Applying For EI Benefits, 5 Things You Should Know

Stressed out person applying for EI Benefits

Applying for EI benefits is often a stressful experience.  The process is not user friendly.  First, you have to go to the government website and look for the EI application.  Once you have found it, you then have the arduous process of going through it, which can take hours.  Also, calling the 1-800 number for help may take even more hours! (This is understandable right now, during the coronavirus crisis. The number of EI claims is shocking! At last count, there were 2.2 million new EI claims in Canada.)

 However, if you have lost your job and have no other money coming in, you need to apply for Employment Insurance.  So, what are some things that you need to know when you are applying for EI benefits?  Here are 5 things that you need to know:

Applying for EI Benefits: Apply Immediately (Even Without a Record of Employment)

Surprisingly, many do not apply for EI right away, thinking that they need to wait for their record of employment.  They might think that it’s pointless to apply without their ROE.  This is 100% wrong.  You should apply for EI benefits right after you finish your last day of work, period.  Why?  First, you only have 4 weeks from your last work day to apply.  If you do not, you could get less benefits than you are entitled to.

 Second, most records of employment are automatically sent to EI by your employer.  So even if you haven’t received one yet, it’s most likely that the government has it already.

Third, the government can make a temporary record of employment based on your application and set up your EI claim using that.  Once the actual record of employment comes in, your application can be recalculated. 

Applying for EI: More Details are Better

For some reason, many people don’t want to describe the reasons why they are no longer working.  Maybe it’s because they are shy or perhaps, they do not want to seem to complain about their situation.    However, it is extremely important to give full details on why you are no longer working, especially if you quit or were dismissed.  More is better!  Think about it this way: whoever is going to look at your application has no idea of the situation at all.  For them, it’s like looking at a blank canvas.  You need to create a detailed picture or painting.  The more details you can provide, the clearer the picture is.  This helps the benefits officer make a better decision on your application.

Applying for EI: Dismissal is Not Actually Bad

This is one of the biggest misconceptions about EI.  Most people think if you get dismissed or fired from your job that you automatically won’t get EI.  Employers will even tell employees that it’s better for you to quit than to get fired.  This is absolutely not true!  Why?  Because if your employer dismisses you, the onus is on the employer to prove misconduct on the part of the employee in order to deny their EI benefits.  A lot of EI adjudicators use the Black’s Dictionary of misconduct to define whether someone has done something that is willful and of evil intent. 

For example, if your employer dismissed you because you were not good at your job that is not misconduct.  Even if you were late for work, or were argumentative etc., the employer would have to show that they addressed the issue.  For example, were there warnings, conversations and the like?   Even, for things like accusing an employee of theft, the responsibility is on the employer to show or prove that this happened.  For example, were their witnesses?  Is there video?  Did they call the police and file a police report? 

Also, if an employee was paid severance by their employer, this shows that there wasn’t misconduct The thinking behind this is why would you pay additional money to someone who committed misconduct?  As you can see, with dismissal the pressure is on the employer to prove misconduct, which is not easy to do.

It’s a Lot Harder to Get EI Benefits if You Quit

Many people do not realize this, but it is really hard to get EI benefits if you quit.  Unfortunately, people think that it’s better than getting dismissed or fired.  This is false, because f you quit all the pressure is on you to prove that you had “just cause” in quitting.  What does this mean?  It means that you had no other choice.

For example, suppose you were being harassed at work by a co-worker.  You couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to quit.  However, for EI purposes you would have to exhaust your alternatives first.  Did you talk to a manager about the harassment?  Had you gone to your union about the harassment?  Did you go to Human Resources?  Did you go to Labour Standards or Human Rights?  If you did and there was still no real change in your situation then you would have a chance to get EI benefits. 

A tool that can help you if you are in this position of either thinking of quitting your job or you’ve already done so is the EI Digest.   This document lays out how different EI issues are looked at. It can give you some insight on what information you would need to provide on your EI application.

If Rejected, Appeal

It is always tough to get a rejection letter, but especially when it comes to EI benefits.  As a result, many people give up and move on.  However, in a lot of cases you should appeal the decision.  You might feel intimidated because when you appeal, it says there will be an appeal hearing with a 3-person tribunal (called a board of referees). You have the option to be present for it.  It is like going to court and who wants to go to court?  However, there is a step that’s not mentioned that might help you if you write an appeal letter on why you feel the decision made was incorrect.

Before an appeal goes to the board of referees, it goes to the appeal department.  This department is made of experienced adjudicators who will look at the application again. They see if the original decision made was correct. And they also decide if they could possibly allow the claim based on information the client has provided on the application and any new information in their appeal letter.

