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How to Apply for the CERB:

$2,000/month Canada Emergency Response Benefit

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Apply and Receive Your Money

Last Updated: April 17, 2020

Update (April 15, 2020) – The Government of Canada has expanded the eligibility criteria for the CERB to include a basic income floor for:
  • Canadians who make up to $1,000/month
  • Seasonal workers whose jobs aren’t coming due to COVID-19
  • People who ran out of employment insurance since Jan 1, 2020

The Government of Canada has created a short-term basic income, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), of $2,000/month for up to 4 months for people who lost income from COVID-19 pandemic.

If you lost your job, earn $1,000 or less per month, are a seasonal worker whose work is not coming due to COVID-19, recently ran out of EI, are sick or quarantined, taking care of someone who is sick, a parent staying home without pay to take care of children, a contract worker, or self-employed, and have lost income due to the crisis, the CERB is for you.

In this guide, we will take you step-by-step through how to apply for the CERB and receive your money.

Please note that we are not the Canada Revenue Agency and cannot provide individualized support.

Before You Apply for the CERB

Follow these 2 steps before applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit in order to speed up your application process.

1) Sign up for a My Account through CRA.

This will speed up your application when it opens on April 6, 2020. You can do that on the CRA Website.

2) Sign up for direct deposit.

This way, money can be sent directly to your bank account.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Apply for the CERB Emergency Basic Income

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit portal for applications is now open. You can access it through your My Account at CRA or My Service Canada Account .

CERB Online Portal Application Video Walk-Through on CRA My Account

Step 1: Log into your CRA My Account.

Step 2: Once you’ve logged into My Account, follow the steps in the video below to apply on the CERB Portal.

Apply by Phone

Before you call: To verify your identity, you’ll need

  • your social insurance number (SIN)
  • postal code

If you are calling the CRA on behalf of someone else, you must be an authorized representative.Telephone number: 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041

Telephone Instructions
Select your language preference: English or French.
Follow the prompts to enter your information, including: your SIN, confirmation of your postal code, and the period you are applying for.
Declare that you qualify for the benefit.

You may also get help with applying for CERB with CRA by calling these new toll-free numbers:

Automated help line for common CERB questions:
1-833-966-2099

To speak with an agent about CERB, or CRA My Account:
1-800-959-8281

Who is Eligible for the CERB?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit applies to an extremely broad group of workers in Canada, including full-time employees, part-time employees, contract workers and self-employed people.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit basic income will cover Canadian resident workers who:

  • lost their job
  • saw their income drop to $1,000 or less per month
  • seasonal workers whose jobs aren’t coming because of COVID-19
  • have run out of EI since January 1, 2020
  • are sick or quarantined
  • 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
  • wage-earners, hourly-earners, salary-earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) who lost their income because of COVID-19

It also applies to anyone who was laid off and qualifies for EI. But unlike EI, it also applies to people who don’t, such as freelancers, contractors and people still technically employed but no longer receiving income due to the pandemic.

Are you not eligible for the CERB?

At least 850,000 Canadians who need income support during this crisis will not benefit from the CERB or EI.
Use the link below to call or email your MP in just a few easy clicks and let them know about your concerns.

Call or Email your MP

UBI Works is committed to pursuing a permanent Universal Basic Income for all.

The CERB, while it helps some Canadians, still leave many Canadians who need assistance behind.

See How We Are Fighting for a UBI for You

How do I qualify for the CERB?

You may be eligible for the CERB if you made $5,000 in 2019 or in the past 12 months and earn $1,000 or less in the 4-week period you are applying for.

In order to qualify, you must be resident of Canada who is at least 15 years old, and you must have earned at least $5,000 in employment income, income through self-employment, or maternity/parental leave benefits through EI, for 2019 or in the 12-month period before the day you apply for the CERB.

You may qualify for the CERB if you earn up to $1,000 in the 4-week period that you are applying for.

How much money will I get from the CERB?

Successful applicants of the CERB will receive $2,000/month, for up 4 to months. The CERB emergency basic income is taxable.

How long will the CERB last?

