Do I qualify for CERB?

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The benefit will be sent to Canadian residents, age 15 or older, who’ve lost their source of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers a broad range of people:

  • Workers who have been laid off.

  • Workers who are still employed but had their hours reduced to zero.

  • Contract workers and self-employed people, even though they wouldn’t be covered by traditional EI.

  • People who are sick, ordered into quarantine or taking care of someone sick with COVID-19.

  • People who need to stay home with a dependent while their care facility is closed. That includes parents taking care of their kids while schools and daycares are shut down.

The program has a few other requirements.

You must have a social insurance number and have earned at least $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income or parental leave benefits in 2019 or in the 12-month period prior to the day of your application.

For the first four weeks of the program, you must be (or expect to be) without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days. For the future, you expect you’ll receive no employment income.

You can’t get the benefit if you’re just job hunting as normal, in a way unrelated to the coronavirus, or if you quit your job voluntarily. And if you were eligible for EI before March 15, your claim will be processed through the ordinary EI system rather than CERB.

How much money will I get?

Canadian Dollars
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The benefit is $500 per week, though you’ll receive a single $2,000 payment for each four-week period. CERB can be back-dated to March 15.

The program ends on Oct. 3. If you need to, you can still apply for EI benefits after you have exhausted CERB.

Keep in mind that CERB is taxable, so you’ll have to report it on next year’s tax filing.

How do I apply?

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You can apply for CERB, starting on April 6, in one of two ways:

  • Through your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) MyAccount. If you don’t have an account yet, you can register now or log in via a My Service Canada account.

  • By calling 1-800-959-2019, a toll-free automated service.

You will need to reapply for the CERB every four weeks if your employment situation remains unchanged.

When can I apply?

Due to the anticipated demand, the CRA is asking people to apply on specific days to ease the burden on the system. The day to apply depends on what month you were born in.

When to Apply for CERB
Born in Apply on
January, February or March April 6, or subsequent Mondays
April, May or June April 7, or subsequent Tuesdays
July, August or September April 8, or subsequent Wednesdays
October, November or December April 9, or subsequent Thursdays
Any month Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

When will I get the money?

You’ll be paid faster if you choose direct deposit — within three business days of submitting your application. To ensure your money goes to the right place, double-check that your banking information is up to date.

If you don’t have banking information on file with the CRA, you’ll receive a cheque by mail within 10 business days. But maybe it's time for you to open a savings account, because you could earn up to 2.80% interest on your benefit deposits.

I’ve already applied for EI. Do I need to apply for CERB?

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No. CERB was created to relieve pressure from the EI system due to the unprecedented number of applications received in the last two weeks. You can’t get both at the same time.

If you’re already receiving EI benefits, you’ll continue to get them as normal. You can apply for CERB later if your EI benefits run out before Oct. 3.

If you became eligible for EI benefits on March 15 on later, your application will be moved over to CERB automatically. If you are still sick or unemployed after the 16-week benefit period is up, you can switch back to EI.

No matter how much money you would normally get through EI, you’ll receive exactly $500 per week under CERB.

What other support can I get?

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Canada Child Benefit bonus

In addition to CERB, the federal government is rolling out an extra $2 billion in support for Canadian families.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has announced that the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will pay out an additional $300 per child for the month of May.

Parents who’ve already applied for the CCB automatically qualify for the benefit increase and don’t need to reapply.

Special Goods and Services Tax Credit bonus

The Special Goods and Services Tax Credit is a tax-free benefit for individuals and families of modest income.

There will be a one-time special payment by early May for recipients of the credit. Individuals will get close to $400 on average, while couples will get close to $600.

There is no need to apply for the credit or bonus; if you’re eligible, you’ll receive a cheque automatically.

Extended income tax deadlines

Unless you or your partner is self-employed, you can put off filing your individual tax returns until June 1.

However, you may still want to file now. You could get a return, and taxpayers now have until Sept. 1 to pay any 2019 taxes they owe.

About the Author

Sarah Cunnane

Sarah Cunnane

Staff Writer

Sarah Cunnane is a staff writer at MoneyWise. She is a writing and marketing professional with an Honors Bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Toronto.

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