Facing layoffs during the COVID-19 crisis? Know your rights

posted on March 22, 2020

By CTV News

Many businesses are struggling to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic as people are told to self-isolate.

Hundreds of thousands of people have already been given layoff notices, leading to what’s being called a ‘historic” number of employment income applications across the country.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed at a press conference Friday that there have been half a million EI applications this week, a massive jump compared to the 27,000 applications received this time last year.

“I know people are anxious to get the help they deserve and our government is working as fast as possible to support them,” Trudeau said. “This is of course an unprecedented situation and it’s putting a lot of pressure on our system, but we’re on it.”

Employment lawyer Sara Forte said people should not wait if they are currently eligible for EI.

“You can imagine the system is going to get backlogged. So what I would say is, if you’re in that sort of first tier of people who already are eligible for EI based on the current criteria, get your applications in now,” she told CTV News.

Workers are eligible if they have had seven straight days of no work and no pay – also known as an interruption of earnings – and have worked at least 700 hours in the last 52 weeks, according to Forte Law.

Trudeau’s government introduced $27 billion in financial support for workers and businesses earlier this week.

Those unemployed workers who would not otherwise qualify for EI could get coverage under the new emergency support benefit.

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