COVID-19: Federal Government Announces Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Updated March 27, 2020

On the heels of the $107 billion COVID-19 aid package that was passed by Parliament on March 25, 2020, the Government of Canada has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) to support workers and businesses. The CERB would combine the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB is a taxable benefit [1] that would provide $2,000 per month, up to four months, to workers who have lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic [2]. It is important to note that the CERB would apply to employees, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals, in the following circumstances:

  • Job loss;
  • Illness;
  • Quarantine;
  • Workers who are taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
  • Parents who must stay home without pay to care for children (who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures); and
  • Workers who are employed, but are not receiving income due to disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19.

All Canadians, whether they are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) or not, will be able to receive the CERB retroactive to March 15, 2020. The CERB will last until October 3, 2020.

Canadians who are already receiving regular EI or sickness benefits would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply for the CERB. If, however, EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, individuals may apply for the CERB once EI benefits cease. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits may still access normal EI benefits after the 4 months covered by CERB.

Keep in mind that the proposed legislation must pass before Canadians are able to apply for the CERB, but the Minister of Finance has expressed that the Government hopes to provide access to an online portal on or around April 6, 2020. Canadians would then begin receiving payments within 10 days of application.

PooranLaw will continue to monitor the legislation as it develops.

Federal Government News Release:


[1] The CERB will be taxed if and when recipients recover their income.

[2] Workers must be residents of Canada who are at least 15 years of age, and who have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the past 12 months from employment, self-employment, or EI maternity/parental benefits.