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Trudeau announces new Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)


OTTAWA, ON., March 25. 2020 – Today, in front of Rideau Cottage where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is self-isolating, the newly agreed upon Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was announced. Trudeau discussed all of the details of the CERB which will provide $2000 per month, for up to 4 months, for Canadians who lose income.

Canadians earning a minimum of $5,000 in 2019 can apply for the CERB starting April 6th and should receive payment backdated to March 15th within 10 days of applying.

The Government of Canada is introducing the benefit to expedite the financial support process as it struggles to cope with an overwhelming volume of Employment Insurance claims. CERB has been initiated to merge the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit into one single window and to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Who can apply for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

The CERB covers Canadian wage earners who have lost their jobs, 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 new CERB applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB.

To qualify, applicants must have had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day they make the application.

According to a statement by CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees), if you have already applied for EI, you do not need to also apply for this new benefit, your claim will be automatically moved over to the CERB and you will receive the 16-week benefit.

“We know that people are worried about their health, their jobs and their financial situations,” says Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance. “Our government is doing whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to support workers, families and businesses. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit would make sure that money gets in the hands of workers as quickly as possible to support them in their time of need, and would help businesses keep their employees during this difficult period. Canadians can rest assured that the government stands ready to take any and all necessary actions as we continue to confront these challenging times together.”

The idea is that this would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.

The statement from the Government of Canada says that the EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume (of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

Canadians already receiving EI should not apply to the CERB unless their EI ends before Oct. 3, 2020

But Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today will continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. 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.

The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in April 6. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

How to apply for CERB

According to CUPE you can apply in one of these three ways:

  • by accessing it on your CRA MyAccount secure portal;
  • by accessing it from your secure My Service Canada Account; or
  • by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.

“If you’ve already applied for EI you do not need to reapply for the CERB,” states CUPE. “Your claim will be automatically moved over to the CERB, and benefits paid from this program first. If needed, you can use your hours to apply for EI benefits after October 3, 2020.”

Canadians will begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB will be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020. After October 3, if you are still sick or unemployed you will still be about to access your normal EI benefits if you have enough insurable hours.

by Terry Lankstead

Find more stories at totimes.ca and mtltimes.ca

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