000 every 2 weeks, for up to 26 weeks – or 13 eligible periods) to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. Click here for more information.

Women

Domestic violence and the workplace during the pandemic

Safe at home. Safe at work. End domestic violence. Shareable.

Public Health Canada is your most reliable source for medical information about COVID-19 prevention measures, symptoms, and preparedness plans. You will find a complete list of resources including updates on the government's responses on their website.

Vaccines

Image
Renaud Gagné wears a mask while receiving a vaccination from a health care worker in a mask and faceshield.

As vaccines begin to roll out across the country, Unifor is also examining the legal and ethical issues surrounding the roll out – including your rights and making sure vaccines go first to those who need them most.

The virus has hit Canadians disproportionately, exposing inequities across our society. We cannot stand by and allow the vaccine rollout to follow this dangerous precedent.

You can help build support for vaccines by adding a frame to you Facebook profile picture saying "I'm getting vaccinated." Just click here to update your profile photo.

On April 6, 2021, Unifor National President Jerry Dias sent letters to every provincial premier in Canada calling for time off for workers to be vaccinated, and for paid time off if they have COVID-19 symptoms, to help stop the spread of the virus. You can read the letters here:

Unifor will continue to post new materials as they are developed and to act on your behalf to ensure a smooth and equitable rollout. For now, please see these documents:

The federal government and each of the provinces and territories have developed vaccine roll out plans:

NEB Statement on Vaccine Certificates and Considerations to Guide the Re-Opening of Canada’s Economy

NEB Statement on Comprehensive Workplace Immunization Programs and Mandatory Vaccinations

Health & Safety

Your safe return to work is a top priority at Unifor. Your union is committed to ensuring safe workplaces for all it members, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added an entirely new level to this commitment.

This page is for COVID-19 related health and safety issues only, for other health and safety issues, please see our Health and Safety page here.

On this page you will find the information you need to return to work safely. Be sure to check back regularly for updated information and new documents.

Local leadership and health and safety reps are also encouraged to check out the Resources for Locals tab to help you fulfil your responsibilities.

Health & Safety resources

Image
A diagram showing proper handwashing technique for reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Local and Sector Tools

Unifor’s Locals are on the front lines as we work to ensure the safety of our members throughout this pandemic. This page is meant to help Local leadership and health and safety reps as they navigate this new and fast-changing environment.

On the page, you will find the resources you need to work with your employers to ensure safe working places for your members, as well as information specific to your sector.

As always, your National union is year to provide the supports you need. Your National Representative can help you access any additional resources you may need.

Be sure to check back regularly for new documents and updates, and the check out the Health and Safety tab on the website.

RESOURCES FOR LOCAL UNIONS

SECTOR RESOURCES

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on every workplace across this country – but the nature of that impact changes from sector to sector.

Below are resources you need to address specific needs in your sector.

AIR TRANSPORTATION UPDATES

AUTO AND IPS UPDATES

  • Auto and IPS COVID-19 Memo

ENERGY UPDATES

FORESTRY UPDATES

HEALTH CARE UPDATES

HOSPITALITY AND GAMING UPDATES

MANUFACTURING UPDATES

MEDIA UPDATES

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION UPDATES

RAIL UPDATES

  • RailLine COVID-19

RETAIL SECTOR UPDATES

TELECOMMUNICATIONS UPDATES

TRANSIT UPDATES

TRANSPORTATION

MINES, METALS AND MINERALS

WAREHOUSING AND LOGISTICS

Regional Information

As we move further into the COVID-19 pandemic, provinces, territories and regions across Canada have implemented their own pandemic response plans to address to local needs and to keep their resident safe.

This page is meant to help you find the information you need for your part of Canada, or to help you if you are considering a move to another part of Canada for work or to visit family.

REGIONAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR COVID-19

Income Supports

Unifor has developed a number of fact sheets to help workers navigate the many new federal government programs to help Canadian struggling during the pandemic. Below you will find fact sheets on how Employment Insurance and new income programs apply to workers in various circumstances, from full-time workers to gig and seasonal workers.

