The CERB has ended. Will I be able to get EI?
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program has ended December 2, 2020. It was introduced in March 2020 to give money to people who stopped working because of COVID-19.
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.
End of CERB
If you were receiving the CERB through Service Canada on September 27, 2020, then you should have been automatically switched to EI.
If you were receiving the CERB through the CRA, then you 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.
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. People who start EI between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021 can get as much as 50 weeks worth of EI.
This means that you’ll get either 55% of your normal weekly earnings or $500 a week, whichever is the highest.