Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
On March 25, 2020, the Government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses.
The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.
The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.
Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April.
EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for Employment Insurance HERE, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.
Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.
Set up your online CRA 'My Account' as soon as possible. Through this account, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on April 6th.
Who can apply
The CERB will be available to workers:
residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
who have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits;
who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.
The income of at least $5,000 may be from any or a combination of the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.
The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work and are not earning employment or self-employment income as a result of reasons related to COVID-19. If you have not stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.
Note: Once you apply, you can expect to get your payment in 3 business days if you have signed up for direct deposit, and approximately 10 business days if you haven’t signed up for direct deposit.
If your situation continues, you can re-apply for a payment for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods).
How to apply
Applications for the CERB will begin the week of Monday, April 6, 2020.
There are two ways to apply:
Online with CRA My Account
Over the phone with an automated phone service
Get ready now
Although you can't apply yet, you can get ready now to ensure your application will be as easy and quick as possible.
Determine the best day of the week to apply once the system is available
Whether you apply online or by phone, we want to provide the best service possible to everyone. To help manage this, we have set up specific days for you to apply. Please use the following guidelines:
Start to apply (ready April 6)
Online: Sign in to your CRA My Account
Instructions once you're in your CRA My Account
Go to COVID-19: Canada Emergency Response Benefit in the alert banner at the top of the page
Select the period you want to apply for
Declare that you qualify for the benefit
Confirm we have the right payment information
By phone: Call the automated toll-free line
Before you call
To verify your identity, you'll need
your social insurance number (SIN)
If you are calling the CRA on behalf of someone else, you must be an authorized representative
Telephone number - 1-800-959-2019
Select your language preference: English or French
Follow the prompts to enter your information, including:
confirmation of your postal code
the period you are applying for
Declare that you qualify for the benefit
The CRA will issue payments by direct deposit or cheque, based on the payment method we have on file for you.
Both of these services are available 21 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both services are closed from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. (Eastern time) for maintenance.
After you apply
If you are eligible for the CERB, you can expect $2,000 ($500 per week) for a 4-week period.
It is a single payment for a 4-week period.
If your situation continues, you can re-apply for a payment for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods)
Note: These benefits are taxable and you will need to report any payments received on next year's tax filing. An information slip will be made available for the 2020 tax year in My Account under Tax Information Slips (T4 and more).
Understand the payment periods
Each payment of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) covers a 4-week period, beginning March 15, 2020. When you apply, it is for a single payment for the 4-week period. If your situation continues, you can apply for an additional 4-week period, up to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods in total).
What are the payment methods
The CERB is paid by direct deposit or by cheque if your direct deposit information is not on file.
When to expect payment
If you are getting your payment by direct deposit, expect your payment within 3 business days from the day you submitted your application
If you are getting your payment by cheque, expect to get the cheque within 10 business days from the day you submitted your application.
Apply again every 4 weeks
You will need to apply and confirm your eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit every 4 weeks (to a maximum of 16 weeks) if your situation continues.
Expanded access to Canada Emergency Response Benefit
and support for essential workers
April 15, 2020 - the government is stepping up to better support those who need help but don't qualify for the CERB, and Canadians working in essential jobs who make less than they would if they received the benefit.
To help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the government will be changing the eligibility rules to:
Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed particular demands on low-income workers in certain sectors, including those on the front-line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, or providing essential retail services to Canadians.
In recognition that these essential workers’ salaries are often less or similar than what they would receive from the CERB, the government will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 a month.
Details as to the application and delivery of this measure will be released shortly following further work with provinces and territories.