Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Details and Eligibility
Last updated June 17, 2020: Please note that tax policies are changing rapidly. We are updating this article as details are made available.
On March 25, 2020, the Canadian government outlined the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
What Is It?
- The CERB is a $2,000 a month taxable benefit paid for up to 24 weeks for “workers” (defined below) who lose their income, but not necessarily their job, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Government has noted that the EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented volume of applications received. 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.
- A person must first meet the definition of a “worker” and then must require income support due to certain reasons related to COVID-19 (“eligible reasons”)
- The definition of a “worker” is a person who:
- Is at least 15 years of age;
- Is a resident of Canada; and
- In 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day they apply for the CERB has a total income of at least $5,000 from the following sources:
- Employment income;
- Self-employment income;
- Non-eligible dividends;
- Certain benefits paid under the Employment Insurance Act; and
- Allowances, money or other benefits paid under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the person of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption.
- The eligible reasons for a worker to qualify for the CERB include:
- The worker, whether employed or self-employed, ceases working (or expects to cease to work) for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment; and
- They do not receive, in respect of the consecutive days on which they have ceased working,
- subject to the regulations, income from employment or self-employment,
- benefits, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Employment Insurance Act,
- allowances, money or other benefits paid to the worker under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the worker of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption, or
- any other income that is prescribed by regulation (in the future).
April 15 Update – Expanded Eligibility
The government has expanded eligibility by:
- Allowing people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
- Extending the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Extending the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
June 16 Update – 8-week Extension and Attestation Form
- On June 16, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be extended by 8 weeks to 24 weeks (until October 3, 2020).
- For the new phase, CERB recipients will be required to sign an attestation, similar to requirements for employment insurance benefits, that they are actively looking for work and will take a job offer when their circumstances permit it. That attestation will be in place on July 5.
Who Does Not Qualify?
- Anyone who quits their employment voluntarily
- Non-residents of Canada
- Anyone under the age of 15
If You Are Already Receiving Regular EI and Sickness Benefits
Canadians who are already receiving regular EI and sickness benefits would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply for 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.
How to Apply
Read how to apply by visiting the CRA website here. We strongly recommend you sign up for direct deposit with the CRA.
The Government of Canada announced its COVID-19 economic response plan on March 18, 2020. The Government of Ontario’s action plan was announced on March 25, 2020. Since both programs were released there have been numerous changes, additions and updates. Tax policies are still changing rapidly. We are updating this general resource as details are made available. Still, we strongly recommend that you speak with your advisor about your unique situation before taking any action.
*Photo Credit: Thanks to Javon Swaby from Pexels