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04 Apr 2020

How To Apply For CERB If You've Lost Your Income Because of COVID-19 Featured

What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit? If you stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support.

How to apply

The government will start accepting applications on April 6. Prior to April 6, individuals who are without work and are eligible for EI can continue to apply for Employment Insurance. Applications can be made online, through the Canada Revenue Agency website using CRA My Account, or they can be done over the phone at 1-800-959-2019.

You will need your SIN and postal code to use the phone option. Both services will be available seven-days-a-week, 21-hours-a-day (they will be closed from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. ET each day). Those eligible will receive a single, $2,000 payment, which equates to $500 per week for a four-week period. The first payment is being backdated to March 15. CERB will be paid by direct deposit — which can take up to three business days — or can be done by cheque, which can take up to 10 business days. Applicants can re-apply a maximum of four times, for a total of 16 weeks and the benefits are taxable.

20200404 CERB ByBlacks Canada Emergency Response Benefit 900x538px


The CERB covers Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children because of school or daycare closures.

It also applies to anyone who was laid off and qualifies for EI. But unlike EI, it also applies to people who don’t, such as freelancers, contractors and people still technically employed but no longer receiving income due to the pandemic.

The benefit will be 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;
  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; 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 income. The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19. If you are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.

If you are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits, you will continue to receive your benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If your EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, you can apply for the CERB after your benefits end.

Have more questions? Click here to go to the official government of Canada website for more info.

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