These programs are being updated regularly, and Unifor is monitoring all these changes to keep these fact sheets up to date, so check back regularly.

Unifor FAQs: Income Assistance, Wage Subsidies, and Other Benefits

Be sure also to check the Regional Information tab on this website for information related to your province or territory.

As well, on the Resources tab, you will find additional information about caregiver benefits, sickness benefits and the Canada Recovery Benefit.

News

Resources

EI Temporary Measures FAQ

August 27, 2021

On August 20, 2020, the federal government announced temporary changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program and EI-eligible workers filing jobless claims on or after September 27, 2020.

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion proclaimed these changes through Interim Orders Nos. 8 and 9 under the Employment Insurance Act on August 29, 2020.  On March 17, 2021, legislation introducing special temporary EI measures, Bill C-24, received Royal Assent.  Please read below the important information on these extensions by date of claimants claim.

For new claims September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021:

  • Maximum EI Regular benefit duration extended to 50 weeks in all regions.
  • Duration calculated at 13.1% unemployment rate (or higher, if applicable).
  • Minimum $500 weekly ($450 after taxes) and paid bi-weekly.
  • Workers receive benefits equivalent to 55% of normal earnings up to a maximum of $573 in 2020 and $595 in 2021.
  • Fixed 14 best weeks of earnings used for benefit calculation (not variable 14 to 22 weeks).
  • Waiver of one-week waiting period.
  • Separation payment allocation is suspended.
  • Qualifying in all regions is a universal 420 insured hours for EI Regular and EI Special Benefits.  
  • A special “Hours Credit” is given of 300 hours for regular EI Benefits and 480 hours for Special Benefits to lower the overall qualifying threshold to a universal 120 hours is given.
  • Normal 52-week period to accumulate hours extended for CERB claimants.
  • Medical certificate waived for sickness benefits.
  • Fishers’ earnings look-back extended.
  • Multiple job holders can use all insured accumulated hours provided last separation is valid and ROE is issued.

For claims between September 26, 2021 to September 25, 2022:

  • Duration of benefits is based upon worker’s accumulated hours and regional unemployment rate.
  • Benefit rate is 55% of normal earnings up to a maximum of $595 in 2021.
  • Separation payment allocation is suspended.
  • A minimum benefit rate of $300 applies to claims made between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021.
  • Qualifying in all regions is a universal 420 insured hours for both EI Regular Benefits and EI Special Benefits.
  • Multiple job holders can use all insured accumulated hours provided last separation is valid and ROE is issued.

For new claims after September 25, 2022:

  • All EI temporary measurers highlighted above revert back to pre-COVID EI Regulations & EI Act provisions (unless further extended or amended)
  • The EI premium freeze ends in December 2022
  • EI Sickness benefits increase to a 26-week maximum benefit duration from the current 15-week maximum in Summer of 2022

How do I apply for EI benefits?

Once I start receiving EI benefits, how do I continue to receive them?

  • All EI claimants must submit bi-weekly reports to Service Canada in order to demonstrate ongoing eligibility, as per traditional EI rules.

Will I have to serve an EI waiting period?

  • EI eligible workers who begin a claim between September 27, 2020 and October 25, 2020, or are transitioning to EI from CERB, will have their waiting period waived.
  • Every person who establishes an initial claim for EI benefits between January 31, 2021 and September 25, 2021 will have their one-week waiting period waived.
  • Claims submitted after September 25, 2021 will have a one-week waiting period apply.

Can I work while collecting EI regular benefits?

  • Workers may work and earn income while on an EI claim. However, weekly EI benefit payments for these individuals will adjust according to existing “Working While on Claim” rules under the EI program.Under these rules, EI benefit payments will reduce by 50₵ for every dollar earned up to 90 percent of your previous weekly earnings (roughly four and a half days of work). Above this cap, your EI benefits are deducted dollar-for-dollar.

