Connect with us

News

Canada’s EI system absorbed almost 1.3M people in last 3 weeks, new figures show – Global News

Published

 on


The employment insurance system absorbed almost 1.3 million people in the last three weeks, new figures show, as a key COVID-19 benefit wound down.

A breakdown of applications for the simplified EI program shows that overall there had been more than 1.5 million claims as of late this past week, among them 1.15 million people who were automatically transferred when their emergency benefit ran out.

Read more:
Canadians who ran out of EI eligible for Canada Recovery Benefit, government confirms

The figures are enormous for a system that in one day this month handled 246,000-plus claims. In the spring, officials worried the 87,000 applications on one March day would make the decades-old system burst its seams.

Figures obtained by The Canadian Press also show that more than 84 per cent of applications had been processed, which experts who reviewed the numbers noted was a positive sign for the transition off the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, better known as the CERB.

Story continues below advertisement

Couple that with the more than 300,000 people who turned to a suite of new benefits on the first day they were available, and the figures provide a hint at the ongoing need for income support even as employment has picked up.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Federal government to transition those on CERB to Employment Insurance'



1:27
Coronavirus: Federal government to transition those on CERB to Employment Insurance


Coronavirus: Federal government to transition those on CERB to Employment Insurance

Figures on claims can be “valuable in providing a partial, real-time assessment” of the impact COVID-19 has on the labour force, officials wrote to Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in April.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

At the time, they were writing in a briefing note about providing regular updates on CERB recipients and payments as “the labour market landscape continues to evolve across the country.”

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the briefing note under the Access to Information Act.

The CERB ceased to exist on Oct. 3, although people can still retroactively apply for CERB payments until Dec. 2. The government expected up to four million people would use the revamped EI and three additional benefits for those not EI-eligible.

Story continues below advertisement

Up to 2.8 million people would need EI, based on internal projections from the department that oversees the program. About one million more would likely need the three new benefits.

Read more:
Coronavirus relief bill to replace CERB receives royal assent

On the first day it was available this past week, 240,640 people applied for the Canada Recovery Benefit. By that same Monday, a further 107,150 applied for a caregiving benefit and 58,560 applied for the new two-week sickness benefit, both of which had opened for applications the previous week.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives had estimated about 5,000 people would use the taxable sickness benefit. Its senior economist David Macdonald said the vastly higher number suggests some EI-eligible workers may have found it easier to apply for the sickness benefit.

“There will be plenty of honest confusion among people as to where they might apply next, and they might take the path of least resistance, which is going to be these (recovery) programs,” said Macdonald, who has closely tracked aid figures.

Mikal Skuterud, a professor and labour economist at the University of Waterloo, said there may also be people who are EI-eligible but apply for the CRB because of other differences in the programs, such as how quickly benefits are clawed back, how long they last, and how much tax is taken off at the source of payments.

Story continues below advertisement


Click to play video 'Justin Trudeau announces extended Employment Insurance benefits'



0:55
Justin Trudeau announces extended Employment Insurance benefits


Justin Trudeau announces extended Employment Insurance benefits

“There are some big issues there, but that’s kind of unfair to criticize the government because designing these kinds of income-support programs for self-employed people is a quagmire,” he said.

The first EI payments went out this week, with just over 84 per cent of applicants receiving benefits, a figure experts noted as positive.

The labour market has recouped about 2.3 million of the three million jobs lost when the pandemic first struck. A new round of restrictions amid rising COVID-19 case counts threatens some of those gains.

Given the unknown future path of COVID-19, Scotiabank senior economist Marc Desormeaux said the government will have to be very careful about when it winds down the pandemic benefits.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Concerns over possible labour shortage in food-processing industry

Story continues below advertisement

Ending programs too soon could lead to weak business results as fewer people have money to spend, leading to potential bankruptcies or closures, creating job losses and making employment weak anew.

“We want to try and recover more quickly to the extent that we can, because these things have a way of reinforcing themselves,” he said in an interview.

“At this point, we’re comfortable with these (benefits) being in place, just to provide that certainty and a cushion against potential second-wave impacts.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

Coronavirus: Canada tops 330K cases ahead of new COVID-19 restrictions – Global News

Published

 on


Regions across Canada braced for a host of new public health restrictions on Sunday as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sent case counts soaring from coast to coast.

