Tuesday,  January 26, 2021  11:26 pm

Ottawa moves to bar travelling Canadians from accessing benefit while in quarantine

Ottawa moves to bar travelling Canadians from accessing benefit while in quarantine
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough.
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), along with the other benefits, was “never intended to incentivize or encourage Canadians to disregard public health advice,” said the Government of Canada in a release issued on Jan. 11.

Ottawa is closing a loophole that has been letting Canadians claim payments from the CRSB while quarantining after travelling abroad.

Previously, Canadians taking holidays or travelling for non-essential reasons have been able to collect up to $1,000 in sick pay while in self-isolation after returning home.

The Liberal government, at the start of January, came under fire after it was revealed that some people were taking advantage of the benefit after holidaying at a time when Ottawa is strongly advising against all non-essential travel.

READ MORE: Ottawa to close sickness benefit loophole for quarantining travellers

Addressing media on Jan. 5, Trudeau clarified that the benefit "is not intended for travellers who are quarantining when they return from holiday."

"It's not there to pay for someone's post-vacation quarantine," Trudeau said. 

In a government release, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough added how the “the benefit was not intended to encourage Canadians to disobey public health and international travel guidelines.” 

"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,” said Minister Qualtrough.

As such, the Government of Canada is taking action to ensure all the CRSB, in addition to the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), do not encourage people to disregard public health advice against travelling abroad.

New legislation coming

Minister Qualtrough will be proposing legislation so that, retroactive to Jan. 3, 2021, all international travellers who need to quarantine upon return to Canada, including people returning from vacation, visiting loved ones, and attending to real estate matters abroad, will not be eligible to receive support from any of the Canada Recovery Benefits for the period of their mandatory quarantine.

Individuals who are exempt from the mandatory quarantine requirements under the Quarantine Act, such as health care workers who need to cross the border for work, will be eligible to apply following their return to the country.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) updated the application process for the three recovery benefits on Monday, Jan. 11.

For claims covering a period beginning on or after Jan. 3, 2021, applicants will need to indicate whether they were self-isolating or in quarantine due to international travel.

Over the coming weeks, the CRA will delay processing claims for individuals who are self-isolating or in quarantine because of international travel until the legislative process is complete to ensure those who receive the benefit meet the latest eligibility criteria.

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