March 25, 2020

By: Azadeh Taghizadeh, Daniel Sorensen and Lawrence Smith

The government has proposed a new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), in order to help businesses and workers of Canada with financial support for those who have been forced to stop working due to COVID-19. The CERB replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. The purpose of the CERB is to help keep afloat businesses and workers and preserve the ability for businesses and workers to resume operations as soon as it is safe to do so.

What financial support is being provided by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

There are many workers who must stop working as a result of COVID-19 and who may not be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits, WorkSafe BC Compensation, or other income support. In order to provide financial support, the Canada Revenue Agency of Canada (the “CRA”) will be providing a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months.

Once applied for and accepted, workers and businesses can expect to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of the application. The CERB would be paid every 4 weeks and available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

Who is entitled to receive the CERB?

This applies to workers who:

  • are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
  • have children and must stay home to care for their sick children, or need to care for their children due to school and daycare closures;
  • are on unpaid leave because they have either been sent home by their employer or due to lack of work available; or
  • are self employed or wage earners, including contract workers, who are not entitled to Employment Insurance.

Essentially, those workers who have lost their jobs or who are on unpaid leave and who do not have income support in order to provide for themselves and their families due to COVID-19.

What if I am eligible for Employment Insurance?

Even if you are eligible for EI, you can still apply for and receive CERB. If you have received the CERB payments for the full 16-week period, and if you are still unemployed, then you may apply for your EI regular and sickness benefits.

If you are already receiving EI benefits as of today, you will continue receiving those benefits and you should not apply for CERB. If your EI benefits are to end before October 3, 2020, then you may apply for CERB once your EI benefits stop and you are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.

When is this taxable benefit available?

Unfortunately, at this time, the CRA has not provided more details about the process of applying for this benefit. The CRA advises that more details will be available through their website in early April.

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