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COVID-19 Update: Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Last updated: Mar. 28, 2021 

Originally posted March 25, 2020.

The following is archived material. Please refer to the federal government for more information.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is now closed.

  • The CRA is still accepting applications for Periods 5 to 7 retroactively.  Applications are accepted through CRA My Account or through the automated toll-free list at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.
  • Please refer to our updated blog post for details on the new recovery benefit programs announced by the Government of Canada.

The federal government started accepting applications for the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit on April 6, 2020.

This benefit replaced the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit announced previously by the government. The benefit is meant to support workers and help businesses keep their employees. We provide an overview of how this may impact your employees.

What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit that will provide $2,000 a month ($500 a week) for 28 weeks (up from 24 weeks) to workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.

This includes those for qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits and those who don’t, including self-employed individuals.

Who can apply?

According to the Department of Finance, the CERB would cover Canadians who have stopped working due to COVID-19. This includes Canadians who:

  • Have stopped or will stop working because of COVID-19
  • Are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19, or away from work to take care of others who are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19
  • Have had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day they make the application

NOTE: The employment and self-employment income includes tips declared as income, non-eligible dividends, honoraria (nominal amounts) paid to emergency service volunteers and royalties paid to artists.

If they are submitting their first claim:

  • Cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for at least 14 days in a row for the initial 4-week period in which they are applying

If they are submitting subsequent claims:

  • Cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire 4-week benefit period of their new claim

The CERB will include people who would not normally qualify for Employment Insurance including:

  • Wage earners
  • Contract workers
  • Self-employed individuals

How do workers apply?

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Service Canada are administrating the program.

To begin the application process, visit the Canada Emergency Response Benefit page online. You will be asked a few simple questions. The answers you provide will direct you to the service option that best fits your situation.

The federal government says applications will be verified against tax records to confirm income.

What do they need for the application?

Applicants will need to provide:

  • Personal contact information
  • Their social insurance number
  • And confirm they meet the eligibility requirements

How long will the benefit run?

The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until September 26. Canadians can apply no later than December 2, 2020.

Eligibility periods are fixed in 4-week periods. If your work continues to be impacted by COVID-19, you can re-apply for CERB for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 28 weeks (up from 24 weeks).

What are the eligibility periods?

4-week period cycle Period Dates
1 March 15, 2020 to April 11, 2020
2 April 12, 2020 to May 9, 2020
3 May 10, 2020 to June 6, 2020
4 June 7, 2020 to July 4, 2020
5 July 5, 2020 to August 1, 2020
6 August 2, 2020 to August 29, 2020

August 30, 2020 to September 26, 2020

When will they receive the benefit?

If applicants have signed up for direct deposit, they should receive the money within 3 business days. Otherwise they should receive money within 10 days of applying.

How does this work with Employment Insurance Benefits?

If your employees are already receiving Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, they will continue to receive EI benefits until the end of their benefit period.

What if their EI Benefits end before October 3, 2020?

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.

What happens when their CERB runs out?

To support Canadians who are transitioning from CERB and still need help, the government has announced temporary changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) program and introduced three new benefits.

When can Canadians apply for the CERB?

The government is staggering application to the CERB. The earliest Canadians can apply depends on what month they were born.

If you were born in the month of: Apply for CERB on:
Jan., Feb. or March Mondays
April, May or June Tuesdays
July, Aug. or Sept. Wednesdays
Oct., Nov. or Dec. Thursdays
Any month Fri., Sat. and Sundays

Disclaimer: The material above is provided for educational and informational purposes only.