As part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the federal government has introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), replacing the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
The CERB will provide temporary income support to Canadians who have been affected by COVID-19 pandemic, including those who:
- have been terminated, laid off, or had work hours reduced to zero
- are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
- are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures
- are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19
What is the CERB?
- It is a taxable government payment of $2000 per month for up to 16 weeks, paid out every 4 weeks.
- Tax will not be withheld at the source. Recipients must include this income in their 2020 tax returns.
- It will be available to Canadians from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
- Those who are already receiving EI will continue to do so, and can apply for the CERB if EI benefits cease before October 3, 2020.
- Those receiving provincial or territorial aid can also apply for the CERB.
- Applications will be accepted until December 2, 2020.
- Benefit recipients must re-apply every four weeks.
Who is Eligible?
Canadian residents aged 15 or older who:
- are wage earners, contract workers, or self employed and would otherwise be ineligible for EI
- have earned at least $5,000 of total income in 2019 (or in the 12 months leading up to the application) from employment, self-employment and/or maternity and parental benefits under the EI program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec
- have or expect to earn less than $1,000 of income* for at least 14 consecutive days in the 4 week period of the initial application, and earn no more than $1,000 of income for subsequent benefit periods
Those who have voluntarily quit their jobs do not qualify.
*Income refers to employment income, self-employment income, unemployment benefits, or benefits under a provincial plan in respect of pregnancy or the care of a new-born of adopted children.