 The advantage of this is that you have a more experienced adjudicator looking at your EI claim with even more information.  This gives you a better chance at being approved.  Also, sometimes they might find another way for you to qualify for EI benefits. For example the information you provided might qualify you for sickness benefits, rather than regular Employment Insurance.  So, it doesn’t hurt to try to appeal a decision if you are rejected.

Conclusion

Applying for EI benefits is hard and can be emotionally draining.  However, if you keep the above points in mind, hopefully the process will be a bit easier   Applying for any government benefit seems intimidating but the more you know about a program, the easier it is to navigate through it.  Hopefully, this results in a favourable outcome for you.

Canada Mortgage Rates as of January 11, 2021

A picture of a toy house with keys to denote Canadians wanting to know Canada mortgage rates.

What are the Canada mortgage rates currently? Many want to know because many people find themselves reevaluating their living arrangements due to COVID-19. As a result, more and more Canadians are looking to purchase a house where they can have more space and more land so they can feel safer. It is a new right now. So what are the Canada mortgage rates right now?

Canada Mortgage Rates Currently at 3 of the Big Banks

Scotiabank

Variable Rate Mortgages

Posted Rate
Scotia Ultimate Variable Rate Mortgage-Closed 3 Year Term3.350%1
Scotia Flex Value Mortgage-Closed 5 Year Term2.650%2
Scotia Flex Value Mortgage-Open 5 Year Term5.750%3

Closed Term Fixed Rate Mortgages

TermRate
1 year3.090%
2 years3.190%
3 years3.790%
4 years4.090%
5 years4.790%
7 years5.390%
10 years5.890%

Short Term Fixed Rate Mortgages

TermRate
Open Mortgage – 6 month5.750%
Open Mortgage – 1 year5.750%
Flexible/Closed Mortgage – 6 month4.250%

Royal Bank

Popular Rates

TermSpecial OffersAPR
2 Year Fixed2.090%2.150%
5 Year Fixed2.170%2.200%
5 Year VariableRBC Prime Rate – 0.550% (1.900%)1.930%

TD Bank

TD Special Mortgage Rates

TermSpecial Rate3APR    4,   5
3 Year Fixed Closed72.14%2.18%
5 Year Fixed Closed71.94%1.96%
5 Year Fixed Closed
High-Ratio9
1.84%1.86%
5 Year Variable Closed61.70%1.72%

TD Mortgage Prime Rate is 2.60%

Conclusion

The rates above are just a sample of the rates currently available today. However, rates can change, so it is good to either look at a bank’s website or contact them directly for latest rates.

Home ownership in Canada is high when compared with other countries and this trend will continue. (Approximately 66% of Canadians own a property.) And despite (or perhaps even because of) Coronavirus, Canadians are still looking for homes. As a result, mortgage rate shopping has become more important. Please stay safe.

New Loans For Black Business Owners – Economic Relief From COVID-19

An open sign to denote the benefits of new loan program for black business owners.

New loans for black business owners was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday. The purpose of the loan program is to help black business owners and entrepreneurs by providing economic relief during COVID-19. The goal is to help these ones recovery and grow their businesses, and provide an economic boost. The government also feels that this is way to help curve systemic racism. So what are some of the details of the new program?

New Loans for Black Businesser Owners – Highlights

The $221-million program will receive about $93 million from the federal government over the next four years. It will receive $128 million from eight financial institutions. Here ‘s the actual breakdown from the Prime Minister’s website below:

The program will include:

-Up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund. This will support Black led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.

-Up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The Government of Canada is also partnering with financial institutions, including RBC, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD, Vancity, and Alterna Savings, to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support.

-Up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. This Hub will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. The Hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions.

When Will This Program be Implemented?

The Prime Minister did not announce when the new loan program for black business owners will be implemented. Also, there were no details about how one would specifically apply. And there were no details on the criteria needed to qualify for the loan. And there were no details about the interest rate, repayment etc. So we will have to wait for further announcements to get more clarification. But don’t worry, as soon as we have more details to share – share it we will!

In conclusion, for many black business owners struggling from the impact of the coronavirus, it is a nice announcement to think of additional funding options. However, they will need more details and action to benefit from this program. So we’ll wait and see for now, and update you as soon as we have more information. Stay safe everyone.

One Time Disability Payment Canada for Covid-19

A disability sign to denote that the one time disability payment is for ones with disabilities during covid-19

Last week parliament approved the one time disability payment to Canadians with disabilities. It was part of Bill C-20 that also had the changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program. The Canadian government says that about 1.7 million with disabilities should benefit from this program. So what are some details of this program? And how do Canadians who have disabilities apply to receive this one time payment?

