The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a new temporary measure to assist individuals facing a loss of work. The Benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. You can apply no later than December 2, 2020 for payments retroactive to within that period. Eligible applicants can receive a taxable benefit of $2,000 every four weeks for up to 28 weeks and is intended to support workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19 (NOTE – maximum eligibility was originally set at 16 weeks, however, in June this was previously extended for 8 additional weeks, and then on August 20, the program was further extended for an additional four week period up to September 26, 2020).
Who is Eligible for the CERB?
To be eligible to receive the CERB you must:
- Reside in Canada, and be at least 15 years old;
- Have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or be eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted your Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
- Have had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
- Have not quit your job voluntarily.
The Canada Revenue Agency has also indicated that the receipt of non-eligible dividends can also be included in the minimum $5,000 income requirement noted above.
When submitting your first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income (including non-eligible dividends) for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of your claim.
When submitting subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income (including non-eligible dividends) for the entire four-week benefit period of your new claim.
Small Business owners can receive income from their business in different ways, including as salary, business income or dividends. In determining their eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (i.e. monthly $1,000 income limit or $5,000 prior year income requirement):
- Owners who take a salary from their business should consider their pre-tax salary;
- Owners who rely on business income should consider their net pre-tax income (gross income less expenses);
- Owners who rely on dividend income should consider this as self-employment income provided it comes from non –eligible dividends (generally, those paid out of corporate income taxed at the small business rate).
How to Apply for the (CERB)
The CERB benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting on April 6th. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.
If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, whether or not you are eligible for Employment Insurance. If you were eligible for more than $500 per week through EI, and choose to apply for CERB instead, you will still only receive the $500 per week CERB benefit. However, you will retain your eligibility to receive for Employment Insurance after you stop receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and the period that you received the CERB does not impact your EI entitlement.
If you are already receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, or have already applied for EI benefits, then you do not need to apply for the CERB for the first eligibility period. Those already receiving EI benefits will continue to receive these benefits until the end of their benefit period.
If you meet the eligibility criteria noted above, there are 3 ways for you to apply:
- By accessing the application in your CRA “MyAccount” secure portal;
- By accessing the application in your Service Canada “MyServiceCanadaAccount” secure portal; or
- By calling a toll-free number equipped with automated application process. (No Phone # Available Yet)
NOTE – Each CERB eligibility period lasts for four weeks. Once your first eligibility period expires, if you continue to be eligible for the CERB, you must re-apply for subsequent periods.
My Service Canada Account
No CRA “MyAccount” or My Service Canada Account?
If you do not have a CRA “My Account” or Service Canada “MyServiceCanadaAccount”, you may want to consider creating a CRA “My Account”.
***You will need information from your 2018 personal income tax return.
To create a CRA “My Account” follow this link:
Scroll down to Option 2 and next to the Green CRA Login click on CRA Register
You will be redirected to a new webpage where you will be answering a few questions to validate your identity.
To answer the questions, you will need the following:
- Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Your postal code
- Your Date of Birth (DOB) – Day-Month-Year (xxxx)
- Tax information from your 2018 personal income tax return (The amount showing on line xxx of the 2018 personal income tax return)
The following message will appear:
As a security measure we will mail your CRA security code to the address you have on record with the CRA. You should receive it within 5-10 days.
Click Next to confirm your postal code:
- Confirm your postal code
Click Next to create a CRA user ID and password:
- Follow the instructions to create a CRA user ID and password
***Make note of your CRA user ID and password and keep in a secure location
Click Next to create five security questions:
- Follow the instructions to create five security questions
Click Next to create accept terms and conditions of use
- Enter your newly created CRA user ID and password
Click I agree to accept terms and conditions of use
***You will be redirected to another page where you will need to accept additional terms and conditions of use.
Click I agree to accept terms and conditions of use again
The next page should redirect you to your CRA “MyAccount” with limited access to your information.
You can logout at this point.
After You Receive Your CRA Security Code
Once you receive your CRA security code in the mail, you can go back to the CRA “MyAccount” page to complete the registration process and enter the CRA security code to gain full access. Follow this link:
Scroll down to Option 2 and click on the Green CRA Login
Enter your CRA user ID and password
Enter your CRA security code
At this point, there will be information and application forms to access the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on that webpage.
