On May 7, 2022, the federal COVID income supports came to an end. Yet the pandemic is not over and much damage to workers’ health and finances has already been done. With the sixth wave of the virus continuing in Ontario, it’s obvious that workers still need support. But will Ontario’s emergency assistance be enough? More than ever, workers need our political representatives to support a decent work agenda! Keep reading to find out what remaining income supports are available and about how you can push for workers’ rights.
COVID Income Supports
These are the three federal income supports for workers that recently ended, though eligible workers can still apply:
- Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB): In regions recently affected by lockdowns, eligible workers can apply for open CWLB periods up to 60 days after the period has ended. In Ontario, all retroactive applications to the CWLB are closed.
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): If eligible, you can still apply for open CRSB periods up to 60 days after the period has ended. The last week of CRSB was May 1, 2022 to May 7, 2022 and is still open for application until July 6, 2022. Check online to find CRSB weeks you can still apply for.
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): If you’re eligible, you can apply for open CRSB periods for up to 60 days after they have ended. The last week of CRCB was May 1, 2022 to May 7, 2022, which will be open for application until July 6, 2022. Check online to find CRCB weeks you can still apply for.
If you need help figuring out if you’re eligible for any of these benefits or how to apply, please call the Workers’ Action Centre at 416-531-0778 (outside Toronto: 1-855-531-0778).
Ontario’s Emergency Assistance
If you are facing an emergency and live in Ontario, you may be able to apply for emergency assistance. Temporary financial support may be given to applicants who need help dealing with problems such as affording food or shelter. The amount given and for what length of time will depend on the situation and if you have children. One application is allowed for you and your immediate family. You are not eligible if you are getting assistance from Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.
You may qualify for emergency assistance in situations where you:
- have been affected by COVID-19
- are facing eviction
- are in or leaving an abusive relationship
- are concerned for your safety
- have emergency authorization to be in Canada for humanitarian reasons, such as Ukrainian migrants under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel pathway
You can apply online. Or, if you don’t have a Social Insurance Number, email address and phone number, contact your local Ontario Works office. Please contact the Workers’ Action Centre if you need support to apply or to find out if you are eligible.
An Urgent Agenda for Decent Work
Workers need emergency support because low wages and inadequate workplace protections have failed us for far too long. On May 3, the Workers’ Action Centre released an important new report, From the Frontlines: An urgent agenda for decent work. It shines a light on how precarious work allowed COVID to disproportionately impact non-white racialized, migrant and low-wage workers.
Filled with the voices of workers, this report provides an overview of the key issues workers face today, and lays out the labour law changes needed to ensure decent work for all. Workers’ Action Centre members, and the many workers who called our workers’ rights phone line over the course of the pandemic, shared with us how COVID highlighted the longstanding gender, racial and economic inequalities in our labour market, and also deepened those inequalities. Read and share the new report on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Insights from workers’ lived experiences led to these recommendations outlined in the report:
- Decent wages
- Decent hours
- Paid sick days
- Equal pay for equal work
- Laws that protect us all
- Real protections for temporary agency workers
- Make it easier to join a union
- Protection from unjust dismissal
- Make employers follow the law
- Status for all
- Ending racism, discrimination and workplace bullying
In From the Frontlines, Workers’ Action Centre members have offered a pathway to decent work for all – and our outreach activities are helping to pave the way! Our members and Justice for Workers supporters have had hundreds of conversations with workers at their doors, in the streets and on the phones to say why it’s urgent to vote for decent work champions on June 2nd. Join the movement and see how you can fight for workers’ rights today.