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A New Federal Benefit for Workers Affected by COVID-19 has been Announced: The Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Williams HR Law

On March 25, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new federal benefit for workers who have lost their income as a result of COVID-19, called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the “CERB”). The CERB will provide affected workers with $2,000 per month for up to four months, payable every 4 weeks, from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

The CERB will replace the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit that were announced last week, in order to streamline the application process for Canadians affected by COVID-19. According to the government, the application portal for the CERB will be available in early April.

In its official news release, the government stated that the CERB will be available to Canadians who:

  • lost their jobs, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19; and
  • 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 is available to wage earners, contract workers, and self-employed individuals who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (“EI”) benefits. Further, workers who are still employed but are not receiving employment income because of COVID-19 will qualify for the CERB.

Although the government has stated that workers will be eligible for the CERB regardless of whether they are eligible for EI, it also stated that workers who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of March 25, 2020 should not apply for the CERB while they continue receiving EI benefits. This suggests that workers who are currently receiving EI benefits will not be eligible for the CERB until their EI benefits cease.

Nonetheless, workers who are already receiving EI benefits, but who will stop receiving them before October 3, 2020, will be eligible for the CERB if they still cannot return to work because of COVID-19 once their EI benefits cease. Similarly, workers who receive the CERB will still be eligible to receive EI benefits after the 16-week period covered by the CERB ends if they are still unemployed at that time.

We will provide updates regarding the CERB as they become available.

This blog is provided as information and a summary of workplace legal issues. This information is not intended as legal advice.