One Time Disability Payment, How much?

The government of Canada’s website says that about 1.7 million Canadians can receive a one time payment of up to $600.00. Of note, this one time payment is non taxable and does not have to be reported anywhere. In a nutshell it is free money to spend as the recipients see fit. The government will move forward to start paying out on this once the bill receives Royal Assent.

How to Become Eligible to Receive the Payment?

The government of Canada’s website outlines three ways a person with disabilities can become eligible for the payment. Canadians with disabilities will have to fit in one of the three criteria the government has laid out. Here they are below:

  • They are holders of a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate (eligible persons not yet in possession of such a certificate would be able to apply for one up to 60 days after Royal Assent to be considered for the one-time payment).
  • Are currently receiving Canada Pension Plan disability benefits or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefits.
  • Or are in receipt of disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Conclusion

The government is hoping to help one of the most vulnerable groups to cope with the additional stresses due to COVID-19 with a non-taxable one time payment. This can be spent on whatever they need, and does not need to be tracked. During these uncertain financial times, any help that can be rendered is appreciated. Will it be enough to help Canadians during COVID-19? Only time will tell.

Canada Student Service Grant, What is it? How to Apply?

A classroom at a college to denote that Canada student Service grant is for students who cannot find a job.

The Canada Student Service Grant program (CSSG) was announced a few days ago to help students who could not find a summer job. Here are some of the programs details below:

  • Post-secondary students will be eligible to earn up to $5,000 this summer through a new volunteer service grant.
  • The grant is available for a range of volunteer work, including mask making, tutoring, researching animal behaviour and designing exercise programs for seniors.
  • The grant will be worth between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the number of hours completed. For every 100 hours worked, a student is eligible for $1,000, which means someone must volunteer 500 hours to receive the full grant. (This works out to receiving $10/hour of volunteer work this summer.)

Finally, the program runs until October 31, 2020.

Canada Student Service Grant, Who is Eligible?

Here are some of the qualifications needed, as outlined from a recent article:

  • Students and recent graduates between the ages of 15 years old and 30 years old can apply for the program.
  • To qualify, an individual must be enrolled part-time or full-time in a recognized post-secondary education program in the spring, summer or fall of 2020, or must have completed post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later.

Canada Student Services Grant, How to Apply?

To apply for this program, the government has launched an online platform for the program called “I Want To Help.” Once you go to this website, you can register as a volunteer. Also, you can search for organizations who are looking for volunteers in your area. This is what the website says below:

There are plenty of service opportunities available for students looking to get involved in their community to support Canada’s response to COVID-19. By volunteering with a local organization this summer, they can gain valuable experience and obtain the Canada Student Service Grant in recognition for their service. New opportunities will be added regularly.”

Conclusion

The Canada Student Services Grant is more opportunity to help students during this difficult time. However, the program is limited as only 10,000 new jobs will be created. Also, volunteer prospects could be limited due to lack of variety of volunteer opportunities. Hopefully, this will increase in time. However, this program gives students another option of economic help. And having options is a good thing, especially during these stressful times.

You might also like to read about the Canada Emergency Student Benefit Program.

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19?

A picture of people in airport to pose question is it safe to fly again during coronavirus covid 19

Is it safe to fly again during the coronavirus Covid-19? I was looking through my emails and saw an email from West Jet titled “Safety Above All”. I decided to click on it and the email highlighted all the measures they are taking to ensure safety for their customers during Covid-19.

Is it Safe To Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? West Jet’s safety Measures

Check-in – Their website states that their check-in will be similar as before. The change is that they will be wiping counters down with disinfectant between customers. There will also be more room between customers in line and the agents will be wearing masks. Also customers will be handling their own luggage. The website also highlights downloading their app to limit contact with surfaces during your journey.

Boarding – West Jet’s website states that Transport Canada requires everyone over the age of 2 years old to wear a face covering throughout your travel. The covering can be a non medical face mask or scarf. Regarding West Jet’s boarding policy here are the highlights of it below:

Boarding requirements policy

Health questionnaire

  • In compliance with Transport Canada regulations, to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we require all guests to respond to a heath questionnaire at the time of boarding.
  • We urge guests to respond truthfully as providing false or misleading information could result in a $5,000 fine under the Aeronautics Act.

Symptom screening

  • We will conduct non-contact temperature checks at all airports
  • If you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms, or feeling unwell, you cannot board a flight.
    • If you have a medical condition which presents symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, you will need a doctor’s note or medical certificate that states your medical condition to board the flight.

