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The CERB is ending. Will I be able to get EI?

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The CERB is ending. Will I be able to get EI?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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The CERB is ending. Will I be able to get EI?
Reviewed: 
October 13, 2020
Answer

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program is ending. It was introduced in March 2020 to give money to people who stopped working because of COVID-19. The last day that you can get CERB payments for is October 3, 2020. You can apply for this money until December 2, 2020.

To government has introduced two different programs to replace the CERB:

  • Employees will be able to apply to a newly expanded Employment Insurance (EI) system.
  • Self-employed and contract workers, also called "gig workers", and others who don't qualify for EI, can apply for one of the new Canada Recovery Benefits
COVID-19 Benefits
COVID-19 EI Benefits

Learn about new EI rules during COVID-19

End of CERB

If you were receiving the CERB through Service Canada on September 27, 2020, then you should be automatically switched to EI.

If you were receiving the CERB through the CRA, then you will need to apply for EI.

You will also need to apply for EI if you can't work because of COVID-19 after October 3, 2020.

The way to apply for EI has not changed. Read more in How do I apply for EI benefits?

There are 2 types of EI benefits:

  • regular benefits, and
  • special benefits, such as parental or sickness benefits.

Number of insurable hours  

The government has made changes to the number of insurable hours you need to have worked in a year to qualify for regular EI benefits and special EI benefits.

Regular EI benefits

To qualify for regular EI benefits, you normally need to have worked between 420 and 700 insurable hours, depending on the unemployment rate in your region, in the last 52 weeks.

As of September 27, 2020, the government has reduced this to 420 hours for everyone.

And, as part of the changes, you'll get 300 bonus hours the first time you apply for regular EI benefits. This means that you need to have worked only 120 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks to qualify.

The government has said that these bonus hours are "one-time". It's not yet clear what this means. But it might mean that you won't get the bonus hours if you have to apply for EI a second time during COVID-19.

Special EI benefits

To qualify for special EI benefits, such as parental or sickness benefits, you normally need to have worked 600 insurable hours in the last 52 weeks.

As of August 9, 2020, the government changed this to give everyone 480 bonus hours. This means that you only need to have worked 120 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks to qualify.

Amount of EI benefits

Normally, EI gives people only 55% of their normal weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $573 a week. As of September 27, 2020, everyone will get at least $500 a week for between 26 and 45 weeks.

This means that you'll get either 55% of your normal weekly earnings or $500 a week, whichever is the highest.

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