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May 2, 2003

Government of Canada provides income relief to SARS affected health care workers

    OTTAWA, ON, May 2 /CNW/ - The Honourable Jane Stewart, Minister of Human
Resources Development Canada (HRDC), today announced that $2 million will be
available to help workers who deliver or help deliver health-related services,
who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI), but who suffered a loss of
employment income because of being quarantined, isolated or contracting SARS.
    Weekly payments will be $400 per week for full-time workers, and $200 per
week for part-time workers. A full-time worker is defined as a person who
works the number of hours, days or shifts normally worked in a calendar week
by a full-time worker in the same or similar occupation, and at the same or
similar premises. A part-time worker is defined as a person who does not work
full-time as described above. Eligible recipients will be able to receive a
maximum of $6,000 for a maximum period of 15 weeks. The program is retroactive
to March 30, 2003.
    "Since the outbreak of SARS, the Government of Canada has responded
quickly by taking comprehensive measures to help bring the situation under
control," said Minister Stewart. "This has included waiving the EI waiting
period and removing the requirement for a medical certificate for those
workers who were quarantined or who contracted SARS."
    Eligible participants will include workers whose usual place of
employment is in a recognized health care setting (e.g., hospitals, medical
offices, medical laboratories, or emergency services such as paramedics). They
also include individuals in non-medical employment in a recognized health care
setting (e.g., cleaning staff, cafeteria workers). This could also include
self-employed workers.
    Eligible participants will have suffered a loss of employment income due
to having contracted SARS or having been in isolation or under quarantine
because they may have been exposed to SARS during their work, or were
prevented from working because of an outbreak of SARS at their workplace. They
also would not have qualified for EI benefits.
    To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate a loss of income not covered
by paid sick leave or some other form of compensation arising from employment.
People who were unable to work because they had contracted SARS must provide a
medical certificate or other documentation signed by a recognized medical
practitioner attesting that they had the disease and the period of time for
which it applies. People who were unable to work because they were under
quarantine, in isolation or prevented from working due to an outbreak of SARS
in their workplace must provide a declaration attesting that: the period of
quarantine was imposed by a public health officer, or the period of quarantine
was recommended by a public health official for the general health and safety
of the public, and the recipient was asked by the employer, a medical doctor,
a nurse or another similar person in authority to place themselves under
quarantine. People who were in isolation or prevented from working due to an
outbreak of SARS in their workplace must provide a declaration from the
employer to that effect. Applicants must also provide documentation from the
employer establishing that the employment is recognized to be in a health care
setting and their full-time or part-time status.
    HRDC will administer this special relief program through the Department's
existing service delivery network. Details of the program may be obtained by
calling the SARS special relief line at 1 800 263-8364, option 3.