Denied boarding

  • If you have been ordered by provincial or territorial government or local public health to self-isolate or quarantine you will be denied boarding.
  • If you are denied boarding for a domestic flight, we will rebook you to travel at least 14 days after the original date.
    • To travel earlier, a valid medical certificate stating that you not affected by the COVID-19 virus is required.
  • Guests denied boarding for repatriation flights will not be re-accommodated.

During Flight – West Jet indicates they are limiting seating to ensure more space between passengers during flights. Their website also says that families who are travelling together can sit together. For flights over 90 minutes, there will be a bottle of water and a snack at your seat as you board the flight. Regarding flight attendants, they will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks suited to their roles. 

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? Cleaning Procedures

Cleaning – This is probably the area of most concern for travelers when flying and West Jet has a detailed procedure from their website below:

Upon Boarding

We’ll give you a sanitization wipe for your hands or any surface you wish to wipe down, for your peace of mind.

On board

We now clean our aircraft more extensively and more frequently. We continue to clean with aviation-approved products, including Sanicide (disinfectant) for galleys and lavatories, along with Celeste 8500 for:

  • tray tables
  • general seating areas
  • to ensure all guest contact surfaces are thoroughly disinfected

We’ve added two additional disinfecting products to our cleaning regime–hospital-grade Clorox Wipes and Spray for:

  • galleys
  • lavatories and door handles
  • tray tables
  • seat armrests and headrests
  • seatbelt buckles
  • PSU panel
  • Overhead-bin door latches

Fogging

The entire aircraft interior is completely disinfected using a hydrogen peroxide-based solution cleaner. Fogging allows us to thoroughly disinfect our aircraft at any time, with little disruption to our guests and operations. The new process takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and the product dissipates within 20 minutes. We’re working hard to ensure fogging can be expanded to every base we operate to as soon as possible. All WestJet 737 and Q400 aircraft are cleaned as part of their overnight cleaning and sanitization regimen. 

HEPA filters

All WestJet aircraft are equipped with an industry-leading air circulation system containing a HEPA filter, similar to what’s used in hospitals.

Not only do these filters introduce fresh air into the cabin every 2 to 3 minutes, but they also capture and filter 99.99% of all airborne particles so you can breathe a little easier.

Is it Safe To Fly Again During Coronavirus Covid-19? Conclusion

The safety measures West Jet has taken is extensive and it appears a great deal of of thought and research has gone into developing them. So is it safe to fly again during the Coronavirus pandemic? For me the answer is still no. Even though these procedures are in place, they have not been tested to ensure they keep everyone safe. In my mind to fly now would mean that I would be the Guinea pig to see if these procedures work or not. Some might say that it is worth the risk and that is their choice. In fact, I’m sure a lot of people will decide to give air travel a try again.

However, for my family the risk is too high. The reality is that we are in a once in a generation pandemic in which there is no cure or vaccine as of yet. And worldwide, COVID cases are still growing. Not only would I be concerned about the actual air travel, but also getting stuck somewhere else if a lockdown was called again.

Will I travel again? Of course! But until the world gets a handle on Covid-19 or there is a reliable vaccine, my travel will be limited. Stay safe!

**Update Regards to Seating as of July 1, 2020**

Both Air Canada And West Jet will be offering every seat for sale on their flights as of July 1, 2020. This will end their physical distancing measures on their flights. As a result many people who booked flights with the airlines are now demanding refunds as they felt misled to believe that there would be no one in the middle seat. Regarding if this step is safe, here’s a quote from a recent CTV article below:

While Transport Canada recommends physical distancing on flights to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s not law.

“On WestJet’s website, the airline states that they decided to end the blocking off of adjacent seats because they are following the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) guidance for global health and safety.

They say IATA’s guidelines support removing physical distancing because they are already providing other protections against the virus, such as HEPA filters to clean recirculated air, airflow being directed up instead of forward or backward, and “the physical barrier of seat backs.”

The IATA, Lukacs pointed out, is not a health organization, but an airline association, which he says is serving the financial interests of airlines.”

Is it Safe to Fly Again During Coronavirus, Updated Conclusion

To sum things up, Coronavirus is very contagious and unpredictable. However, the one thing we know is that physical distancing is a strong defense against the virus. Especially if you are inside a building or an enclosed area for any length of time. In my opinion, the airlines are playing Russian Roulette with solely focusing on short term financial gain at the cost of long term pain. It is a risky proposition because more people can become sick. Also, there is more chance to keep spreading the virus all over the country and beyond.

Think about, how did covid-19 get here? It got here from flights, so logically the first line of defense to slow the spread is to put strong safety measures on flights. Air Canada’s and West Jet’s decisions to allow seating in the middle seat does not do that at all. And that is why I will not be flying anytime soon. Stay safe.