Government introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses
The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). 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.
The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.
The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, 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.
Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.
Canadians would begin 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.
This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.
“We know that people are worried about their health, their jobs and their financial situations. Our government is doing whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to support workers, families and businesses. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit would make sure that money gets in the hands of workers as quickly as possible to support them in their time of need, and would help businesses keep their employees during this difficult period. Canadians can rest assured that the government stands ready to take any and all necessary actions as we continue to confront these challenging times together.”
– Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
“Through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the Government of Canada would be helping support those Canadians who are unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is during these difficult times that Canadians should not have to choose between protecting their health and continuing to support their families. We recognize this, and are there for them.”
– Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
“The government understands that the outbreak of COVID-19 is having a significant impact on all Canadians. Through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, we would provide much-needed financial support to those who have lost their income because of COVID-19. The Canada Revenue Agency is playing an important role by getting benefit payments to Canadians quickly and efficiently.”
– Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue