A Note for the Lyft Canada Driver Community

A Note for the Lyft Canada Driver Community

We understand this is a challenging time, and new information is coming out every day. Last week, the federal government announced economic relief packages intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 and provide assistance to millions of working individuals and families across the country who are impacted by this unprecedented pandemic.

At Lyft Canada, we are proud to support these measures. The federal response contains emergency provisions and funding that directly impacts the Lyft community - our riders, our drivers, our staff and our loved ones.

Many cities and provinces across Canada have announced states of emergency, which limit movement and gatherings. Despite these restrictions, travel is allowed for essential activities such as medical visits, grocery and food pickup and delivery, and attending critical public safety jobs. In this time of uncertainty and isolation, we are heartened that our community has stepped up to ensure that the most vulnerable communities are able to continue to access these necessary services.

Here’s what we know about resources available to the Lyft community in the initial pieces of legislation signed into law federally, and in Ontario and British Columbia. 

Most drivers use the Lyft platform as supplemental income while working as full-time or part-time employees elsewhere. For those of you who fall into this category: 

  • You may be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). The federal government has waived the one-week waiting period for people to access funds.

  • The BC and Ontario governments have also made changes in legislation so you can take the required time off due to isolation or quarantining, being diagnosed with COVID-19, caring for a child due to school or child care closings, or having a local health care provider or public official recommend or order you to stop working, without losing your job.

For drivers who are self-employed, own their own business, or classify as independent contractors:

  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000/month, tax-free, for up to four months to workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new program applies to all these individuals, whether they qualify for EI or not.

  • Unlike EI, the application process will be through the CRA, which allows for the funds to be deposited directly into accounts once they are approved, as long as people have, or will, register for direct payment. 

  • Anyone reporting income of more than $5,000 in 2019 (or the last 12 months) will be able to apply. 

  • The federal government has said that the portal should be open by April 6 and be able to deliver money to people within 10 days of application. 

For all drivers in Ontario:

  • Ontario has shared its Action Plan, which you can learn more about here.

For all drivers in BC:

  • British Columbia unveiled its COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers that provides a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. This will be a one-time payment for residents who receive federal EI, or the new federal Emergency Response Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts. 

  • The workers can be EI-eligible and non-EI eligible, such as the self-employed. The benefit will be paid to BC residents, in addition to their federal income support. 

For all drivers in the Lyft Canada community: 

  • Lyft will provide funds to qualifying drivers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.

  • The amount will be determined by the driver’s previous activity on the Lyft platform. 

  • We’re extending this to drivers who submit documentation through April 10 and will evaluate the program at that time.

LyftUp Driver Task Force:

  • Drivers who would like to help neighbours get to grocery stores, workers to hospitals, and caretakers to their jobs can sign up for our LyftUp Driver Task Force (this is entirely optional and drivers are paid for these rides). 

  • Through the LyftUp Driver Task Force, Lyft will hear from drivers directly about on-the-ground needs in their communities, and offer drivers opportunities to help out. The Task Force will play a vital role connecting people with essential services and goods. 

We are expecting to secure bottles of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies, which we will be supplying at no cost to drivers, and we will continue to alert drivers when supplies are available in your area. 

If we are notified of riders or drivers testing positive for COVID-19, they will be temporarily suspended from using Lyft until they are medically cleared. In this event, we will also follow guidance from local health officials in Ontario and BC to identify other individuals who may have been impacted.

The entire team at Lyft will remain focused on upholding driver, passenger, and public safety. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will keep you updated as things change.