Technical glitches mar first day of applications for Canada Recovery Benefit

Canadians seeking to access new financial support after missing work because of COVID-19 appeared to run into technical glitches as applications opened for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) on Monday.

The new benefit from the federal government comes into effect as concerns rise about increasing job losses with Ontario and Quebec imposing targeted restrictions on restaurants, bars and fitness centres to slow the spread of COVID-19 caused by the coronavirus.

Applications for the new benefit, which will pay $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, can be made through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The benefit is open to those who don’t qualify for EI because they never paid into it or don’t have enough hours.

On Monday morning, some people were reporting having trouble applying through the Government of Canada website.

According to screenshots posted to social media, numerous people got an error message saying: “You cannot apply for the Canada Recovery Benefit as you have applied for all eligible periods.”

Another error message told applicants they do not qualify for support payments.

CBC News reached out to the CRA about the issues. A spokesperson provided this statement just after 11 a.m. ET: “The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is currently experiencing technical issues with applications for Recovery Benefits. We are urgently working to restore this service as quickly as possible. The CRA regrets the impact this may have on applicants, and we appreciate their patience.”

A similar message appeared on the CRB web page for a short time Monday morning, but as of 11:30 a.m. it had been removed. 

Other financial supports

Applications also opened last week for a new caregiver benefit, after numerous calls since the start of the pandemic for added support for parents and others who are forced to miss work to care for a dependent due to COVID-19.

Women have seen a disproportionate impact on their careers and earnings because of the pandemic because they have largely shouldered the burden of child care and home schooling.

The caregiver benefit applies to people who miss work because of school or daycare closures, and whose children who miss school or daycare because they have contracted the virus or may have been exposed.

It also applies to people forced to miss work to care for family members who need specialized care that is unavailable to them due to COVID-19.

The federal government anticipates 700,000 Canadians will apply for the caregiver benefit.

The government has also created a new sick-leave benefit that pays up to $1,000 over two weeks to people who can’t work because they contracted COVID-19 or must self-isolate because of the virus.

The multibillion-dollar suite of new benefits are taking effect following an acrimonious political battle in Parliament that ultimately saw all parties vote in favour of them but not before the airing of widespread concern that the Liberal government was rushing them through.

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