Resources for Canadians Laid Off due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Find out what you can do if you are laid off due to COVID-19.

What To Do If You Are Laid Off In Canada

November 19th, 2020

In Canada, more and more businesses are being forced to layoff employees because of COVID-19. As companies do their best to reduce their workforce to stay afloat, many employees are trying to figure out what comes next.

In Montreal, AirTransat has announced that it will lay off 70% of its workforce as the coronavirus has grounded the majority of their flights and led to a drastic decrease in demand for air travel. It’s a similar story for Cineplex, Canada’s largest movie theatre chain, which is laying off thousands of part-time workers due to the closure of their locations across the country.

Self employed? See our guide for self employed workers affected by Coronavirus.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit:

On March 25, 2020, the federal government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB will provide $2,000 per month to Canadians who are affected by COVID-19. This benefit is available to Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, are in quarantine, or must stay home from work to care for their children during the national school closure.

Read more about the CERB benefit.

What Provincial Governments are Doing:

British Columbia.

Workers in British Columbia who are eligible for the federal EI program and who have been laid off due to the coronavirus will receive a $1,000 cheque from the province. The one-time payment is being called the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers.

Learn more here.


  • Emergency benefit payments may be available for Albertans who are forced to self-isolate because of COVID-19. Details are forthcoming.
  • The Province of Alberta is going to make a one-time payment of $1,146 to every Albertian whose job has been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This will help to bridge the gap until federal funding becomes available.

Learn more here.


  • Any resident of Saskatchewan who does not qualify for EI but is forced to self-isolate due to recent travel can receive a payment of $450 weekly for two weeks.
  • All crown utility payments can be deferred.

Learn more here.


Ontario has made it easier for families in financial need due to COVID 19 to access emergency funds through social assistance.

Learn more here.

Nova Scotia.

Payments on all Nova Scotia student loans have been suspended for a period of six months.

Learn more here.

If you have been laid off as a result of the coronavirus, here are some steps that you can take as we all wait for this crisis to pass.

What to Do if You Have Been Laid Off:

1. Get all of the details about your layoff.

If you receive notice from your employer that you are being laid off, have a conversation to find out things like:

  • Is this layoff temporary or permanent?
  • Are you offering a severance package?
  • Are there any alternatives to a layoff? (Reduced hours, working from home, etc.)

2. Secure your Record of Employment (ROE).

In Canada, a record of employment (ROE) is a document that details the duration of your position at work. The ROE is generated by the employer, and this document is necessary for your employment application to be processed. If you need to apply for EI (see the next step), an ROE will be required to complete your file, so request this from your employer as soon as you can.

3. Apply for employment insurance (EI).

As a result of the coronavirus, the Government of Canada has made a number of changes to the federal employment insurance program. According to, the criteria for EI eligbiliity are as follows:

  • were employed in insurable employment;
  • lost your job through no fault of your own;
  • have been without work and without pay for at least seven consecutive days in the last 52 weeks;
  • have worked for the required number of insurable employment hours in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim, whichever is shorter;
  • are ready, willing and capable of working each day;
  • are actively looking for work (you must keep a written record of employers you contact, including when you contacted them).

Regular employment insurance entitles you to up to 55% of your average weekly earnings for a period of between 14 and 45 weeks.

You can apply for employment insurance benefits online.

4. Work on your resume.

If your layoff is permanent, it may be time to explore other work opportunities. Before you do that, however, you should brush up your resume. Add more details about your latest position and include any new skills/certifications that you have acquired. You can use our resume resources to help you with this.

5. Look for remote work opportunities.

It is too early to say how long the COVID-19 pandemic will last and what its long-term impact will be on Canadian businesses. What we know right now is that many of the businesses that are still able to function are doing so because they have a distributed workforce that can work from home.

If you do not qualify for employment insurance in Canada, this may be a good time to explore remote work opportunities using websites like WeWorkRemotely and Indeed.

For more guidance, see our article about What To Do If You Are Laid Off.

Resources for Laid-Off Workers in Canada:


What should you do when you get laid off in Canada?

For most people, the first step will be to apply for employment insurance. You can also take other steps such as getting your record of employment and working on your resume.

How does a layoff work in Canada?

In Canada, employers are allowed to lay off workers for non-performance based reasons when it is deemed necessary. A written notice must be provided to the employee.

How much notice does an employer have to give for a layoff?

No notice is required for a temporary layoff in Canada, although most employers do provide advanced written notice as a courtesy.

How long does a temporary layoff last in Canada?

The rules surrounding temporary layoffs may vary slightly by province, but generally speaking, temporary layoffs cannot last for more than 13 weeks.