Surging case counts that reached record heights in several provinces over the weekend spelled the short-term end to restaurant and retail service in some infection hot spots, while others prepared to further cap public and private gatherings in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

Across the country, health authorities identified a total of 4,792 new cases of the virus as well as 49 more deaths. The new infections, which now place Canada in its sixteenth day of daily-identified cases topping the 4,000 mark, bring the country’s total cases to 330,201.

Read more:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

Story continues below advertisement

A total of 11,455 people have also succumbed to the virus, while at least 261,201 patients have since recovered. Over 13.7 million tests have also been administered.

In Ontario, which reported 1,534 new cases and 14 additional deaths on Sunday, shoppers flocked to local stores in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region a day before both districts were slated to enter the lockdown phase of the provincial pandemic response plan.

Janet Reid visited Toronto’s Eaton Centre on Sunday afternoon to do some last-minute shopping in the hours before non-essential retailers close their doors to in-person visitors.


Click to play video 'Ski resorts seeing busy season start thanks to COVID-19'



2:27
Ski resorts seeing busy season start thanks to COVID-19


Ski resorts seeing busy season start thanks to COVID-19

She said she hoped the restrictions, which also include the closure of salons and the suspension of indoor dining at local restaurants, would help bring the COVID-19 numbers down.

“It’s going to take everybody to do it, and not just a few people to do it,” Reid said.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:
Coronavirus Christmas: Canadians should celebrate outdoors, virtually, experts say

Public health officials in Atlantic Canada have also announced new limits on gatherings as the region saw a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, marking a reversal from the stable figures reported for months.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Nova Scotia’s Hants County and the Halifax area will be under stricter rules as of Monday, including a limit of five people who can gather without social distancing, down from the previous cap of 10.

The province reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing its number of active diagnoses to 44.

“I know this will not be easy, but it’s an initial step to contain the community spread and avoid the potential to overwhelm our health-care system,” Dr Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said in a Friday statement outlining the new rules.

Story continues below advertisement

In Newfoundland and Labrador, which reported three new cases on Sunday, Memorial University announced plans to postpone staff members’ scheduled return to work, originally set for the coming week.

The small town of Deer Lake, N.L., also sounded the alarm over a regional spike in cases when it announced a two-week closure of some municipal buildings and asked local businesses to follow suit.

The slew of pending restrictions is in line with advice from Canada’s top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who on Sunday urged people to limit gatherings and only go out for essentials ahead of the holiday season.

Tam said Canada is seeing “rapid epidemic growth,” as the country has now recorded 330,492 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Alberta added to that tally with 1,584 new cases on Sunday, marking the fourth straight day the daily count has reached a record high.


Click to play video 'Ottawa opens new COVID-19 emergency rent subsidy for businesses'



2:32
Ottawa opens new COVID-19 emergency rent subsidy for businesses


Ottawa opens new COVID-19 emergency rent subsidy for businesses

Health officials in Nunavut reported 18 new cases on Sunday in Arviat, a small community on Hudson Bay that now has 98 active infections.

Story continues below advertisement

The territory, which went into a two-week lockdown on Nov. 18, currently has 128 active COVID-19 cases. No deaths have been reported.

“Health teams are working around the clock in Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet to trace, test, isolate and contain the spread of the virus,” Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 1,154 new COVID-19 cases and 23 additional deaths on Sunday, bringing the highest provincial total in the country to 132,042 cases and 6,829 deaths since the pandemic began.

Officials in New Brunswick reported six new COVID-19 cases and warned that three schools may have been exposed to the virus. The province set a single-day record on Saturday with 23 new cases.

Saskatchewan logged 236 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while Manitoba recorded 243 new instances of the virus and 12 related deaths.

Manitoba’s most recent round of stringent measures took effect Friday. The Hanover School Division, which includes Steinbach, about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg, will switch to remote learning only on Tuesday.

Worldwide, cases of the virus surpassed 58.5 million according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. A total of 1,386,454 have also succumbed to the virus, with the U.S., Brazil and India leading in both cases and deaths.

