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The COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a shock to our economy, shuttering entire industries and leaving many more businesses in limbo, forcing layoffs and loss of income on many people. Fortunately, the Canadian government and several other institutions are offering financial relief for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have lost your job, have decreased income, need to stay home to take care of someone else, need to isolate or are sick yourself, the following emergency measures can help cushion the blow, including the latest news on the federal government’s plan for relief when the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ends.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

This is a COVID-19 emergency aid measure set up by the federal government to help get financial relief to Canadians quickly and efficiently. It is a taxable benefit that pays $2,000 per month for up to four months (16 weeks), retroactive to March 15.

Who qualifies for CERB?

  • Workers who have lost their jobs or cannot work because of the COVID-19 outbreak
  • UPDATED: Workers whose income has fallen to $1,000 per month or less, including self-employed and gig-economy workers
  • Workers who are sick, quarantined, or caring for someone else who is sick
  • Working parents who can’t work because schools and daycares are closed
  • Workers who still have jobs but, due to required workplace shutdowns and layoffs, are not working right now
  • Independent contractors and self-employed workers who don’t usually qualify for Employment Insurance (EI)

How is CERB different from EI?

The CERB is specifically designed to fill in the gaps that surround the current EI system. It will be easier to apply for, benefits will arrive sooner and more people will qualify. If you are already receiving EI or sickness benefits, then do not apply for the CERB.

If you have already applied for EI and your application is still being processed, you do not have to reapply. If you are still unemployed after the four-month period, people who qualify for EI can still access the standard EI benefits. 

How to apply for CERB

Applications via automated phone service ad online are available as of April 6, and benefits will be paid out within 10 days of applying. Check here for more details and updates as they become available. 

What benefits are available when CERB ends?

UPDATE: Here’s what we know so far about the new benefit that will replace CERB. The last eligibility period for people to receive CERB ends on September 26. An estimated four million people will move to EI after that.

For self-employed people

If you are self-employed and/or don’t qualify for EI, you will be eligible for $400 per week. There are some qualifications to that amount: You’ll have to repay 50 cents on every dollar earned above $38,000, and this new benefit will be available for 26 weeks over a one-year period.

For people who must leave work to care for a family member

As of Sept. 27, 2020, Canadians who must leave work to take care of a family member can apply for EI Caregiving benefits and leave. Unlike with regular EI benefits, you can qualify with as little as 120 insured hours of work (as opposed to 600 hours). The benefit provides a minimum of $500 per week, which may later be subject to tax. And if you received CERB previously, you will have more than the standard 52 weeks in order to work the minimum insured work hours to qualify for this benefit.