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Applications Open for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Government of Canada has opened applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

To help manage the volume of applications through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Service Canada, applicants are asked to apply over four days this week, depending on the month of their birth.

Canadians who have already applied for Employment Insurance (EI) do not need to reapply. To date, over 1.2 million of the EI applications received since March 15, 2020 have been processed through the new CERB. As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, the Government of Canada will continue to carefully consider any additional steps it can take to support Canadians.

Please Note: The CERB will be paid once per four week period. After each four week period, recipients will need to re-apply, up to a maximum of 16 weeks.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit Eligibility

To qualify for CERB, you must:

  • Reside in Canada and be at least 15 years old.
  • Have stopped working because of COVID-19.
  • Have had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of the application.
  • Have been or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, you expect to have no employment income.

Updates to Eligibility

On April 15, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced expanded eligibility criteria for CERB. The new criteria are as follows:

To help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the government will be changing the eligibility rules to:

  • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
  • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

The benefit is also available to workers who, after March 15, are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits.

The income of at least $5,000 may be from any or a combination of the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the EI program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Québec Parental Insurance Plan.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit Quick Facts

  • The CERB is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. Eligible workers can apply no later than December 2, 2020.
  • Direct deposit payments will be delivered into accounts within 3 business days of applicants being eligible to receive it, and cheques within 10 days. To ensure timely delivery of their payments and avoid any potential payment disruptions, Canadians should sign up for direct deposit.
  • The CERB will support Canadians who have stopped working because of COVID-19 by providing $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. Some examples of support to workers provided by the CERB include:
    • workers, including those who are self-employed, who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support;
    • workers who have lost their employment, as well as 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 who are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures; and
    • workers who are still employed, but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.

How to Apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Canadians qualifying for the CERB have two ways to apply:

Apply online using CRA My Account

Sign into the CRA My Account platform and click the COVID-19: Canada Emergency Response Benefit banner at the top of the page. Select the period you want to apply for, declare that you qualify for the benefit and confirm the government has your correct payment information on file.

Apply over the phone

Call the automated toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019. This is a dedicated line for CERB application. It’s recommended to have your social insurance number and postal code to hand for identity verification purposes.

Both services are available 21 hours a day, seven days a week. Both are closed from 3am to 6am each day for maintenance.

Applicants will need to confirm they meet the eligibility criteria, and information provided during the application process may be verified later.

Find Out More

Small Business BC has recently launched the B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service to host all COVID-19 content and resources in one area. You’ll be able to talk to an advisor via live chat, or speak to them over the phone. Click here to find out more.