What Does the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Entail?

The Canadian government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on March 25, 2020, as a means of providing financial assistance to individuals who have lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The benefit is taxable and offers up to $2,000 per month for a maximum of four months. It combines the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit into a more accessible and simplified package.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Who Qualifies for CERB?

The CERB is available to Canadians who have lost their jobs, become ill, been quarantined, or are taking care of someone with COVID-19. It also extends to working parents who must stay home without pay to look after sick children or care for them during school and daycare closures. The benefit applies to both salaried employees and self-employed individuals who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

In addition, individuals who are still employed but have not received income due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 can also qualify for the CERB. This helps businesses retain their workers during these trying times and enables them to quickly resume operations once possible.

The CERB is available to all Canadians who have stopped working due to COVID-19, whether they are eligible for EI or not, ensuring that they have prompt access to the financial assistance they require.


Should You Apply for CERB if You Are Already Receiving EI?

If you are currently receiving EI regular and sickness benefits, you do not need to apply for the CERB. You will continue to receive your EI benefits, and there is no need to switch to the CERB. If your EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, and you are still unable to return to work due to COVID-19, you may then apply for the CERB.

Individuals who have already applied for EI and are still waiting for their application to be processed do not need to reapply for the CERB. Those who are eligible for regular and sickness EI benefits can access their standard EI benefits if they remain unemployed beyond the 16 weeks covered by the CERB.


Applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The application portal for the CERB will be available in early April. Those eligible for EI who have lost their job may continue to apply for EI.


When Will You Receive CERB?

Upon applying, Canadians will receive their CERB payments within ten days. The government has advised that this benefit is taxable.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

How is CERB Different from EI?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) differs from Employment Insurance (EI) in several ways. Firstly, applicants for CERB do not need to provide proof of meeting a strict set of eligibility criteria, unlike EI. This means that self-employed individuals and business owners who may not have previously qualified for EI may now be eligible for CERB. Even if a worker has not lost their job but is not receiving pay and has been laid off, they can still receive CERB payments.

Moreover, CERB payments are not linked to the recipient’s previous income, unlike EI. All recipients of CERB will receive a flat payment of $2,000 per month. This flat payment model benefits those at the lower end of the income spectrum, with estimates suggesting that CERB would replace 89% of the lost income for a minimum-wage earner in Ontario working a 40-hour week. In comparison, EI benefits would only replace 55% of that individual’s employment income.

However, as a person’s income increases, CERB becomes less attractive. While the maximum weekly payment under CERB is $500, EI weekly payments can go up to $572. As a result, once a worker’s annual income exceeds $47,272, they would be better off under EI than under CERB.