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.