Ottawa announced Wednesday the Canada Emergency Response Benefit intended to quickly get cash to workers who need it and support their employers. Here's a look at how the program is going to work.
What is it?
The federal government is proposing a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's intended to be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
Who is eligible?
The benefit is to cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance. It also applies to workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation.
Who shouldn't apply for the benefit?
If you are currently receiving EI benefits and expect them to continue, don't apply for CERB. If your EI benefits end before Oct. 3, you can apply for CERB when those EI benefits cease, if you are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
What period is covered?
Canadians are to begin receiving their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15 until Oct. 3, 2020.
How do I apply?
The government plans to have an online portal open by April 6. Applicants will also be able at that time to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2020.
The Canadian Press