Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – Updated on April 17, 2020

 In Employment Law

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which is designed to assist employed and self-employed workers, began receiving applications April 6, 2020.

The CERB provides a taxable benefit of $2,000/month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The benefit is available to Canadians who have lost their jobs, as well as those who have not lost their jobs, but who have lost income because of quarantine, illness, and care giving. The program is available to employees, contract workers and self-employed individuals, regardless of whether the individual would otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

On April 15, 2020, the government also made the CERB available to a greater number of people including seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak as well as workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

Further, in a bid to respond to concerns that some workers may still be working but as a result of COVID-19 have seen their hours and income slashed, the CERB has been expanded to include those people who earned $1000 (before taxes) or less during an eligibility period, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

The portal for accessing CERB benefits is now open.  Eligibility periods are fixed in 4-week periods.  Applicants must re-apply for CERB for multiple 4 week periods to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods).

In an effort to manage the numbers of applications received at any one time the following schedule has been established.

If  you were born in the month of Apply for CERB on
January, February or March Mondays
April, May, or June Tuesdays
July, August, or September Wednesdays
October, November, or December Thursdays
Any month Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

If you are presently receiving Employment Insurance benefits, you will continue to receive those benefits and would only apply for CERB once your Employment Insurance benefits cease. The government has made clear that the benefit is taxable although tax will not be deducted at source.  Recipients will be expected to report the Benefit as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year.

CERB will be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 to September 26, 2020.

This blog post was written by Colleen Hoey, a Partner in the Employment team.  She can be reached at 613-369-0366 or at

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