Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canadian Government Supports its Citizens During the COVID-19 Pandemic with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Canada has not been immune to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus has caused millions to get sick worldwide, not to mention the many deaths it has caused. Another casualty of the Coronavirus has been the employment of many Canadian citizens. To that end, the government of Canada has sprung into action to provide a safety net for those whose jobs have been lost because of this outbreak. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is their attempt to provide some financial assistance to individuals and families during this difficult time. Since the Coronavirus has been rapid in its encroachment on Canadian society, the CERB was enacted quickly in an attempt to combat its impact. This has also caused there to be many questions surrounding this program. Below is some information about the program and how it can help the people of Canada.

What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The CERB is a program that has been set up by the government of Canada to provide a temporary source of income for workers in Canada whose employment has been stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also set up to assist individuals who qualify for employment insurance benefits or whose benefits have just expired. This was set up to ensure that Canadians who have lost their job because of the Coronavirus will still have the income necessary to meet their basic needs like shelter and food.

How Long has the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Been in Place and Why is it Necessary?

On March 25th, 2020, the CERB was passed by the Canadian government in a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Essentially, it was passed because the Coronavirus had caused massive economic upheaval in the Canadian economy. There was the recognition that, with this many people out of work and having no source of income, that a safety net was needed to make sure that these individuals and families could continue to have their basic needs met. This temporary assistance is set up to help take care of citizens who have been negatively affected by this illness while Canada works to curb its spread. This benefit prevents many Canadian families from going hungry during this tough time.

What is the Difference Between Employment Insurance and Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The CERB program has been set up specifically for individuals that have been impacted by the Coronavirus. It is designed to replace income that was lost because of COVID-19, not supplement it. It has been set up to cater to individuals who are out of work, but wouldn’t qualify for Employment Insurance. The Employment Insurance program has its own requirements that have nothing to do with the Coronavirus. If you became unemployed before March 15th, you should apply for EI benefits. Those who lost their job after March 15th should apply for the CERB program.

Who is Eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Program?

As with any government program, there are requirements an individual must meet in order to qualify for the CERB. Qualifying for the CERB requires that a person meets the following criteria:

  • Live in Canada and are at least 15 years of age
  • You have stopped working because of the Coronavirus, are eligible for EI benefits, or have exhausted your eligibility between the dates of December 29th, 2019 and October 3, 2020.
  • Your employment, or self-employment, resulted in at least $5,000 of income in 2019 or 12 months before you applied.
  • You didn’t voluntarily quit working.
  • Those who apply will not qualify if they have earned more than $1,000 in two weeks of the four-week period for which they are applying.

Are There Income Requirements for Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

While you are receiving CERB benefits, you are still allowed to receive income. There is a limit on the amount of money you can receive. An individual can’t earn any more than $1,000 during the period for which they are receiving funds from this program. The income they receive can be tips, royalties, non-eligible dividends, and honoraria. Any income received because of a pension, student loan, or bursaries will not count against the income limit. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will check this income against tax returns to verify it.

The Different Ways that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Program May Apply to Unemployment

As many people may have guessed, there are several unemployment situations that might be confusing when wondering whether to apply for EI benefits or for the CERB program. Luckily, there is guidance for some of these more confusing situations:

Maternity/Paternity Leave

The March 15th date is very important in this case. If you are an expectant mother and lost your employment before that date, you should apply for EI benefits. Expectant mothers who lost their jobs after that date should apply for the CERB program.


Any student who was working and lost their employment because of this disease, while still meeting the other criteria can still qualify for the CERB program.

Retired Individuals

If your employment was ended due to the outbreak and you are retired, you can still qualify for the CERB program. This applies even if you receive a pension.

People with Disabilities

Many folks with disabilities may wonder if their disability benefits count toward income requirements for the CERB program. They don’t and disabled individuals can qualify provided they meet the other requirements.

Part-Time Workers and Self-Employed Individuals

Part-time workers and self-employed individuals can qualify for the CERB program, provided they meet the other criteria. They will need to carefully examine their income to make sure that they are not receiving over $1000 for two weeks during the four-week period for which they are applying.

How Do I Apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Program?

You can apply online on the Canadian government website ( or over the phone at 1-833-966-2099. Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency are working together to make sure that benefits get to those in need.
How Long is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Estimated to Last?

Currently, the CERB program is expected to take applications for individuals impacted by this illness through the October 3, 2020 period.

Get the Assistance You Need

If your employment has been terminated because of this outbreak and you meet the eligibility criteria, apply for the CERB program today and get the help you need to get your needs met during this crisis.