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Frequently Asked Questions: The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Employment Insurance (EI)

Last updated: June 23, 2020, 2:09 pm  

Also available: Canada Emergency Response Benefit vs Employment Insurance

The federal government has indicated they will be providing a new benefit to support people who have lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This benefit is called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This benefit is not intended to replace Employment Insurance (EI), but rather to support workers who may not be eligible for EI.

Details about the program have been released, but new information is being added daily. Any changes will be added to this document as they arise.

1. What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The CERB is an income support program for workers who have stopped working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide $2000 per four week period for any worker who is out of work for 14 consecutive days in the first four week period and out of work completely in the subsequent four week periods or received regular EI benefits for at least one week since December 29, 2019 and are no longer eligible for EI benefits. This benefit will be available from March 15, 2020 until September 26, 2020.

2. Who qualifies for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The CERB is available to any worker that has stopped working due to COVID-19 and does not qualify for other income supports. This applies to any worker who, for reasons related to COVID-19:

  • Is out of work due to:
    • Having been laid off or terminated;
    • Being sick, quarantined, in self-isolation or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
    • Being working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children due to school and/or daycare closures.

OR

  • is continuing to work but receiving less than $1000 (before taxes) from employment or self-employment income;

OR

  • received regular EI benefits for at least 1 week since December 29, 2019 and are no longer eligible for EI benefits.

Extra 8 Weeks Available
CERB has been extended from 16 weeks to 24 weeks for workers who:
  • stopped working due to COVID-19, or
  • are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits, or
  • have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020, and
  • meets all other eligibility criteria.

3. I am a part-time worker who supplemented my income with casual work. Will I qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The CERB has been expanded to now include workers who are out of work completely, workers continuing to work but earning less than $1000 (before taxes) per four week period and workers who were accessing EI regular benefits but are no longer eligible for EI benefits.

4. How much money will I get if I access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The CERB will pay $2000 per four week period to a maximum of 24 weeks.

5. Is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) taxable?

The CERB is a taxable benefit. However, the government has indicated that taxes will not be deducted at this time. You will need to report any payments received on next year’s tax filing. An information slip will be made available for the 2020 tax year in your My Account section (on the CRA website) under Tax Information Slips.

6. What will I be asked when I apply?

You will be asked to attest that you:

  1. You did not apply for, nor receive, CERB or EI benefits from Service Canada for the same eligibility period;
  2. You have not quit your job voluntarily;
  3. You resided in Canada;
  4. You are 15 years old or more when you apply; and
  5. You earned a minimum of $5000 income in the last 12 months or in 2019 from one or more of the following sources:
    • Employment income
    • Self-employment income
    •  Provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave.

7. How do I apply?

You can apply through your My Account section on the CRA website or by telephone at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

8. If I have already applied for Employment Insurance (EI), do I need to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as well?

If you have applied for EI, you do not need to apply for CERB. Your claim will be automatically assessed for processing under the CERB program. 

9. I have not applied for Employment Insurance (EI) or Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). How do I know which program is appropriate?

If you believe you will meet the eligibility requirements for EI, you may continue to use that application even though you will receive the same amount of money. This will establish your EI claim for following the 16 week period. Service Canada is looking at ways to expedite the process for those that are waiting. 

If you do not believe you would be eligible for EI but would be eligible for CERB, please apply directly for the CERB.

10. Should I apply for both Employment Insurance (EI) and Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

No, you should only apply for one program.

11. When will I receive my first payment for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The government has indicated that workers should receive money within 10 days of their application having been processed.

12. What if I do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The government has indicated that they recognize not all workers will qualify for either program. They have indicated that they are committed to addressing those situations, but no further information is available at this time.

13. What if the work shortages go beyond sixteen weeks?*

The COVID-19 pandemic response is changing daily and the government will continue to assess need and ways to assist workers moving forward.

*NOTE: CERB has now been extended to be available for 24 weeks.

14. I am sick and quarantined due to COVID-19, should I apply for Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

If you are eligible for EI (sickness benefit), you should apply for EI.

15. Will I need a doctor’s note to access Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

No, the requirement for a doctor’s note will be waived for EI and there is no requirement for a doctor’s note for CERB.

16. Will all Employment Insurance (EI) benefits change?

No. Maternity, parental and caregiver benefits will continue to operate as they have.

17. I already had an open Employment Insurance (EI) claim when the pandemic was announced. What do I do?

If your claim was approved before March 15, 2020, your claim will continue until your weeks of entitlement have ended. If you are still out of work at that time due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for CERB.

18.  When should I apply for the CERB?

  • Mondays: Canadians born in January, February, or March
  • Tuesdays: Canadians born in April, May, or June
  • Wednesdays: Canadians born in  July, August, or September
  • Thursdays: Canadians born in October, November, or December
  • Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: Canadians born in any month

19. What are the eligibility periods for the CERB?

The eligibility periods are fixed in 4-week blocks. You can apply for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 24 weeks (6 periods).

  • Eligibility Period 1: March 15, 2020 to April 11, 2020
  • Eligibility Period 2:  April 12, 2020 to May 9, 2020
  • Eligibility Period 3: May 10, 2020 to June 6, 2020
  • Eligibility Period 4: June 7, 2020 to July 4, 2020
  • Eligibility Period 5: July 5, 2020 to August 1, 2020
  • Eligibility Period 6: August 2, 2020 to August 29, 2020
  • Eligibility Period 7: August 30, 2020 to September 26, 2020

Also available: Canada Emergency Response Benefit vs Employment Insurance