Canadians who must quarantine after returning from travelling abroad can apply for the federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) to quarantine, even if their trip was non-essential, Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough’s press secretary, Marielle Hossack, told La Presse in an interview published Saturday.
The CRSB is meant to compensate employees for income they lose because they need to quarantine. The benefit is $500 per week for a maximum of two weeks. To qualify, applicants must be unable to work at least 50 per cent of their scheduled work week due to COVID-19-related self-isolation, residing in Canada and not receiving paid leave from their employers.
Though people travelling for non-essential reasons can apply for the benefit if they meet the requirements, Hossack told La Presse the government was still encouraging Canadians to stay put.
“The benefit was created for workers who need time to stay at home… But we were very clear from the start: we advise against any non-essential travel,” she told the outlet in French.
Anyone entering Canada must self-quarantine for two weeks, which checks off one application requirement. Starting Jan. 7, they will also need to test negative for COVID-19 before getting on a plane back to the country.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said offering the money to non-essential travellers was “absurd.”
“Offering financial compensation to people in forced quarantine might seem like a good idea,” Blanchet said in a French news release. “But, if someone is traveling because it is essential for their work, you would think they wouldn’t lose income and if someone is traveling for pleasure, they are already being advised not to travel.”
Conservative MP Alain Rayes tweeted that it was “incredible” that the government was offering non-essential travellers aid to quarantine while telling Canadians to stay home.
The information about the benefit comes as many politicians, including former Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips, Quebec Liberal member Pierre Arcand, and NDP MP Niki Ashton found themselves in hot water for taking non-essential trips during the pandemic.
HuffPost Canada reached out to Hossack and Qualtrough’s communications director for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
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