Will my severance or vacation pay affect my EI benefits?

  • New, temporary EI measures will suspend the so-called “allocation of payment” provision for severance and vacation pay. In other words, workers who receive severance and vacation pay will not have those payments deducted from EI regular benefits.  This suspension will end and revert back to pre-COVID language as of September 25, 2022 unless a further extension happens or reform deems this measure permanent.

Are EI benefits taxed?

  • Federal, provincial and territorial taxes are deducted from EI benefit payments. This is unlike the CERB, which was taxed at the end of the year (i.e. paid back to the government at tax time) and not taxed on payment.  

What happens if I am ineligible for EI benefits?

  • The federal government established a new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)  that  provides $500 per week for up to 21 periods (42 weeks), to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support and who are available and looking for work. Note: Payment amounts change to $600 ($540 after taxes withheld) for each 2-week period if either: you have already applied for 21 periods or you are reapplying for your first period on or after period 22 (July 18 to 31, 2021).  You may re-apply up to a total of 27 eligibility periods (54 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and October 23, 2021.
  • This federal government support benefit supports workers whose income has dropped or who have not returned to work due to COVID-19. The benefit allows Canadians to earn more income while on claim as well as include links to Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service, with career planning tools for those seeking employment.
  • Workers who have exhausted their EI Regular benefits are encouraged to apply for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).  If approved, claimants have the ability to receive 54 weeks of combined benefits (CRB benefits less their EI Regular Benefit weeks utilized).
  • Canada Revenue Agency will administer the Canada Recovery Benefit. Information on how to apply is  available here.

What other temporary benefits has the government announced?

  • The federal government announced two additional recovery benefits: the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
  • The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit  will provide $500 per week, for up to 4 weeks, effective September 27, 2020 to October 23, 2021, for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19.
  • The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit , would be effective from September 27, 2020 to October 23, 2021,  and provide $500 per week, for up to 42 weeks per household to eligible Canadians. This benefit intends to assist individuals unable to work because they provide care to children or support to other dependents who had to stay home due to COVID-19.
  • Additional information and eligibility criteria for the Recovery Sickness Benefit and Recovery Caregiver Benefit is available online.

EI Temporary Measures FAQ

August 27, 2021

On August 20, 2020, the federal government announced temporary changes to Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) program and EI-eligible workers filing jobless claims on or after September 27, 2020.

The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion proclaimed these changes through Interim Orders Nos. 8 and 9 under the Employment Insurance Act on August 29, 2020.  On March 17, 2021, legislation introducing special temporary EI measures, Bill C-24, received Royal Assent.  Please read below the important information on these extensions by date of claimants claim.

For new claims September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021:

  • Maximum EI Regular benefit duration extended to 50 weeks in all regions.
  • Duration calculated at 13.1% unemployment rate (or higher, if applicable).
  • Minimum $500 weekly ($450 after taxes) and paid bi-weekly.
  • Workers receive benefits equivalent to 55% of normal earnings up to a maximum of $573 in 2020 and $595 in 2021.
  • Fixed 14 best weeks of earnings used for benefit calculation (not variable 14 to 22 weeks).
  • Waiver of one-week waiting period.
  • Separation payment allocation is suspended.
  • Qualifying in all regions is a universal 420 insured hours for EI Regular and EI Special Benefits.  
  • A special “Hours Credit” is given of 300 hours for regular EI Benefits and 480 hours for Special Benefits to lower the overall qualifying threshold to a universal 120 hours is given.
  • Normal 52-week period to accumulate hours extended for CERB claimants.
  • Medical certificate waived for sickness benefits.
  • Fishers’ earnings look-back extended.
  • Multiple job holders can use all insured accumulated hours provided last separation is valid and ROE is issued.

