What Is The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)? (35 FAQs)

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit or CERB is a Canadian Government initiative that will support you and your loved ones by providing financial assistance to both employed and self-employed Canadians who have been directly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. CERB provides a payment of $2,000 for a 4 week period or $500 a week for up to 16 weeks straight. 

CERB is only available and applicable to individuals who stopped work and are not earning any employment or self-employment income as a result of COVID-19. If you are still working and recovering from COVID-19, you are not eligible for CERB. 

You can apply for CERB if you fall under the below conditions and eligibility criteria:

1. You should be residing in Canada and at least 15 years old while you apply

2. The applicant must have stopped working or going to work because of COVID-19 or you are eligible for the Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits

3. Before being impacted, you should have had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of the CERB application

4. As you are infected with the COVID-19, it makes sense for you to self-isolate and quarantine for at least 14 consecutive days for the initial 4-week benefit.

Your income of at least $5,000 may be from any or a combination of all the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance (EI) program.

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Table Of Contents

How To Apply For CERB?

Alright, now that you know all the eligibility parameters, let’s quickly jump into the CERB registration process. 

Click here to apply for CERB

Please note that the applications for CERB will only begin from Monday which is April 6, 2020. Click on the above link if you are reading this post on or after April 6th, 2020. Apply quickly so that your processing will be so much faster and quicker before the applications pile up like EI. 

If you are eligible for CERB and want to apply, there are two options you can do so, here’s how you can do it:

1. Apply online with the “CRA My Account”. In case you are new to Canada and need to open a CRA My Account, here’s the complete in-depth guide to it. 

2. The second option to register for CERB is through applying over the phone with the automated phone service

How To Apply For CERB From The CRA My Account?

1. Login to your CRA My Account by clicking here

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2. After you login successfully, you’ll see the below screen (CRA My Account Overview page), right on top of this page – you’ll see the “Apply for COVID-19 CERB Benefit”. Click on the “Apply Button”

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3. Once you click on the “Apply button”, you’ll be taken over to the “Eligibility” page. Make sure you read this information in detail and select the period from the dropdown (screenshot below). Click on Next. 

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4. Next, you’ll be taken to the “Certification Page”. Read all the information carefully and certify if you meet the conditions specified. Click on the checkbox at the bottom of the page and the next button. 

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5. That’s it. You’re done applying for CERB. All it takes is a couple of minutes and you’re done! Easy Peasy. It hardly takes 2 – 3 minutes to get all this done. You’ll receive the confirmation that funds will be deposited to your bank account within 3 business days (provided you have the direct bank deposit enabled)

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After You’ve Applied For CERB

Once your application has been approved for CERB you can expect the payment of $2,000 or $500 per week for the initial 4-week period. The $2000 payment is for a 4-week period. 

If your situation continues to be in a similar fashion and while you are still recovering from the COVID-19, you can re-apply for the multiple 4-week periods, all the way to a maximum of 16 weeks. That’s 4*4 periods = 16 weeks or 8,000 dollars. Not that, 16 weeks is the max that you can apply for and get the benefits, post that the benefits will cease to exist. 

Alright then, now that we know what CERB is, how you can apply for it and the benefit amount you are entitled to, let’s quickly run over a set of 35 frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you better understand about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and any further questions you might have. 

1. What is the Intent of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or CERB?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is intended to provide temporary income support to workers who are without employment or self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19. This new benefit will be paid out in 4-week installments for up to 16 weeks. The new benefit will be available for weeks beginning March 15, 2020 and ending on October 3, 2020.

2. How Is CERB different from other benefits announced last week?

CERB replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit announced on March 18, 2020. This new benefit will be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

3. Where can I apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Here is the link to apply for CERB

4. I’ve been paying into EI. How do I know whether to apply for EI benefits or CERB?

The Government’s Intent is to streamline EI Sickness, EI Regular, Emergency Care and Support Benefits into the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Once launched, a single portal will assist users through the application to ensure they access the benefit. For any other EI benefits such as maternity, parental, caregiving etc you need to apply through the normal processes.

5. If I’m applying for EI benefits, where do I apply? How much do I get?

Once launched, a single portal will assist you through the application to ensure access to CERB. Again, CERB will provide a $500 weekly amount paid in four-week installments, for up to 16 weeks. The benefit is available until October 3, 2020, and retroactive to March 15, 2020. 

6. Can I apply for EI Regular and Sickness benefits after the 16-week period covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Canadians who are eligible for EI Regular and EI Sickness benefits will still be able to access these benefits. If you are still unemployed after the 16-week period, then you will be covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

7. What happens if I’m currently receiving EI regular or sickness benefits, do I need to reapply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

No. Canadians who are now receiving EI regular and sickness benefits will continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. If your EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, then you can apply for CERB.

8. I have applied for EI, but my claim hasn’t been processed yet. Do I need to reapply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

No. Any current claims that are not processed will be transferred over to Canada Emergency Response Benefit. No re-applying doesn’t really make sense here. 

9. How Do I Qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Like I have said before, CERB will be available to everyone residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old and:

  • you have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the year prior to their application

  • you are without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period, for reasons related to COVID-19.

10. When does CERB come into effect?

You can apply online for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit starting in early April. 

This new benefit will be available for the period beginning March 15, 2020, and ending October 3, 2020.

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11. How much will I receive in CERB?

Workers eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be able to receive a flat weekly rate of $500, paid in four-week installments, for up to 16 weeks.

12. Will someone be able to work while receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

A worker is not permitted to work or receive employment income including paid leave, self-employment income or EI benefits during a minimum 14 consecutive day period within the 4-week period of their application. Once that requirement has been met, workers may earn income on the remaining days within the 4-week period of their application.

