The Canada Emergency Response Benefit

By Courtney March
April 1, 2020

On March 25, 2020, the Government of Canada proposed legislation to enact the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) in response to the unprecedented volume of Employment Insurance (“EI”) applications it received due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Currently, the CERB would be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

CERB is a taxable benefit which provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for eligible individuals. CERB is intended to cover an individual who:

  • has lost their job due to COVID-19;
  • is sick with COVID-19;
  • is quarantined;
  • is taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
  • is a working parent who has to forego pay to take care of a sick child or a child who is at home due to daycare or school closures;
  • is employed but not receiving income due to a disruption in their work; or
  • is self-employed or a contractor who would not otherwise be eligible for EI.

The Government of Canada anticipates the application for the CERB to be available through a portal in early April 2020. It is expected that eligible applicants will receive their CERB payments within 10 days of the application.

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • be at least 15 years of age;
  • be a resident in Canada; and
  • for 2019 or in the 12 months preceding the date of their application, have made a total income of at least $5,000 from employment, self-employment, parental and pregnancy benefits under the Employment Insurance Act, or allowances/benefits under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care by the person of a new-born child or child placed with them for the purpose of adoption.

Canadians already receiving EI

Individuals who already receive EI benefits should not apply to the CERB as they will continue to receive their EI benefits. If their EI benefits end prior to October 3, 2020, they are eligible to apply to CERB once their EI payments cease provided that they are still without employment income.


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