NEW Canada Emergency Response Benefit: Do I qualify?
UPDATED April 1, 2020: We are receiving a very high number of calls, emails, and messages related to the new CERB and our article below. We have compiled the most frequently asked questions into a new post, which you can read by clicking here, which is one of the most comprehensive CERB guides to date.
The Federal Government announced it is repackaging the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit into a single and simpler Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB"), and announced boosted funding.
What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB")?
The federal government has made changes to the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. They are being rolled into one single Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Here’s a quote from the Government’s press release:
“This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.”
According to Section 6 of the newly-passed Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act, the CERB would cover a "worker, whether employed or self employed, [who] ceases working for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment." According to the Federal Government's News Release, this would cover Canadians who:
Have lost their job
Are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, and cannot work
Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children
Workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19. This is designed to help businesses keep their employees, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as possible.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act was passed by the House of Commons yesterday, and received ratification by the Senate this afternoon. Upon receiving Royal Assent, it will become law (update: the Act received Royal Assent on March 27, 2020).
Under s. 6(1)(b)(ii) of the legislation, workers will not be entitled to receive CERB if they are receiving EI benefits.
Do I apply for CERB or for Employment Insurance (EI)?
For hundreds of thousands of Canadians, the wait time for EI is too long. This was explicitly addressed in Prime Minister Trudeau's announcement this morning. Consequently, the Government's press release states:
"All Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need."
The Government says payments for CERB will begin "within 10 days" after your application is submitted. Obviously, this is significantly quicker than EI.
However, there are two important considerations. First, as noted above, those who are receiving EI are not eligible for CERB. Under Section 12 of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act you may be required to "repay the amount of the payment or the excess amount, as soon as is feasible."
Second, depending on your previous income level and insurable hours, you may be entitled to receive more if you go through EI.
If you are already receiving EI benefits (either regular or sickness benefits) you will continue to receive those benefits and should not apply for CERB. If your current EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, you could apply for the CERB once your EI benefits cease, but only if you are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.
How do I apply for CERB?
The portal for accessing the CERB application will be "available in early April." Consequently, the application portal is not yet available. We have read reports from news organizations that there is a tentative target delivery date of April 6, although our office has not been able to confirm that through government releases.
Canadians can expect to "receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020."
However, if you have lost your job and are eligible for EI, you can still apply for EI right now by clicking here.
How is CERB different from EI, the Emergency Care Benefit, or the Emergency Support benefit?
The short answer is that CERB replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit. EI remains in place for those that qualify.
Last week the Federal Government announced it was tabling legislation to receive funding to create two emergency benefits: The Emergency Care Benefit, and the Emergency Support Benefit. One was initially designed to help individuals who lost income because they had to self isolate, quarantine, or stay home with kids, while the other was designed for those individuals who lost their income as a result of business closures. Both of these benefits were meant to "fill the gap" for those individuals that did not qualify for EI.
The idea was that the Emergency Care Benefit was going to support those who could not qualify for EI Sick Benefits; the Emergency Support Benefit was meant to support those who could not qualify for Regular EI benefits. To understand the differences between sick and regular benefits, check out this Article.
This morning (March 25), Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the government was merging these two emergency benefits into a single Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and expanded its scope to cover individuals who would otherwise qualify for EI.
We are closely monitoring this ever-shifting legal landscape. Stay tuned as we learn more.
CLP Law remains available to answer any questions or concerns. Feel free to reach out to us by logging in and commenting below, via email, phone, or through our website's online contact form.
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