Revenu Québec urges essential workers to register early for benefits

Province anticipates 600,000 will apply for COVID-19 work loss compensation

Martin C. Barry

In view of the sheer number of workers displaced by COVID-19 who are expected to apply for government relief, Revenu Québec is asking candidates for an essential workers compensation program to start applying now before the lineup grows long and difficult to manage.

On April 3, the Quebec government announced a new financial assistance program, the Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW), for individuals working essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The assistance amount is meant to make up the difference between the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and an eligible worker’s wages.

How much does it pay?

Eligible workers can apply for benefits online beginning on May 19. The program provides $100 for each week of qualifying work beginning March 15, extending for a maximum of 16 weeks. This means that, in addition to their wages, workers can receive a taxable benefit of $400 per month, for a total of $1,600 for the full 16-week period. Payments are made every two weeks starting on May 27.

“If everyone makes their registration on May 19 at the same time, it will be hard for us to provide an adequate service for everyone,” says Revenu Québec spokesperson Martin Croteau. “To be honest, we are concerned there may be major waiting times if everyone turns up at the same time. So we are encouraging people to take the first step now.”

Eligibility conditions

To be eligible under the program, workers must work part-time or full-time in one of the essential service sectors during the program period; receive gross wages of $550 or less per week; have an annual employment income of at least $5,000 for 2020; have a total annual income of no more than $28,600 for 2020; be at least 15 years old when they apply for assistance under the IPREW; and have been resident in Quebec since last December 31, and plan to reside in Quebec throughout 2020.

As well, to receive assistance for a given week covered by the program, workers must not have received amounts under the federal CERB or the temporary aid for workers program for that same week. However, workers are eligible for the program even if their employer receives assistance through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Register to be eligible

According to Croteau, more than 600,000 full and part-time workers in the province will be eligible to receive assistance from the IPREW program. But first, he pointed out, they must register for an account on the Revenue Québec web site. Registration requires disclosure of the following information: social insurance number, date of birth, and at least one recent notice of income tax assessment over the past five years.

Some individuals who cannot provide a notice of assessment number will still be able to register for My Account by getting a temporary access code by text or automated call.

Avoid delays, do it now

To avoid an overload of calls to client services when the IPREW application period opens on May 19, Revenu Québec invites eligible workers to register for My Account and ensure that their direct deposit banking information is up to date right away. Doing this now will make the application process easier later. Eligible workers will receive their payments quickly. A first payment of up to $1,000 will be made on May 27. Individuals not registered for direct deposit will receive a single lump-sum payment by cheque once the program period ends in July.

Workers in the following essential services are eligible for the IPREW program:

Priority health services and social services
Institutions in the health and social services network, including 811 call centres
Pre-hospital emergency services, including the Corporation d’Urgences santé, first responders, ambulance service operators and healthcare communication centres
Private health consulting room or office, including dentists and optometrists (for emergency services only)
Intermediate resources and family-type resources
Private seniors’ residences
Individuals, enterprises and organizations providing services to the elderly, to the disabled and to the vulnerable, in particular as part of the direct allocation—service employment paycheque measure
Specialized resources offering accommodation for vulnerable groups and their relatives (domestic violence, vagrancy, cancer, addicts housed in community or private resources, palliative and end-of-life care, the underprivileged, immigrants, the elderly, the mentally ill, mother and child, prenatal and postnatal groups, young people in difficulty and their families, people with an intellectual or physical deficiency or an autism spectrum disorder, victims of crime)
Transplant Québec
Canadian Red Cross
Institut national de santé publique du Québec
Wholesalers and manufacturers of medication accredited by the Minister of Health and Social Services (including supply and distribution)
Medical and pharmaceutical laboratories and research centres
Enterprises manufacturing vaccines or by-products to produce vaccines
Suppliers, distributors and co-contractors in the health and social services network
Independent placement agencies in the field of health services and social services
Private IV clinics
Joint procurement groups
Public security services
Police departments and police forces, including emergency call dispatch centres (operated by a municipality or the Sûreté du Québec)
Fire services
Correctional services
Special constables
Highway controllers
Wildlife protection officers
Security agencies
Forest firefighters and all types of professionals providing support for civil security operations
Communication services
Enterprises involved in environmental emergencies
Government services and other priority activities
Childcare workers and support staff for emergency childcare services
Online higher education
Suppliers of goods and services for underprivileged citizens
Food inspection and food quality
Waste collection and residual materials management
Government air services
Suicide prevention centres
Assistance services for victims of domestic violence
Services deemed essential by municipal organizations (administration, public works, etc.)
Food banks
Veterinarian clinics and agronomists
Care for live animals kept in captivity: Production and distribution of medications, vaccines and medical equipment for veterinary medicine Laboratories and animal health research centres Inspection and monitoring of animal health and crops
Courts of justice and administrative tribunals, for matters they deem urgent
Martin C. Barry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for the Laval News,