COVID-19: Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Insights
| 3/27/2020

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) is a $24 billion economic measure announced by the Federal Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible individuals can apply for the CERB starting April 6 through an online portal. Below we have provided more details about the benefit:

What is the CERB?
  • You may apply for the CERB for any four-week period falling within March 15 and October 3, 2020. Applications after December 2, 2020, will not be accepted.
  • You may receive the CERB for a maximum of 28 weeks, but you must re-apply for it every four weeks.
  • The CERB program opened for applicants on April 6.
  • The final four-week extension of the CERB will have it expire at the end of September. At this time the new proposed Federal Recovery Benefits will be in place. Learn more on these new benefits here
Do I Qualify for CERB?
  • You must be a Canadian resident aged 15 and older.
  • You must have earned at least $5,000 of total income from employment, self-employment, and/or certain benefits in 2019 or in the 12-month period leading up to your application.*
  • You must have ceased to work for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four week period that you are applying for. This may apply if you are still employed but not receiving income because of disruptions to your work situation due to COVID-19.
  • You may still be working but earning $1,000 or less per a month.
  • During the period that you ceased working, you must not receive any employment income, self-employment income, unemployment benefits, or benefits under a provincial plan because of pregnancy or in respect of the care of new-born or adopted children.
  • You have exhausted all of your EI benefits and are unable to return to work or find new work due to COVID-19.
  • You are a seasonal worker who has exhausted your EI benefits and are expecting an upcoming seasonal job that will not be offered due to COVID-19.

*The income of at least $5,000 may be from any or a combination of the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program, and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.

Who Does Not Qualify for the CERB?

  • You will not qualify for the CERB if you quit your employment voluntarily.
  • If you have not stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.
How Do I Apply?

Applications for the CERB will begin the week of Monday, April 6, 2020.

To manage the influx of applications, the CRA has created a schedule for applying based on the month of your birth date. The Government asks Canadians to abide by the following application schedule, organized by the month you were born in.

If you have a birthday in:

January, February, March Apply on Mondays (April 6) 
April, May, June                                                   Apply on Tuesdays (April 7) 
July, August, September Apply on Wednesdays (April 8) 
October, November, December  Apply on Thursdays (April 9) 
Any Month Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays 

There are two ways to apply:

  • Over the phone with an automated phone service

The CRA will issue payments by direct deposit or cheque, based on the payment method they have on file for you.

Both the online and telephone services are available 21 hours a day, seven days a week. Both services are closed from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. (Eastern time) for maintenance.

Apply Online

You will need a CRA My Account to apply.

Do you have a CRA My Account?

Yes - but I forget my CRA user ID or password

You can recover them by going to My Account, selecting ‘CRA Login’, and selecting 'Forgot your user ID' or 'Forgot your password'.

For 'Forgot your user ID' you will need:

  • Your SIN
  • Your date of birth
  • Your copy of this year's or last year's assessed individual tax return
  • Your answers to the security questions you set up during registration

For 'Forgot your password' you will need to answer the security questions you set up during registration.

Update your CRA My Account username/password

Yes - but I'm locked out

As there are currently fewer call agents available to assist due to COVID-19, the quickest way for you to apply for the CERB at this time would be to do so via the CRA’s automated telephone service (see below “Applying by Phone”).

No - but I have a My Service Canada Account

Since you have a My Service Canada Account, you do not need to register for a CRA My Account.

After you sign in to My Service Canada Account:

  1. Look for the link to "Switch to Canada Revenue Agency" and then "I agree" on the Registration and authentication page. This transfers you to CRA My Account.
  2. Update your address and direct deposit with CRA (CRA does not have your personal information from your My Service Canada Account)
  3. You can then complete the application when it becomes available on April 6.

Sign in to My Service Canada Account

No - I don't have either

Register for a CRA My Account to apply for the CERB

Applying on Your Instructed Date

Once you have your CRA My Account set-up, on your instructed date of application (see chart above), you will:

  1. Sign in to your CRA My Account
  2. Go to COVID-19: Canada Emergency Response Benefit in the alert banner at the top of the page
  3. Select the period you want to apply for
  4. Declare that you qualify for the benefit
  5. Confirm the right payment information is on file
Apply by Phone

To verify your identity, you'll need:

  • your social insurance number (SIN)
  • postal code

If you are calling the CRA on behalf of someone else, you must be an authorized representative

On your instructed date of application (see chart above), you will call 1-800-959-2019. You will be asked for your SIN, confirmation of your postal code, and the period you are applying for. 

When Will I Receive My Payment

Payments will be delivered by direct deposit or by cheque, depending on which option you choose.

If you select to be paid by direct deposit you should receive your payment within three to five days after the submission of your application.

If you select to be paid by cheque you can expect to receive your payment within 10 days after the submission of your application. 

If you need to update your direct deposit and mailing information sign in to your My CRA Account.

After you Apply

If you are eligible for the CERB, you can expect $2,000 ($500 per week) for a four-week period.

It is a single payment for a four-week period.

If your situation continues, you can re-apply for a payment for multiple four-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (four periods)

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