Story continues below advertisement

— With files from Global News and CP’s Anita Balakrishnan in Toronto, Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Sarah Smellie in St. John’s.


Click to play video 'Small businesses struggling to meet bottom line in COVID-19 pandemic'



2:00
Small businesses struggling to meet bottom line in COVID-19 pandemic


Small businesses struggling to meet bottom line in COVID-19 pandemic

© 2020 The Canadian Press

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday – CBC.ca

Published

 on


The latest:

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 hit record highs in the Prairie provinces over the weekend as Alberta on Sunday reported more new daily cases than hard-hit Ontario or Quebec.

The surge in the west came ahead of a decision by Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island to withdraw from the so-called Atlantic bubble for a period of two weeks.

Newfoundland and Labrador‘s premier said Monday that the decision to pull out of the Atlantic bubble is meant to stave off a second wave of COVID-19 and try to protect the upcoming holiday season.

Prince Edward Island also moved on Monday to suspend non-essential travel to and from the island for a two-week period.

The change comes after upticks in cases over the weekend. Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, it’s highest single day case number since May. New Brunswick reported six new cases on Sunday, after hitting a single-day record of 23 cases a day earlier.

In Alberta — which reported 1,584 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday — health officials also reported 319 hospitalizations, with 60 in intensive care. 

Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 236 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday after hitting a record high on Saturday. 

Premier Scott Moe, who has been facing pressure from some to step up restrictions, said Saturday that public health officials will “have more to say early next week.”

Health officials in that province on Sunday listed 99 people as hospitalized, with 19 in intensive care. 

Tracy Zambory, president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, said her organization has been calling for tighter measures.

“We cannot wait until we get to a higher number.”

In Manitoba, where health officials recently imposed strict restrictions to try and get a handle on rising case numbers, hospitalizations hit 288 on Sunday, with 52 in intensive care.

In an interview with CBC’s Rosemary Barton, Premier Brian Pallister defended his government’s response to COVID-19, which has been surging in Manitoba.

Pallister said the province has been focused on getting people to reduce their contacts, saying “that’s the key to getting in front of COVID and turning the curve.”

WATCH | Manitoba’s premier takes questions over his government’s handling of COVID-19:

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister insists his province’s restrictions are the most stringent in the country. 8:00


What’s happening across Canada

As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 330,503, with 54,999 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,455.

Nunavut remained an area of concern as health officials in the territory reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases reported to 130. 

“Health teams are working around the clock in Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet to trace, test, isolate and contain the spread of the virus,” Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a statement on Sunday.

The Northwest Territories, meanwhile, had no new cases over the weekend. 

In Yukon, health officials reported three more cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, saying two of the cases were linked to previously identified cases and one was linked to out-of-province travel.

Health officials in British Columbia don’t release updated COVID-19 figures over the weekend. The province reported 516 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the number of active cases to 7,122.

Lockdown begins in Toronto, Peel Region

In Central Canada, millions of residents in the Greater Toronto Area are now living under tight new restrictions as Toronto and Peel Region move into a lockdown period set to last at least 28 days. Non-essential stores in those regions will be closed to shoppers, and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery.

Ontario reported 1,534 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 14 new deaths associated with the virus. The province also said 484 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 147 in intensive care.

In Quebec, health officials reported 1,154 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths. Data from the province put the number of hospitalizations at 642, with 103 in intensive care.

The province, which has seen the most cases of any jurisdiction in Canada, has reported more than 132,000 cases and 6,829 deaths.


What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10 a.m. ET

As of early Monday morning, there were more than 58.7 million COVID-19 cases worldwide, with more than 37.5 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a case tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

AstraZeneca says that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

The results reported Monday are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late stage results for its potential COVID-19 vaccine as public health officials around the world anxiously wait for vaccines that will end the pandemic that has killed almost 1.4 million people.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.

Linda Flowers directs cars during a pre-Thanksgiving food handout sponsored by her for members of the community in Fort Washington, Md. Flowers, a survivor of COVID-19, holds a community food handout each Friday to honour her late father, Bishop James N. Flowers, who passed away from COVID-19 in April. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci said he’s worried that crowding at airports from Thanksgiving travel could lead to a perilous situation as COVID-19 cases surge.

