Who can get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program has ended.

It was introduced in March 2020 to give money to people who stopped working because of COVID-19. The last day that you could get CERB payments for was October 3, 2020. You could apply for this money until December 2, 2020.

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

About the CERB

The CERB­ gave $500 a week to workers who had to stop working because of COVID-19. This might be because:­

  • You were let go or laid off from your job or your hours had been reduced to zero.
  • You were in quarantine or sick because of COVID-19.
  • You were away from work to care for others who were in quarantine or sick because of COVID-19.
  • You were away from work to care for children or other dependants whose daycare had closed because of COVID-19.

You couldn't qualify if you voluntarily quit your job.

CERB was available to employees, people who are self-employed, contract workers, and parents who were receiving Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits. It was also available to people on EI who had used all of their benefits and were unable to find a job.

You could apply for the CERB either through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Service Canada. You could not apply to both or you would have to repay some of the money you receive.

Payments

Payments were made by direct deposit or cheque. If you're eligible for the CERB, you would have received $500 per week.

If you applied through the CRA, you will be paid $2,000 for every four week period that you apply for.

If you applied through Service Canada, you will be paid $1,000 for every two week period that you apply for. You may receive an initial payment of more than $1,000 to account for the weeks you were eligible for the CERB before you applied.

You could re-apply up to a maximum of 28 weeks. The maximum of 28 weeks was the same whether you applied through the CRA or Service Canada.

Note that CERB payments are taxable income. This means that many people who received CERB will have include this money when they file their taxes. And because the government is not deducting taxes from CERB you may have to pay taxes on it next year.

For more information about how CERB will be taxed, read the question How will getting the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) affect how much income tax I have to pay?

What if I find out later that I don’t qualify?

Because CERB applications were processed very quickly, the government has said that at a later date they will be reviewing applications more closely. And if they decide that you did not qualify for CERB, you may have to pay the money back. The government has suggested that they may use the tax system to sort out incorrect payments next year. The government is not allowed to charge interest on any money you have to pay back.

If you think you've received CERB money when you shouldn't have, read the question I got the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) but did not qualify. What can I do? to learn what you can do.

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