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Canada Expanding Access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Ensuring that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit helps those who need it

The government established the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to support workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This taxable benefit provides $2,000 every four weeks for up to four months to workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CERB covers 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 also applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and are unable to work due to COVID-19.

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, also qualify for the CERB. This will 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 CERB is available to workers who meet all of the following conditions:

  • live in Canada and are at least 15 years old
  • stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
  • have not voluntarily quit their job
  • had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.

To help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the government is announcing changes to the eligibility rules to:

  • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
  • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

These changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020 . More details will be posted on the portal shortly.

A new wage boost for essential workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed particular demands on low-income workers in certain sectors, including those on the front-line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, or providing essential retail services to Canadians.

With today’s announcement, the Government of Canada will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top up to the salaries of low-income essential workers that the provinces and territories have deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19.

The Government of Canada will cover a portion of the cost of providing temporary financial support to these low-income workers, thereby helping to support employers in keeping their workers on staff, while also ensuring fairness.

Through this new transfer, provinces and territories will be able to provide their low-income essential workers (those who earn less than $2,500 per month), with a top up. This will provide a much needed boost to those on the front-line in hospitals, those caring for seniors in long-term care facilities, those working so hard to make sure that there that is food on our shelves and tables, and others. We continue to work with provinces and territories on the delivery of this measure and further details will be released shortly.

Quebec and British Columbia have already implemented direct wage support for low-income workers in the essential service sectors. With today’s announcement, the federal government will be sharing the cost of this wage support through the new transfer to these provinces.

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