Recently, the federal government announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Akwesasronon may be wondering what CERB is, if they would qualify for it and how to apply.

The CERB provides financial relief to individuals who have stopped working for issues related to COVID-19. It is a temporary income support and provides a flat benefit of $2,000 per four week period, to a maximum of 16 weeks. This is intended for workers who have been out of work for 14 consecutive days in any four-week period. It is available from March 15, 2020-October 3, 2020. If you already applied for Employment Insurance (EI), you do NOT need to apply for this new benefit. Please note that if you file taxes, you WILL have to claim the CERB on your 2020 Tax Return as income.

If you stopped working due to COVID-19. Including:

  • If you were terminated or laid off;
  • Are sick, quarantined, in self-isolation, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
  • Are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children due to illness or school/daycare closures;
    It also applies if you are a wage earner, including contract workers and self-employed individuals regardless of eligibility for EI.

To qualify for CERB benefits, individuals that apply must: 1. Be a resident of Canada. 2. Be 15 years or older. 3. Have had a total income of at least $5,000 (combined) in 2019 or, in the 12 months immediately preceding the application.

The total income can be from the following sources:

  • Employment income
  • Self-employment income; and
  • Maternity or parental leave benefits.

Additionally, to be eligible for CERB, a worker MUST receive NO INCOME for 14 consecutive days in a 4-week period, for which they apply for benefits.

This means no income from:

  • Employment or self-employment;
  • Employment Insurance;
  • Any allowances/money/benefits in respect of pregnancy or parental leave, including adoption; or
  • Any other income prescribed by regulation, no regulations have been passed to date.

It is recommended that individuals apply for EI and not not to wait for the CERB application process to come online. Applying for EI may better assist workers, particularly those who expect to continue receiving EI benefits after the initial 16-week period has expired. However, if a worker is not eligible for EI, the only option available to them is to directly apply to the CERB application.

To apply, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal beginning in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or through a toll-free number. At this time, specific details aren’t released.

It is anticipated that the application process will begin during the week of April 6, 2020. It is anticipated that applications will be processed within 10 days from when an application form is submitted. Applications CAN be back-dated to March 15, 2020.

Please be advised that at this time, the application process is not finalized and may be subject to change.