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 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits or have run out of EI benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Who have not voluntarily quit their job;
  • 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
  • Earn $1,000 or less for a period of at least consecutive days in the initial four-week period of their claim or $1,000 or less in subsequent four-week claim periods.

Defining 2019 income

Under the program, 2019 income may include:

  • Employment income;
  • Self-employment income;
  • Non-eligible dividend income;
  • Tips that have been declared as income;
  • Honoraria (e.g. amounts paid to emergency service volunteers);
  • Royalties (e.g. amounts paid to artists); or
  • Provincial or federal benefits related to maternity and paternity leave.

What counts towards the $1,000 income limit

The income that counts towards this limit includes:

  • Employment income;
  • Self-employment income;
  • Non-eligible dividend income;
  • Tips;
  • Honoraria (e.g. amounts paid to emergency service volunteers); and
  • Royalties received from work that took place after the person began their CERB claim.

Pensions, student loans and bursaries do not count toward this income limit.

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 June 16, 2020 by the Prime Minister. These announced changes include the following:

  • The maximum number of weeks that a worker can claim the CERB will be extended from 16 weeks to 24 weeks.

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.