On March 25th, the Government of Canada announced additional support for workers through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

The Government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which is a replacement of both the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit previously announced on March 18th.  This benefit provides support for up to 16 weeks for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The CERB is a fixed (not income-tested) benefit of $2,000 per month available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
Who is eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The new CERB covers individuals 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 closures.  The benefit is available to individuals who are considered “workers”, defined as:

A person who is at least 15 years of age, is a resident in Canada and who in 2019 (or in the twelve months before applying) had income of at least $5,000 from either:employment
EI benefits (maternity leave or parental leave benefits).
If you are considered a worker, you will be eligible for CERB if:

(a) the worker, whether employed or self-employed, 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; and

(b) in respect of the consecutive days on which they have ceased working, they do not receive:income from employment of self-employment
certain benefits under the Employment Insurance Act
any other income that is prescribed by regulation
Workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation would also qualify for the CERB.
An employed worker would not be eligible if they quit their job voluntarily.
How to apply?

You will be able to apply in one of these three ways:

by accessing it on your CRA MyAccount secure portal;
by accessing it from your secure My Service Canada Account; or
by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.
The portal for accessing the application for CERB will not be available until April 6.

We encourage you to set up your CRA MyAccount (if not set up already) as soon as possible if you are eligible and plan on applying for the CERB.  You can access the registration page by clicking HERE.  Please note that you will need a copy of your 2018 T1 personal tax return as you will be required to enter certain line numbers from your tax return to complete the registration process. (IMPORTANT NOTE TO OUR CLIENTS: You have already been provided with a copy of your 2018 personal tax return, either electronically or in paper).  Consider signing up for direct deposit as well to expedite receipt of any government payments.
Payments should be issued within 10 days of application.  The CERB will be considered a taxable benefit.
What about people already receiving EI?

If you are already receiving EI (regular or sickness benefits) as of March 25th and continue to receive benefits, you should not apply to receive CERB.  If your benefits end before October 3, 2020, you can then apply for the CERB once the EI benefits cease, if you are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.

What if I’ve already been laid off and applied for EI?

If you have already applied for EI, you do not need to reapply for the CERB. Your claim will be automatically moved over to the CERB and benefits will be paid from the CERB first.

Examples of situations where the criteria would be met are:

workers who must stop working due to COVID-19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support
workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work
working parents who must stay home without pay or care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school or daycare closures
We will continue to provide updates on Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan as soon as they become available.

Should you have any questions about these or other matters, please contact your Sabounji LLP advisor.