EI Eligible or Not: The New Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Beth Graddon

With every passing week Canadians are facing enormous changes due to the pandemic and governments are quickly addressing this with new measures to cope with the economic hardships occurring. This week’s revised Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) responds to criticism that the first attempt left too many people out and increases the $900 bi-weekly payment proposed to $2000 monthly for up to four months. Here are the details. 

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is a modified and enhanced relief package. It replaces the previously proposed Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit available to those who do not qualify for EI. Under the previous plan, no loss or reduction of income was supported except in three cases: the loss was due to being stricken by the virus, caregiving for a sick person, or having to take time off work because children are at home due to school closures.

What is it? The new plan provides a taxable benefit that will be available to all Canadians who have disruptions to their work situation, whether they are EI eligible or not.

How much is it? The CERB will provide $2,000 per month for up to 4-months for those who lose their income as a result of COVID-19.

Who is eligible? Three important income-earners are covered: regular wage earners, as well as contract workers, and self-employed who are not otherwise eligible for EI. Applicants must be affected by any of the following circumstances:

  • Job loss
  • Sick
  • Quarantined
  • Working parents staying home with children
  • Disruption in work situation, leading to lack of income

Already receiving EI? Those already receiving EI benefits as of today will continue to receive their benefits and don’t need to apply before the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, there will be the option to apply after if they’re unable to return to work.

When to apply? The government has stated that the portal to apply will be available in early April.

When do payments begin? The benefits will be paid every four weeks from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020. Payments will be received within 10 days of application. This means that applications received in early April should receive funds in mid April.

How to apply? A secure web portal will be available in April to apply online; or an automated phone line or toll-free number can be used. Specifics were not available at the time this article was written.

It was also unclear whether taxes would be withheld from this benefit. Stay tuned to Knowledge Bureau Report and we’ll keep you in the loop on changes as we hear of them.

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