Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

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This page was last updated on April 14, 2020.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. You may apply for the CERB for any four-week period from March 15, 2020 to September 26, 2020.

Who is eligible

The benefit is currently available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application (see below); and
  • Who are 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, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.

Defining 2019 income

Under the program, 2019 income may include:

  • Employment income;
  • Self-employment income;
  • Non-eligible dividend income; or
  • Provincial or federal benefits related to maternity and paternity leave.

Things to note

  • Amounts received through the CERB are taxable but no taxes will be withheld from the amount you receive. Recipients should be aware that taxes may be payable on the CERB when you file your tax returns; and
  • If you have recently applied for Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits, you do not need to re-apply. Your application will automatically be assessed to determine if you are eligible for the CERB.

Recent announcements

Changes to the CERB were announced on April 15, 2020 by the Prime Minister. These announced changes include the following:

 

  • Workers who earn $1,000 per month or less from employment and/or self-employment income will now be eligible for the CERB. This includes, among other sources of income: tips, non-eligible dividends, honoraria and royalties. It excludes pensions, student loans and bursaries;
  • Seasonal workers who will not be able to engage in their regular seasonal employment will be eligible for the CERB;
  • Artists’ royalties from past works will not prevent them from accessing the CERB although it is currently unclear if there will be a dollar limit on the amount of these royalties; and
  • Workers who have run out of EI benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 will be eligible for the CERB.

These announced changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020.

How to apply

There are two ways to apply:

  • Online through CRA My Account; and
  • Over the phone with an automated phone service at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

For more information on the CERB, click here.