Laid off? How to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

By Audrey Carleton   

General Government benefits Canada Emergency Response Benefit EI Feds Trudeau

Offers a monthly $2,000 payment for a period of up to 16 weeks for those who wouldn't otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

OTTAWA — With more than two in five households out of work, nearly every Canadian has taken a financial hit because of COVID-19, and those who haven’t are living in fear of the possibility that they soon might.

The saving grace, says Shannon Lee Simmons, founder and certified financial planner at the New School of Finance in Toronto, is the newly announced Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

CERB offers a monthly $2,000 payment for a period of up to 16 weeks for those who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance. Though the regulations around who’s eligible for EI are opaque, as a general rule, EI is designated for Canadians who’ve lost their job through no fault of their own (those who believe they might be but aren’t sure are typically encouraged to apply anyway).

The criteria for CERB qualification are much broader. Any Canadian who has ceased working for a 14-day period due to COVID-19 is eligible. That includes wage earners, contract workers, or self-employed individuals; those who’ve had to stay home without pay to self-isolate or care for loved ones; and anyone else who hasn’t been permanently laid off but has stopped receiving pay cheques.


The CERB application portal is slated to open on April 6, while those who are eligible for EI can currently apply on the Governmentof Canada website.

Employees and owners of small businesses and non-profit organizations should also soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief following the release of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, a federal benefit designed to help entrepreneurs cover up to 75% of wages and keep their employees on payroll.



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