The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the "CERB") is now available for residents of the City of Kawartha Lakes who qualify for this financial support.
Here is your need-to-know information:
WHAT IS CERB?
The CERB provides $2,000 a month for up to four months to individuals who have ceased working due to COVID-19.
By contrast, EI benefits are 55% of normal weekly earnings, up to a maximum of $573 per week.
WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE?
The online portal to apply for CERB is now available, as of April 6, 2020.
The Federal Government has recently indicated the benefit may be paid out within four to five days, but has committed to making CERB payments within 10 days of application.
The CERB is paid every four weeks and available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
As of April 6, 2020, those who sign up to receive the CERB by direct deposit should receive the first CERB payment within 3-5 days of their application.
For those who choose to receive the benefit by mail, payment should be received within 10 days of their application.
You must re-apply and confirm your eligibility for the CERB every four weeks.
The maximum CERB entitlement is up to 16 weeks.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
The CERB is available to individuals aged 15 or over who:
- had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or the 12 months preceding their application for the CERB;
- cease working for reasons related to COVID-19; and
- receive no income for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period for which the CERB is claimed, regardless of whether they are EI-eligible or not.
This includes residents in the City of Kawartha Lakes who are:
- unemployed due to termination of employment;
- taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
- working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures;
- still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19; and
- contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for EI.
- If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for CERB, whether or not you are eligible for EI. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
- There is now only a single portal to assist you with the application process.
An employee who quits voluntarily is not eligible for the CERB.
If you are not a Canadian citizen, to be eligible for the CERB, you must reside in Canada and have a valid SIN. Employees who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, including temporary foreign workers and international students, may be eligible to receive the CERB if they meet the other eligibility requirements.
DO I HAVE TO BE LAID OFF FROM MY JOB TO APPLY FOR CERB?
- no, an employee is eligible for the CERB even if they continue a relationship with the employer (i.e., you have not been laid off);
- you must have stopped working as a result of COVID-19, and be without employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period; and
- you can also apply for the CERB if you are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits.
DO I APPLY FOR CERB OR EI?
The CERB is available to eligible individuals, whether they qualify for EI or not.
The Federal Government has indicated that:
- individuals who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply for the CERB;
- individuals who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to re-apply. It is not clear whether this means that the EI applications already in the system will continue to be processed in the normal course or be automatically "converted" into CERB applications; and
- individuals whose EI benefits cease before October 3, 2020 could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.
It is not clear whether the CERB will replace EI entirely during the period of March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020, as the Federal Government's announcement seems to suggest that individuals can continue to apply for EI.
If you became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
You can still apply to EI for other benefits, including maternity, parental, caregiving, fishing and work-sharing.
WHAT IF MY CLAIM FOR IE HAS NOT YET BEEN PROCESSED?
- do not reapply for the CERB;
- if you became eligible for EI prior to March 15, 2020, your claim will be processed under the pre-existing EI rules; and
- if you became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on or after March 15th, your claim will be automatically processed through the CERB.
WHAT IF I MAKE OTHER INCOME WHILE RECEIVING THE CERB?
To be eligible, you must have stopped working as a result of COVID-19 and be without employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period (i.e., March 15 - April 11).
The next CERB cycle begins April 11.
After that time, you must expect to have no employment income.
If you continue to receive non-employment income, such as from investments, rental income, etc., you continue to be eligible for the CERB.
CAN I GET A TOP-UP FROM MY EMPLOYER, TOO?
No, at least not for now.
Individuals are eligible for the CERB if they do not receive income from employment or self-employment during the days on which they have ceased working. It remains to be seen if the Federal Government will introduce regulations that would allow individuals to receive top-up benefits from their employers without eliminating or reducing the CERB, similar to the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Program for EI.
IF EI WILL PAY ME MORE AND I CAN GET IT, WILL I GET THE HIGHER EI AMOUNT (MORE THAN $500 WEEKLY)?
You will be paid the CERB amount, even if you may be eligible for more through EI regular or sickness benefits.
If you apply for the CERB, you will receive $500 per week, regardless of what you may have been eligible to receive through Employment Insurance.
If you believe you may be eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits, you retain that eligibility to receive EI after you stop receiving the CERB, and the period that you received the CERB does not impact your EI entitlement.
WHAT IF I AM A STUDENT?
Unfortunately, the CERB is only available to those who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19.
If you are seeking employ, but have not stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the CERB.
If you are a student who had a job last year and were planning on working this summer, you do not qualify for the benefit.
IS IT TAXABLE?
Yes, at least for now, but deductions will not be made at source.
Therefore, individuals will receive the entire $2,000 every four weeks.
The $2,000 benefit will be paid in blocks of four weeks (i.e., equivalent to $500 weekly).
The CERB is currently available for a maximum 16 weeks, but that may be extended.
You will have to report the benefit as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year.
WHERE AND HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE CERB?
- if you are registered, you can apply for CERB through your MyAccount portal on the Canada Revenue Agency Web site here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-individuals/account-individuals.html;
- if you are not registered, applications for the CERB are open today, April 6, 2020 here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html#how;
- If you do not have online access, call the toll-free number 1-800-959-2019;
- due to anticipated volume, the CRA requires that those with birthdays between January and March to apply on Monday; April to June on Thursdays; July to September on Wednesdays and October to December on Thursdays.
- anyone can apply on Fridays and weekends; and
- the online portal will be closed from 3am to 6am everyday for site maintenance.