With several high-profile Canadians having been caught travelling abroad during the holidays, the federal government is making changes to the current COVID-19 benefits.
For those who don’t qualify for employment insurance, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) were intended to provide assistance to those who must quarantine due to a positive case of COVID-19 and those taking care of a someone who has tested positive for the virus.
However, the federal government has become concerned Canadians now view these benefits as an incentive to travel abroad—when travellers have to quarantine upon returning, they can simply apply for the CRSB.
As a result, Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, has proposed legislation that would prohibit international travellers—including those returning from vacation, visiting loved ones, and attending to real estate matters abroad—from receiving the any of the Canada Recovery Benefits while they quarantine upon returning to Canada.
This legislation will be retroactive to January 3, 2021, and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) updated the application process for the three recovery benefits on Monday (January 11).
Additionally, the Government of Canada continues to strongly urge all Canadians to avoid non-essential travel.
“The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit was created to provide workers with a paid sick leave option. We did this so that workers did not have to choose between going to work while impacted by COVID-19 and putting food on the table. The benefit was not intended to encourage Canadians to disobey public health and international travel guidelines. We have heard Canadians and are tightening the eligibility criteria for our COVID recovery benefits,” Qualtrough said in a news release.
“We will ensure that these measures have no unintended consequences and will target individuals who travel for discretionary and non-essential purposes. This is not the time to travel abroad, and if you make the choice to do so, you will not be eligible for these benefits during your mandatory quarantine period,” she continued.