The U.S. infectious disease expert told Face the Nation on Sunday that the “people at airports” despite federal guidance to avoid travel “are going to get us into even more trouble than we’re in right now.”

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said it screened 1.047 million passengers on Sunday, the highest number since mid-March.

The number of U.S. air travellers is still about 60 per cent lower than the same date last year, but Sunday was the second time in three days that the number of passengers screened topped one million.

Health officials in Washington state said the number of people who were hospitalized to receive treatment for the coronavirus has reached a record high.

In Nevada, meanwhile, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans to tighten restrictions on casinos, restaurants and private gatherings such as Thanksgiving dinner in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

In Europe, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says a national COVID-19 vaccination plan will be launched in January.

A waiter stands at the entrance of a bar in Barcelona on Monday after Spain’s Catalonia region allowed bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas to reopen, gradually easing some of the restrictions put in place to tackle COVID-19. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)

Sanchez said the vaccine will be administered at 13,000 locations across Spain and “a very substantial part of the population” can be vaccinated in the first half of next year. Further details are expected on Tuesday.

Hungary’s foreign minister on Monday said the country is moving forward with testing on a Russian coronavirus vaccine after being the first in Europe to receive samples of the drug last week. Russia’s vaccine candidate, known as Sputnik V, has not completed advanced clinical trials and has not yet been assessed by the European Medicines Agency, the European Union’s medicines regulator. The vaccine has already been administered in Russia to healthcare workers and other high-risk groups.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan will again close all educational institutions as of Thursday because of a steady and increasingly drastic increase in coronavirus cases.

Schools were opened in September as Pakistan appeared to have achieved a sustained flattening of the curve.

Daily cases had dropped to less than 300 a day, but few people wear masks and social distancing is mostly non-existent in the country of 220 million.

Pakistan recorded 2,756 new cases in the last 24 hours, one of the sharpest spikes since the outbreak began in March. The country has 376,929 confirmed cases, and 7,696 people have died from the virus.

Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed half a million as the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation scrambles to procure vaccines to help it win the fight against the pandemic.

Gravediggers move a coffin during a funeral at a cemetery in Bogor, Indonesia, on Sunday. (Aditya Aji/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has announced a partial two-week lockdown to clamp down on the coronavirus’s spread as new cases have rapidly increased.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday that the West Bank will be under a full lockdown over the weekends, and a curfew will be imposed from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. on weekdays. All non-essential businesses will be closed during the periods of lockdown.

South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 767,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 21,000 deaths.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

News

Workplace compensation claims reflect toll COVID-19 has taken on Canada's workers – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Jeffrey Freedman is a COVID-19 “long-hauler” — one of many Canadians left with lingering health issues after getting sick from the virus. He says he now regrets going into work during the early days of the pandemic after falling ill in early April.

Freedman worked at a tile company supplying Toronto’s busy residential construction industry, which was deemed an essential service and remained open as other businesses were ordered to shut. He says he felt he had no choice but to report to work, despite risks of infection.

“I was in a bind. But because we needed the money and my feelings about my customers, I kept going and going and going and working my eight hours a day.”

CBC News reached out to provincial workers’ compensation boards across the country and found that more than 26,000 claims have been filed by people who contracted COVID-19 at work. Freedman is one of more than 20,000 people whose claims have been approved.

Thousands file claims across Canada

Statistics on workplace compensation claims are the first concrete indication of how many people are getting COVID-19 at work in Canada, but it’s an incomplete picture.

There is no standard accounting of how many people have fallen sick while at work due to a patchwork of provincial and federal tracking.

What’s more, the system does not capture COVID-19 cases among workers who are ineligible or simply don’t submit claims.

Freedman developed COVID-19 symptoms in April and went to the hospital, where he was told he was a presumptive case and had to go home and isolate. A few days later, he was struggling to breathe and was rushed to hospital by paramedics. He spent 44 days there, most of them on a ventilator as he fought off the infection.

“I have brain fog. I have permanent damage to my vocal cords from the ICU and tubing for 33 days. I have constant neck and bicep pains,” he said.

Freedman, now 65, said instead of enjoying his retirement and his dreams of travel, he’ll never be able to drive again and still struggles to get through each day.

