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Who can get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and how do I apply?

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Who can get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and how do I apply?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Government of Ontario
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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Who can get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and how do I apply?
Reviewed: 
October 6, 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:

About the CERB

The CERB­ gives up to $500 a week to workers who have stopped working because of COVID-19. This might be because:­

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

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

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

You can apply for CERB either through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or Service Canada. You must not apply to both or you may have to repay some of the money you receive. To find out whether you should apply through CRA or Service Canada, answer these questions. The eligibility requirements are slightly different.

If you have questions about whether you're eligible for the CERB, you can contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) at 1-833-966-2099, or Service Canada at 1-833-699-0299.

What you need to apply

To apply, you need all of the following:

If you're not able to create an online account, you can call 1-800-959-2019. 

If you apply for the CERB through the CRA, you apply for 4 weeks at a time. If you apply through Service Canada, you apply for 2 weeks at a time.

In both cases you can apply to cover time that starts as early as March 15, 2020, and as late as October 3, 2020. In both cases you can receive a maximum of 28 weeks of CERB payments. The latest that anyone can apply is December 2, 2020.

Payments

Payments can be made by direct deposit or cheque. If you're eligible for the CERB, you will get $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.

If your situation continues, you can re-apply up to a maximum of 28 weeks. The maximum of 28 weeks is the same whether you apply through the CRA or Service Canada. To continue receiving benefits you will need to reapply or recertify.

Note that CERB payments are taxable income. This means that many people who are receiving 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.

This means that you should not apply for the CERB if you do not believe you qualify. And, 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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