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I get financial assistance from OW. Can I still get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

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I get financial assistance from OW. Can I still get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?
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Government of Ontario
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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I get financial assistance from OW. Can I still get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?
Reviewed: 
June 19, 2020
Answer

If you get financial assistance from Ontario Works (OW), you can get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), if you qualify for it. The CERB gives people $500 a week for up to 24 weeks.

Income Benefits Chart
Income benefits

Learn about benefits that are available if you need money.

Reporting your extra income

You must report any extra income you get while on OW, including what you earn from a job.

All or part of this other income is deducted or taken from the amount you get from OW. Money you get from the CERB will also be treated this way.

In most cases, there will generally be a delay before deductions are made. So it is important to plan ahead to make sure you have enough money to pay your rent and other expenses when your OW is reduced.

If you started getting OW before March 1, 2020

If you were getting OW before March 1, 2020, the government deducts part of what you get through the CERB from your OW payments.

You can collect $200 a month from the CERB without this affecting what you get from OW. After the first $200, OW takes away 50 cents of every $1.00 you get from the CERB.

For example, if you’re a single person you’ll get about $730 a month from OW. If you also get the $2,000 a month from the CERB, here’s what will happen to your OW payments.

You get to keep $200 from the CERB. For the remaining $1,800, half of this or $900 is taken from your OW payment.

Since $900 is more than you get from OW, you’ll get nothing from OW. But you’ll get $500 a week from the CERB for up to 24 weeks.

If you’re under 18 or an adult attending school

Regardless of when you started getting OW, your CERB payments are not counted as extra income if you’re:

  • under 18, or
  • an adult who’s attending a secondary or high school

If either of these apply to you, you’ll continue to get your full OW payments, plus your payments from the CERB. But you still need to report the money you get from the CERB to your OW worker.

If you started getting OW on or after March 1, 2020

If you started getting OW on or after March 1, 2020, the full amount that you get from the CERB is taken from your OW payments. This means that you’d have to get more than $2,000 in OW payments to keep any of your CERB money. So, you’ll most likely get nothing from OW. But you’ll get $500 a week from the CERB for up to 24 weeks.

Keeping OW health benefits

The government has said that even if your OW payments are reduced to nothing, you’ll still be eligible for OW health benefits.  

Applying for the CERB

For more information about applying for the CERB, read Who can get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and how do I apply?

If you’re getting OW and have applied or want to apply for the CERB, speak to your OW worker if you have questions.

If you need help or legal advice about what to do, contact your local community legal clinic

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