“I have a major, major pressure wound on my butt from being in the ICU that is recovered to the point where I can at least sit, but I cannot sleep properly except more than 10 minutes at a time. And I’m very weak and tired, usually by 3 o’clock every day.”

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) accepted Freedman’s claim and has since helped him and his wife, Lori, by replacing Freedman’s lost wages and helping to retrofit their bathroom to accommodate his injuries.

WATCH | What it’s like to be a COVID ‘long-hauler’:

Jeffrey Freedman got the coronavirus in March and still suffers from lingering health problems after being hospitalized for six weeks. 9:22

Claims by front-line workers rejected

In Ontario and British Columbia, the data shows that most claims have come from workers in health-care facilities and agriculture. However, a quarter of workers in Ontario are not covered at all by the workers’ compensation system, compared with B.C., where all workers have coverage.

Ontario workers not covered include a large number in such industries as privately run care homes, social assistance services and the tech and banking sectors.

Staff wear protective gear as they take orders at a restaurant in Montreal in July. There is no standard accounting in Canada of how many people have fallen sick from COVID-19 while at work due to a patchwork of provincial and federal tracking. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

“It really highlights the absurdity of having a compensation system that just cuts out whole swaths of industries and says you’re not entitled to coverage, and it’s very difficult to track those people down because when they go to the hospital, their claim doesn’t get billed through a WSIB number,” said David Newberry, a community legal worker at the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic in Toronto. 

About 1,425 claims have been disallowed in Ontario as of Nov. 13, including hundreds in front-line industries such as health care.

Newberry said the disallowed claims — along with the fact that the WSIB pays only 85 per cent of a worker’s full salary — don’t fit with declarations that these workers are “heroes” keeping the economy running during a pandemic.

“While companies are spending millions of dollars putting up billboards and bus ads thanking our front-line workers to be heroes — when people are actually getting sick within these workplaces, whether stocking our shelves or looking after our grandparents — what they’re getting is … a 15 per cent pay cut.”

Jennifer Collins worked as a nurse at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont, the site of a major outbreak that killed 29 residents in the spring. She said she didn’t have adequate access to personal protective equipment and got sick with COVID-19 in March, leaving her with lingering health problems.

Collins was not hospitalized, and she said a lack of medical records chronicling her illness hurt her claim for workers’ compensation.

Security guards and a heath-care worker wait for patients at the COVID-19 testing centre at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto in June. About 1,425 workers’ compensation claims have been disallowed in Ontario as of Nov. 13, including hundreds in front-line industries such as health care. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

“I got a phone call from [WSIB], and they said that they realized with COVID that it was a special case,” she said, “but because they didn’t have any medical data or documentation to back up what I was telling them that I wasn’t eligible.”

Collins said she still suffers from exhaustion and can only walk about two blocks before her hips act up. “Everyday I try to push myself more, but it is difficult, and it’s frustrating,” she said.

After being turned down, Collins instead applied for the Canada emergency response benefit and was approved.

Even with approval, fight isn’t always over

In Ontario, the WSIB has disallowed 302 claims from workers in nursing and residential care facilities.

Ultimately, many people getting sick at work are those who don’t have the option of working from home. Newberry, of the injured workers legal clinic, said these workers may not even know they can access workers’ compensation — in particular new Canadians who may not be familiar with the language or workplace laws.

David Newberry, a community legal worker at the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic in Toronto, says disallowed claims — along with the fact that the WSIB pays only 85 per cent of a worker’s full salary — don’t fit with declarations that these workers are ‘heroes’ keeping the economy running during a pandemic. (CBC)

“Those who are most vulnerable are the ones who are generally least likely to know that these things are available,” he said.

But even for those whose claims are approved, the fight isn’t always over.

Jeffrey Freedman received notice on Friday that his employer is appealing his workers’ compensation claim, insisting that it took all necessary precautions and there’s no proof he got COVID-19 at work.

As workers’ compensation claim costs rise, so too do the premiums that employers have to pay. Newberry said that the system gives employers an incentive to appeal approved claims.

“Workers’ compensation systems in Canada are set up in a model that is similar to private insurance,” he said.

“Even if … the injured worker is successful in proving their claim is valid, that process can take years, and it can be really stressful.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending