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COVID-19 UPDATE: Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

COVID-19 UPDATE: Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

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 EI 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.

This information was obtained from


Persons who are 15 years of age and older, who earned in 2019 or in the twelve months prior to applying, an income that is at least $5,000.00 and originates from

• Employment

• Self- employment

• Parental leave benefits


  • Shareholders who are employed are not excluded; regardless of the percentage of shares held.
Conditions THE PERSON:

• Must have ceased working or performing work on their behalf as a result of COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days during the 4-week period for which the person is claiming the benefit.

• Must not receive income from any of the following:

• Employment

• Work performed on their behalf

• Parental leave benefit

• Other sources of income, to which should be specified.

Important: A worker who voluntarily leaves his/her job, is not considered have stopped working. 

Amounts For the period allocating of March 15th to October 3rd 2020, the benefit amount will be $2,000.00 for a duration of 4 months. It will last for a maximum period of 16 weeks, whilst the amount could be adjusted for deemed reasons.

The benefit amount received is taxable.

Benefit request  The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be accessible through an intermediary of a secure web portal accessible at the beginning of April 2020. To process a request, an automated telephone line and toll-free number will be set up for all applicants.
Recovery of funds  Any misrepresentation could be recovered by the Government of Canada.
Other items  Any person who already receives regular, sickness, or employment insurance benefits will continue to receive these amounts and will not be not have to apply for the CERB benefit.

Any person receiving employment insurance benefits expecting to end before October 3rd 2020, will be able to apply for CERB once their employment insurance benefits end and if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.

The Emergency Care Allowance Program and Emergency Support Allowance Program are abolished.

Shared employment   Benefits for workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of the new circumstances, independently of the employers’ wishes, by expanding the admissibility of work sharing agreement at 76 weeks.
Medical and employment insurance benefits There will be an elimination of the one-week period for new benefit requests whom encountered the COVID-19 and are quarantined, in order for their emergency benefit that week.

There will be an introduction of a new toll-free telephone number for information requests:1- 8383-381-2725.

The processing of individuals will prioritize employment insurance claims from quarantined persons.

No medical certificate has to be provided for quarantined persons who apply for CERB.

If you have any questions, please contact LCA CPA LLP, the author of this post.

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