COVID-19: What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

Photo by Sebastiaan Stam (@sebastiaanstam)

With nearly two out of five Canadian households out of work, the impact of the pandemic has left many laid off and struggling to make ends meet. If you have lost income because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide you with temporary income support. The benefit will provide you with $500 a week (~$2000 monthly) for up to 16 weeks. Here’s what you need to know as applications begin to open.

1. You’ll need to apply on a specific date depending on your birth month

The portal for accessing this new benefit will launch on April 6. Applicants will be able to apply for the benefit retroactively to March 15, 2020.

Pending the launch of the portal, individuals who are without work and are eligible for Employment Insurance can continue to apply for Employment Insurance.

2. You can apply regardless of status as long as you reside in Canada and have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)

Other eligibility details include:

  • Resides in Canada, and are at least 15 years old;
  • Have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits:
  • Had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • Are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.

3. You can’t be paid both Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERD)

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, whether or not are eligible for Employment Insurance. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.

However, prior to April 6, individuals who are without work and are eligible for EI can continue to apply for Employment Insurance. If you applied for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.


All of the above was taken directly from the Government of Canada, please be sure to continue to utilize reputable sources throughout the pandemic. More resources are below:

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