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UPDATE: The Government of Canada has launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) website with further details on eligibility and the application process for employees.

On March 25, Bill C-13. “An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19” received Royal Assent. This legislation provided further detail as well as changes to the measures previously announced in Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadian workers. A key highlight of this legislation is the introduction of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The new CERB replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. This document summarizes the CERB, with information available up to March 25, 2020.

What is CERB?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a taxable benefit that will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months (16 weeks) for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit and is intended to be a simpler and more accessible combination of these measures. The CERB also expands and defines eligibility requirements.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

  • workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

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.

Who is Eligible for CERB?

In order to be an eligible worker, an applicant must be a resident of Canada who is 15 years of age or older and who, for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day on which they make an application had a total income of at least $5,000 from:

    • employment;
    • self-employment;
    • certain EI benefits (maternity and parental benefits); and
    • allowances, money or other benefits paid to the person under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the person of one or more of their new-born children or one or more children placed with them for the purpose of adoption.

The worker must cease to work for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment. For the period of cessation of work, the applicant cannot receive income from the sources listed above, and cannot receive any other EI benefits.  Workers that quit voluntarily are not eligible for CERB.

UPDATE APRIL 6: CRA announced that individuals in receipt of non-eligible dividends (generally, those paid out of corporate income taxed at the small business rate) could count this income towards the $5,000 income requirement to be eligible for CERB.

What About EI?       

  • 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.
  • EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

How do I Apply for CERB?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number. Further details about the application process have not yet been announced.

UPDATE APRIL 6: The CERB is accessible beginning on April 6 through My CRA Account and through an automated telephone service.

When will CERB Payments Begin?

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.

Sources for Updates:

Over the next days and weeks, further specifics on all programs announced will continue to be released. Most of the details for these initiatives will be released on one of these four webpages:




This article has been written in general terms to provide broad guidance only. It should not be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice.  Please contact our office to discuss this information in the context of your specific circumstances. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage resulting from your reliance on the information in this article.




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