For more information on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and how to apply visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html
CERB Transition to EI Benefits and Revised EI Program
Upon the cessation of the CERB program on September 26, 2020, Canadians already receiving benefits through Service Canada will be transitioned to the Employment Insurance (EI) program provided that they are EI eligible and continue to need income support. The CRA has indicated that in some situations, individuals will need to re-apply in order to begin receiving EI benefits, however, further details on these situations have not yet been provided.
In order to further increase access to EI benefits and ensure that individuals previously collecting CERB can continue to receive needed financial support, the following changes were also made to the EI program effective September 27, 2020:
- Reduction of required insurable hours in the 52 weeks prior to their EI application from 420 under the normal rules to 120.
- Increase the minimum weekly EI benefit from 55% of average weekly earnings to $500 per week or $240 per week for extended parental benefits.
- Increase the minimum number of weeks for EI eligibility from 14 to 26.
For more details on the temporary changes to the EI program and how to apply visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/notice-covid-19.html
For answers to frequently asked questions about the transition to EI visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/transition/ei-questions.html
Other Individual Relief Benefits
In addition to the above EI changes, the government has also introduced the following new benefit programs available for individuals impacted by COVID-19 effective September 27, 2020:
- Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) – Benefit of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers who are directly affected by COVID-19, but who otherwise do not qualify for regular EI benefits.
- Eligible individuals can receive a benefit of up to $1,000 ($900 after 10% taxes withheld) for each two-week period, and must re-apply every two weeks for a continuation of benefits.
- Can apply for up to 13 two-week eligibility periods between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
- Individuals who earn more than $38,000 in net income on their income tax return must repay $0.50 for every dollar earned in excess of $38,000 (up to the total CRB benefit received).
- For more details on the Canada Recovery Benefit and how to apply visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-benefit.html
- Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) - Benefit of $500 per week ($450 after 10% taxes withheld) for up to two weeks for workers who have stopped working due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50%, but who otherwise do not qualify for regular EI benefits.
- To receive second week of benefits, must re-apply after first week of eligibility.
- Can apply for any two weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
- For more details on the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and how to apply visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-sickness-benefit.html
- Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) – Benefit of $500 per week, per household for up to 26 weeks for individuals who have been unable to work for at least 60% of their normally scheduled work within a given week.
- In order to qualify, must have had work hours reduced because of one of the following conditions:
- they must take care of a child who is under 12 years of age on the first day of the period for which the benefit is claimed; or,
- they must provide care to a family member with a disability or a dependent.
- Under both criteria above the requirement for care must be attributed to reasons due to COVID-19. For more details on the Canada Recovering Caregiving Benefit and how to apply visit
- Must re-apply after each week of eligibility if situation continues.
- Can apply for up to 26 one-week eligibility periods between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
- For more information on the Canada Recovering Caregiving Benefit and how to apply visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-caregiving-benefit.html
- In order to qualify, must have had work hours reduced because of one of the following conditions:
As of October 12, 2020, applications for all three of the above benefit programs is now open.
For answers to frequently asked questions about these new recovery benefits visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/transition/questions.html
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
On April 29, 2020 the federal government released details for the proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) which is intended to provide support for students impacted by COVID-19 in the form of the. This program will provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Through the CESB, currently being considered by Parliament, students who are not receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit would receive $1,250 per month for up to four months (May-August 2020). Students with disabilities, students with dependents would receive an additional $750. The CESB would be available to:
- students who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate;
- students who ended their studies or graduated no earlier than December 2019;
- high-school graduates who have applied for and will be joining post-secondary programs in the coming months; and
- Canadian students studying abroad meeting one of the above criteria.
Students who meet one of the below criteria during the four-week period for which they are applying for the CESB would be able to do so starting in May:
- You are unable to work due to COVID-19*
- You are actively looking for, but cannot find work due to COVID-19
- You are currently working during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you expect your income from employment and self-employment to be $1,000 or less (before taxes) during the 4-week period you are applying for
*The Canada Revenue Agency has also clarified that students who are “unable to work” would include students who may be:
- self-isolating or in quarantine
- ill or have underlying health conditions
- caring for others who are ill or vulnerable to COVID-19
- caring for dependants while schools or daycares are closed
- studying abroad and waiting to be repatriated by the Canadian Embassy, or only allowed to work on campus, but cannot find work
For more information on the Canada Emergency Student Benefit visit https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/emergency-student-benefit.html