Who can get the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB)?Updated January 20

The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) has been available in Ontario since December 19, 2021. To get the benefit you must work in a lockdown region. The Government of Canada has a list of current lockdown regions.

Based on what happens with COVID-19, there may be changes to the CWLB. Check the government website for the latest updates and news.

The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) is for workers who can't work or who are making a lot less money during the COVID-19 pandemic because the government orders:

  • a lockdown, or
  • capacity limits that require businesses and services to lower the number of people allowed inside by half or more.

The CWLB has been available in Ontario since December 19, 2021.

What it means to be in lockdown

You can get the CWLB if:

  • your region is in lockdown because of COVID-19, and
  • the Government of Canada declares that your region is a lockdown region.

A lockdown means that the government:

  • orders businesses and services that are not essential to close, or
  • makes a stay-at-home order. This means that you must stay at home except to look after your basic needs like grocery shopping or going to important medical appointments. You can also leave home for safety reasons, for example, if there's a fire or you're experiencing domestic violence.

There must also be penalties, such as fines, for people who don't follow the rules.

The lockdown order must come from a part of the government that has the power to make decisions about public health. For example, this could be the government of Ontario, a local public health unit, a municipality, or a band council.

Even when there's a lockdown, you still can't get the CWLB unless the Government of Canada says the region you work in is a lockdown region. This will happen only if:

  • the government thinks it's in the “public interest”, and
  • the lockdown will last for at least 7 days in a row.

Ontario has been a lockdown region since December 19, 2021.

What it means to have capacity limits

There are special rules if you're applying because you lost work between December 19, 2021, and February 12, 2022.

During that time, you can also get the CWLB if the province orders capacity limits of 50% or more for the business or service that you work for or own. This means that the business or service must lower the number of people that can be inside by half or more.

And, you can't get the CWLB until the Government of Canada declares the region where you work a lockdown region.

To see what the capacity limits are for your workplace, check the government of Ontario's COVID-19 rules for businesses and services.

Who qualifies

The CWLB is meant for workers who don't qualify for Employment Insurance (EI).

Most gig workers and self-employed people can get the CWLB if their region is in lockdown, or if their workplace must lower the number of people allowed inside by half or more. And, because of those government orders:

  • they've lost their job, or
  • they're making a lot less money.

To qualify, all of the following must apply to you:

  • you're 15 or older
  • you have a valid (SIN)
  • you live in Canada
  • you filed your taxes for 2020
  • you earned $5,000 or more in 2020 or 2021, or the 12 months before you apply for the CWLB

The $5,000 can include money from the Canada Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), and EI benefits.

Who does not qualify

You won't qualify for the CWLB if you can't work because you:

  • are not vaccinated, or
  • are in quarantine or isolation after returning from a trip outside Canada.

But there are 2 situations where you can travel outside Canada and still qualify for the CWLB:

  • you travelled to get treatment that a medical professional agreed was necessary, or
  • you don't normally have to quarantine when you travel outside Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you must this time. For example, this might apply to a truck driver or a medical professional.

Limits on when you can apply

You can't apply for the CWLB for a week in which you're getting other COVID-19 benefits, EI benefits, or short-term benefits. For example, while you're getting the CWLB, you can't also get regular EI benefits, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, or the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

You must also be available to work. This means that you need to:

  • go back to work when it's reasonable to do this, or
  • accept another reasonable offer of work.

For example, this might mean:

  • agreeing to come back to work when your employer asks you to after you’ve been on a temporary lay-off,
  • reopening your business when the government ends the lockdown or capacity limits, or
  • getting a new job.

But sometimes it might not be reasonable to go back to work, for example, if you have a weakened immune system that puts you at extra risk of COVID-19. Or, you have to stay at home to care for a family member because of COVID-19.

If you quit or ask to work less

It's very hard to get the CWLB if you quit your job or ask to work fewer hours. If you're self-employed, it's also very hard to get the CWLB if you decide to work less.

Usually, you can get it only if one of the following things happens because of the lockdown:

  • your employer lays you off
  • your employer fires you
  • you can't continue doing your work if you're self-employed
  • your hours are reduced

You can get the CWLB and still be working. But you must be earning 50% or less than your average weekly earnings over the past 12 months or in the years 2020 or 2021.

How much you can get

You can get $300 a week, which is $270 after taxes.

There's no limit on the number of weeks you can get the CWLB. But each week that you apply for must be a week in which you're working in a lockdown region.

The benefit is available until at least May 7, 2022. But the government might extend the program if the COVID-19 situation does not improve.

How to apply

You can apply online or by phone at 1-800-959-8281 or TTY: 1-800-665-0354. To apply, you must wait until the Monday after the week you missed work.

And, you must apply within 60 days of missing work. For example, if you missed work the week of December 19, 2021, the last day you can apply for the CWLB is February 16, 2022.

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