COVID-19 : The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

On March 24, the federal House of Commons passed the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act. The Act introduces emergency measures to respond mainly to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some CERB FAQs.

Question: What do I need to know about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

CERB replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit announced last week by the federal government. Its purpose is to provide financial assistance to all workers in Canada who are losing income for reasons related to COVID-19.

Which workers qualify and what are the other criteria?

  • Workers at least 15 years old who live in Canada and whose income (for 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the application) is at least $5,000;
  • The income of at least $5,000 includes earnings from: employment; self-employment; employment insurance, allowances, benefits or other amounts payable under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or care provided by a parent to their children (such as QPIP);
  • Workers who are losing income as a result of COVID-19 for reasons beyond their control. Voluntary departures are excluded.
  • Workers must prove that they have received no earnings for 14 consecutive days.

Important Note for PSAC-Quebec Members

  • Contract, student, casual and seasonal workers are also eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit;
  • You do not have to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. You just need to prove that you are living in Canada;
  • Members whose work contract will not be renewed and/or were anticipating work may qualify for the program if they earned at least $5,000 in the 12 months prior to the application;
  • The termination of employment must be involuntary;
  • Members who are currently receiving employment insurance benefits will continue to receive them. They may qualify for CERB if their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020.

How much would I receive?

  • Taxable income support of $2,000 a month, for up to four months.

How do I apply?

  • Workers can apply for any four-week period between March 15, 2020 and October 3, 2020.
  • A single portal for accessing CERB will be available for all applications. The EI application intake system is not designed to respond to such a high volume of applications in a crisis situation.
  • The portal for accessing CERB will be available in early April.
  • Applications may not be submitted after December 2, 2020.

When will the benefits be paid?

  • Payments will start within 10 days of application. The benefits are paid every four weeks, from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

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