For claims between September 26, 2021 to September 25, 2022:

  • Duration of benefits is based upon worker’s accumulated hours and regional unemployment rate.
  • Benefit rate is 55% of normal earnings up to a maximum of $595 in 2021.
  • Separation payment allocation is suspended.
  • A minimum benefit rate of $300 applies to claims made between September 26, 2021 and November 20, 2021.
  • Qualifying in all regions is a universal 420 insured hours for both EI Regular Benefits and EI Special Benefits.
  • Multiple job holders can use all insured accumulated hours provided last separation is valid and ROE is issued.

For new claims after September 25, 2022:

  • All EI temporary measurers highlighted above revert back to pre-COVID EI Regulations & EI Act provisions (unless further extended or amended)
  • The EI premium freeze ends in December 2022
  • EI Sickness benefits increase to a 26-week maximum benefit duration from the current 15-week maximum in Summer of 2022

How do I apply for EI benefits?

Once I start receiving EI benefits, how do I continue to receive them?

  • All EI claimants must submit bi-weekly reports to Service Canada in order to demonstrate ongoing eligibility, as per traditional EI rules.

Will I have to serve an EI waiting period?

  • EI eligible workers who begin a claim between September 27, 2020 and October 25, 2020, or are transitioning to EI from CERB, will have their waiting period waived.
  • Every person who establishes an initial claim for EI benefits between January 31, 2021 and September 25, 2021 will have their one-week waiting period waived.
  • Claims submitted after September 25, 2021 will have a one-week waiting period apply.

Can I work while collecting EI regular benefits?

  • Workers may work and earn income while on an EI claim. However, weekly EI benefit payments for these individuals will adjust according to existing “Working While on Claim” rules under the EI program.Under these rules, EI benefit payments will reduce by 50₵ for every dollar earned up to 90 percent of your previous weekly earnings (roughly four and a half days of work). Above this cap, your EI benefits are deducted dollar-for-dollar.

Will my severance or vacation pay affect my EI benefits?

  • New, temporary EI measures will suspend the so-called “allocation of payment” provision for severance and vacation pay. In other words, workers who receive severance and vacation pay will not have those payments deducted from EI regular benefits.  This suspension will end and revert back to pre-COVID language as of September 25, 2022 unless a further extension happens or reform deems this measure permanent.

Are EI benefits taxed?

  • Federal, provincial and territorial taxes are deducted from EI benefit payments. This is unlike the CERB, which was taxed at the end of the year (i.e. paid back to the government at tax time) and not taxed on payment.  

What happens if I am ineligible for EI benefits?

  • The federal government established a new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)  that  provides $500 per week for up to 21 periods (42 weeks), to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support and who are available and looking for work. Note: Payment amounts change to $600 ($540 after taxes withheld) for each 2-week period if either: you have already applied for 21 periods or you are reapplying for your first period on or after period 22 (July 18 to 31, 2021).  You may re-apply up to a total of 27 eligibility periods (54 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and October 23, 2021.
  • This federal government support benefit supports workers whose income has dropped or who have not returned to work due to COVID-19. The benefit allows Canadians to earn more income while on claim as well as include links to Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service, with career planning tools for those seeking employment.
  • Workers who have exhausted their EI Regular benefits are encouraged to apply for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).  If approved, claimants have the ability to receive 54 weeks of combined benefits (CRB benefits less their EI Regular Benefit weeks utilized).
  • Canada Revenue Agency will administer the Canada Recovery Benefit. Information on how to apply is  available here.

What other temporary benefits has the government announced?

  • The federal government announced two additional recovery benefits: the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
  • The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit  will provide $500 per week, for up to 4 weeks, effective September 27, 2020 to October 23, 2021, for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19.
  • The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit , would be effective from September 27, 2020 to October 23, 2021,  and provide $500 per week, for up to 42 weeks per household to eligible Canadians. This benefit intends to assist individuals unable to work because they provide care to children or support to other dependents who had to stay home due to COVID-19.
  • Additional information and eligibility criteria for the Recovery Sickness Benefit and Recovery Caregiver Benefit is available online.