13. For what time period will the Canada Emergency Response Benefit be available?

Individuals can apply for the benefit for any four-week period beginning March 15, 2020, and ending on October 3, 2020.

14. Will workers who are not citizens or permanent residents (e.g. temporary foreign workers) be eligible?

The eligibility criteria relate to workers resident in Canada. Workers who are not citizens or permanent residents – including temporary foreign workers and international students – may be eligible to receive the benefit if they stop working for reasons related to COVID-19 and meet the other eligibility criteria.

15. If someone who is Canadian earned income abroad, is he/she eligible? Are international students eligible? Can they earn the income outside of Canada or does it have to be income earned on Canadian soil?

The intent of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is to support workers in the Canadian labour force.

  • Your income does not have to be earned in Canada

  • You should be residing in Canada when you apply for and receive CERB

  • You should have a valid SIN

A Canadian who earned income abroad and who is now residing here is eligible if other conditions are met, if he ceased working, etc. An international student with a valid SIN and currently residing in Canada is eligible if other conditions are met, if he ceased working, etc. A Canadian residing in the UK is not eligible (even if he/she worked in Canada last year).

16. What happens in the case of erroneous payment or overpayment?

If a person has received an income support payment to which they are not entitled, or in excess of the amount to which they are entitled, repayment will be required as soon as is feasible.

17. When and how will I receive my Canada Emergency Response Benefit payment?

Payments will be made through direct deposit or by cheque. Payments are expected to be made after applications are submitted.

18. Can I apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit even if I could qualify for EI benefits?

Yes. Both EI and non-EI eligible individuals will be able to access the new benefit through a new portal.

The new benefit will provide a $500 weekly benefit, paid in four-week installments, for up to 16 weeks. The benefit is available until October 3, 2020, and retroactive to March 15, 2020. For other EI benefits (maternity, parental, caregiving) individuals will need to apply for these benefits through the normal process online at Canada.ca/EI

19. How does this impact someone who is EI eligible? Does it take away from their eligible weeks of benefits?

No. Accessing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will not have an impact on future eligibility of EI claims.

20. What if I am already on EI? How does that impact my ability to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Canadians who are now receiving EI regular and EI sickness benefits will continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the Canada Employment Response Benefit.

If your EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, then you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Also, Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed do not need to reapply. 

21. Can you receive CERB and EI Benefits together? 

No. In order to streamline processing, you will receive the same weekly amount for CERB. However, those that are EI eligible will have access to their EI Sickness or Regular benefits if or when they exhaust their 16-weeks Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

22. If I haven’t been to work due to maternity or parental leave, do I still qualify for CERB?

You can still qualify for CERB provided that you meet the income eligibility requirement. Eligible income includes income from employment, self-employment as well as income from maternity and parental benefits.

23. I am in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19, but I am not sure if I qualify for EI sickness benefit. What should I do?

If you meet the eligibility for the CERB or you have already applied for EI sickness benefit you are good to go. There’s no need to apply again. 

24. Is there a waiting period that is not paid for by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, similar to the EI program?

There is no waiting period for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. 

25. Do you have to be out of work for 14 days or is there any waiting period to apply?

The simple answer here is a “No”. You will be asked to certify that you have not quit your job and have been without income for the past 14 consecutive days within a four-week period (due to COVID-19). 

26. Can self-employed workers receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Yes, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and have not received income from employment or self-employment for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period for reasons related to COVID-19.

27. How will I know if the Canada Emergency Response Benefit applies to me?

The CERB Benefit will be available to workers residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old, and who have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the year prior to their application. Also, you should be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period (should be because of COVID-19 illness).

28. Do I need to be laid off to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

No. Workers who remain attached to their company can receive the benefit. They simply have to be without income for at least 14 consecutive days within a four-week period as a result of stopping work for reasons related to COVID-19.

Remember if you have COVID-19 and are getting paid, you should not be applying for the CERB. 

29. What if I receive an employer top-up, do I qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

All the details about the employer top-ups are still being finalized. There’s not much of information right now about this. 

30. If I receive a partial salary, can I still qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

No. In order to qualify, an individual must be without employment or self-employment
income for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period. 

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31. What happens if I am currently on an EI claim that will be exhausted in a couple of weeks, but my season is not going to open due to COVID-19?

Canadians who are now receiving EI benefits will continue to receive their benefits and should not apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they may apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit once their EI Benefits will cease and still unemployed. 

Quick note – Canadians who are eligible for EI benefits will still be able to access their normal EI benefits after the 16-week period covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (if unemployed)

32. Do I need a medical certificate to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if I am in quarantine or sick from COVID-19?

No. Individuals will only need to complete an online application form to apply for CERB

33. Is the CERB Benefit available retroactively?

Yes. Applications for income support can be made for four-week periods between March 15, 2020, and October 3, 2020.

34. What is the Work Sharing Program?

Now here’s the thing right, the Canadian Government has introduced temporary special measures to the Work Sharing Program. These new measures are available to every employer who is directly impacted by COVID-19. The new rules are applicable to employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19.

Features of the work-sharing program:

  • Extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks

  • Waive the mandatory cooling-off period between agreements

  • Ease the recovery plan requirements

  • Timelines for the temporary special Work Sharing measures are effective from March 15, 2020, to March 14, 2021

35. What is the Government’s take on the EI wait times?

When we talk about COVID-19 and its impact on people’s lives, guess what last week alone over 900,000 EI claims were filed.

Again, The government is putting in place strategies and approaches to ensure the timely delivery of CERB and EI benefits and quicken things up. 

Conclusion 

There you go, that was my take on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or CERB. 

Please do apply for CERB if you are affected by the COVID-19 and are out of work. 

If you liked the content of this article and found it helpful, do share it on social media and help spread the word. Also, let me know if you have any questions about CERB, or benefits in general. Thanks again for reading. 

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