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Tax Alert

Updated federal COVID-19 supports for individuals


As the need for ongoing income support persists during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government continues to update the recovery benefits available to Canadians.

There are currently three federal recovery benefits available to provide financial support to individuals impacted by the pandemic:

  1. Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB)
  2. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
  3. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB)

The CWLB became effective on October 24, 2021 and replaces the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), which ended on October 23, 2021. Compared to the CRB, the CWLB is a more targeted form of income support as it is directed to aid those experiencing income disruptions resulting from ongoing government-imposed lockdowns.

For more details regarding the now concluded CRB program, read our Tax Alert – Federal Government Announces Changes to Recovery Benefits.

The CWLB provides a taxable benefit amount of $300 ($270 after taxes withheld) per week to qualifying employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work due to a COVID-19 lockdown. This benefit is only available when a COVID-19 lockdown is designated for the applicant's region. An individual may apply for the CWLB for any week between October 24, 2021 and May 7, 2022 for which their region is designated as eligible.

To determine whether a given region is eligible for a specified week, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has created an online search tool that summarizes which regions are designated COVID-19 lockdown regions in respect of each period of the CWLB.

A designated lockdown region is generally a region that is subject to a government-mandated order for the closure of non-essential commercial activities or services. However, for the period beginning December 19, 2021 and ending on March 12, 2022, a region that is under a public health order to restrict capacity by at least 50% will also qualify as a designated lockdown region for the purposes of the CWLB.

In addition to the requirement that the individual's region be a designated region for the period for which they are applying, the applicant must be experiencing one of the following situations due to the lockdown:

  • Job loss and unemployment
  • Unable to continue self-employed work
  • A 50% reduction in average weekly income as compared to the previous year

It is important to note that individuals who quit their jobs, voluntarily stopped working, or either turned down reasonable work or refused to return to work when asked by their employer (or failed to resume self-employment when possible) will not qualify for the CWLB. Individuals whose loss of income or employment is a result of their refusal to adhere to a vaccine mandate, or who are self-isolating or quarantining due to international travel (unless such travel was for a specifically exempt reason) will also not be eligible for this benefit.

Other eligibility criteria must also be met. Specifically, an individual must:

  • reside and be present in Canada;
  • be at least 15 years old on the first day of the period for which they apply for the benefit;
  • have a valid SIN;
  • have earned at least $5,000 of employment income, net self-employment income, maternity and parental benefits (from EI or QPIP), EI regular or special or fishing benefits, and/or amounts from other COVID-19 benefits (including Canada Emergency Response Benefit, CRB, CRCB, and/or CRSB) in 2020, or in the 12 months before the date of application;
  • have filed a 2020 tax return and will file a tax return for the year the CWLB is received. Individuals who received the CWLB in 2021 will be required to file their tax return by no later than December 31, 2022. Those who received the benefit starting in 2022 will be required to file both their 2021 and 2022 tax returns by December 31, 2023, and
  • not have received EI benefits, CRCB, CRSB, short-term disability benefits, or QPIP benefits in respect of the same period.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The CRSB provides a taxable benefit of $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) per week for up to six weeks. To be eligible for the CRSB, individuals must be unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19, have an underlying condition or other illness that would make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, or be required to self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.

This benefit became effective on September 27, 2020 and was initially legislated to end on September 25, 2021. Due to the ongoing pandemic, this benefit was extended multiple times and now is available until May 7, 2022.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The CRCB provides a taxable benefit of $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) per week, for up to 44 weeks per household. To be eligible for the CRCB, individuals must be unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they need to provide care to children under age 12, or support to other dependents, who must stay home because of COVID-19. This applies if the child's or other dependent's school, regular program, or facility is closed or otherwise unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they are sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19. Like the CRSB, the CRCB was initially available from September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021, however it was subsequently extended and is now available until May 7, 2022.

A detailed summary of the eligibility requirements for the CRSB and CRCB can be found in our Tax Alert – Federal Government Announces Changes to Recovery Benefits.

As Canadian workers continue to face challenges because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—including loss of income due to intermittent government-imposed lockdowns, requirements to self-isolate, and/or COVID-19 illness—the government has responded by making updates and extensions to income support programs. Contact your BDO advisor if you have any questions about the available federal COVID-19 recovery programs.

The information in this publication is current as of February 9, 2022.

This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be seen as broad guidance only. The publication cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information contained therein without obtaining specific professional advice. Please contact BDO Canada LLP to discuss these matters in the context of your particular circumstances. BDO Canada LLP, its partners, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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