June 2020 Update: CERB Has been extended another eight weeks, for a total of 24 weeks.
$82 billion has been pledged in an emergency package for Canadians who lost their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Canadian government has been kind enough to extend a $2,000 per month Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for those affected.
Since there has never been a benefit like this offered before in Canada’s history, there are many questions surrounding its rollout.
Are you eligible to receive the CERB? How much CERB can you get? When will you start receiving the CERB? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
Do You Qualify For the $500/Week CERB Payment?
To be considered for the CERB, you must meet these criteria:
- Be above 15 years of age and reside in Canada
- Have stopped working due to the coronavirus crisis.
- Did not voluntarily quit your job.
- Had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the CERB application
- Expect to have no employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the first four-week period.
- In the subsequent periods following the 14 consecutive days, you are expected to have no employment or self-employment income.
Examples where you may qualify to receive CERB:
- You’ve been let go from your job
- Your hours are reduced to zero but you are not laid off
- You are in quarantine or sick because of the coronavirus.
- You’re away from work to take care of others in quarantine or sick with the coronavirus.
- You are away from work to take care of children or other dependents whose daycare is closed due to coronavirus.
If you start working again after you get a CERB payment and then stop working again, you need to re-apply for the CERB payments.
How Much CERB Benefit Payment Will You Receive?
Fixed 4-week Eligibility Periods
If you get accepted for the CERB payment, you will receive it for four weeks, at $500/week. After the first four weeks are up, you have to apply again for the CERB.
This can be done up to a maximum of 16 weeks, or four total applications.
If you are approved, your first payment will be retroactive to when you are eligible for CERB, so you might receive higher than normal.
You can apply going back to March 15, 2020 if you are eligible. Here are the periods:
- March 15, 2020 – April 11, 2020
- April 12, 2020 – May 9, 2020
- May 10, 2020 – June 6, 2020
- June 7, 2020 – July 4, 2020
- July 5, 2020 – August 1, 2020
- August 2, 2020 – August 29, 2020
- August 30, 2020 – September 26, 2020
- Extended another eight weeks
David was laid off on March 15, 2020 due to the coronavirus. He sent in an application on April 12 and received his first payment on April 16. His first payment will include $2,000 for his first month that he was eligible, plus another $2,000 for his first 4-week period for a total of $4,000
Note that the CERB taxable income, so make sure you set aside enough for taxes.
CERB Payment Dates in Canada 2020
If you have direct deposit setup, you should receive your CERB payment in only three business days. If you get a cheque mailed, your CERB payment will arrive within ten days of submitting your application.
The amount will be retroactive to whenever you were eligible to start receiving CERB.
I recommend setting up your direct deposit through the CRA website, to get your money within 3 business days.
How to Apply for the CERB Payments
You can apply for the CERB at the Canada.ca website found here.
You will need to provide:
- Personal contact information such as postal code
- Social insurance number (SIN)
- May be asked to provide documentation to verify your application at a future date, so make sure to fill out all information accurately.
If you qualify, you’ll receive your CERB payment within 10 days.
If you can’t get through the website as it’s been a bit overwhelmed with traffic lately, you can try calling the automated service at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.
CERB and Employment Insurance (EI) Guide
If you are eligible for both CERB and EI, the government says you should apply for CERB.
If you qualify for CERB but have previously applied for EI, your claims will be automatically processed under CERB instead of EI.
This is good news if you were making less than $2,000/month from your EI, as you will be bumped up to that amount now.
Note that even if you would have received more with EI than the $500/week amount, you will still only receive the $500/week under CERB.
You will still qualify to receive EI after you stop receiving CERB after the 16 weeks is over. If you were already receiving EI you will continue to do so and do not need to apply to the CERB.
You can switch to CERB if your EI payments end before October if you are still without any employment or self employed income due to the coronavirus.
CERB Penalties and Fines
If you are caught lying about your qualifications for receiving CERB, you could be hit with a $5,000 fine, have to repay back your amount received, or even with jail time. Don’t risk lying about the CERB!
Is the CERB payment taxable income?
Yes, so make sure you set aside enough for taxes.
When will the CERB payment be deposited?
Within 10 days of applying
Do I need to be laid off to receive the CERB payment?
No, if you are still technically an employee with your company but your hours have been reduced to zero due to the coronavirus, you can still qualify, provided you won’t have income for at least 14 consecutive days.
Should I apply for the CERB payment?
If you meet the criteria outlined above, yes you should.
Can I get the CERB if I’m not a citizen or permanent resident?
Yes, if you reside in Canada and have a valid SIN number. This can include temporary foreign workers or international students.
Can I apply for CERB if I’m getting maternity leave?
Not during mat leave, but if you were expected to go back to work after your mat leave is over but you can’t now due to COVID-19, yes you can apply for CERB payments.
CRA Contact for CERB Questions
To speak with a CRA agent about CERB, call 1-800-959-8281
CERB will provide timely relief for those families financially devastated from COVID-19.
There is also the one-time special GST/HST credit this year that lower-medium income families will receive, which you can read about if you qualify here.