The CERB will provide you with income replacement for up to 4 months.

The benefit will apply retroactively from March 15, 2020 and will run until October 3, 2020. No applications will be accepted past December 2, 2020.

How soon can I receive money from the CERB?

You can expect to receive your CERB payment within 3 to 5 days for direct deposit and within 10 days for a cheque in the mail, after applying.

Unlike Employment Insurance, there is no 1-week waiting period.

How will the CERB be paid?

The CERB basic income will be paid every 4 weeks by direct deposit or by check delivered by letter mail.

You’ll have to log in to the online CERB portal using your My Account at CRA or My Service Canada Account each month and declare that you’re still eligible for the CERB before every monthly CERB payment is made to you.

Can I get the CERB if I was unemployed and looking for work before COVID-19?

If you were unemployed but were actively looking for work before March 15 (the retroactive date the CERB program starts on), you might not be eligible for the CERB.

The CERB applies to employed or self-employed people who stopped or lost work because of COVID-19 and earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or the last 12 months before your CERB application.

Are you not eligible for the CERB?

At least 850,000 Canadians who need income support during this crisis will not benefit from the CERB or EI.
Use the link below to call or email your MP in just a few easy clicks and let them know about your concerns.

Call or Email your MP

What if my job start date was pushed back because of COVID-19?

The CERB applies for employed or self-employed workers who stopped working or those who earn an income of $1,000 or less in a given 4-week application period.

If you are a seasonal worker whose job is not coming due to COVID-19, you may eligible for the CERB.

What if I quit my job to get the CERB?

You will not qualify if you quit voluntarily—by your own choice.

If you were laid off by your employer, either permanently or temporarily, then you could be eligible for the CERB basic income.

Can I receive Employment Insurance (EI) and CERB at the same time?

No, you cannot receive both EI and CERB at the same time.

If you are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of April 6, 2020, you would continue to receive you benefits and should not apply for the CERB. If your EI benefits end, however, you could then apply for the CERB basic income.

Can I receive the CERB if I applied for EI already but have not received a response?

If you have already applied for EI and your application has not yet been processed, you would not need to reapply for the CERB – your application will be rolled over.

Can I get the CERB if I am self-employed?

In order to be eligible to apply for the CERB, you must have made at least $5,000 through self-employment income in 2019 or in the past 12 months.

You are eligible for the CERB if you earn $1,000 or less in any given 4-week period for which you are applying.

UBI Works is committed to pursuing a permanent Universal Basic Income for all.

The CERB, while it helps some Canadians, still leave many Canadians who need assistance behind.

See How We Are Fighting for a UBI for You

Can I get the CERB if I am staying home without pay?

If you did not make at least $5,000 in income or EI maternity/parental benefits in 2019 or in the past 12 months, you are not eligible to apply for the CERB.

Can I get the CERB if I still have a job?

If you earn $1,000 or less in a given 4-week period for which you are applying for the CERB, you may be eligible.

If your employer has lost revenue due to the crisis, they can apply for the temporary wage subsidy for employers announced by the Government of Canada. More details here.

Can I receive the CERB if I already receive maternity or parental benefits?

If you are receiving EI maternity or parental benefits as of March 15, 2020, you will continue to receive your maternity or parental benefits and should not apply for the CERB.

If your EI maternity or parental benefits end before October 3, 2020, however, you could then apply for the CERB basic income.

Note: EI maternity and parental benefits count towards the $5,000 required to qualify for the CERB basic income.

Can students or recent graduates receive the CERB?

If you are student or recent graduate who made at least $5,000 from income or EI maternity/parental benefits in 2019 or in the past 12 months, you may be eligible for the CERB if you earn $1,000 or less in a given 4-week period for which you are applying.

If you did not work in the past year, regardless of whether or not you’re a student, you will not qualify.

Can I get the CERB if I’m not a citizen or permanent resident?

To be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you must reside in Canada and have a valid Social Insurance Number.

Workers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents – including temporary foreign workers and international students – may be eligible to receive the Benefit if they meet the other eligibility requirements.

Can I receive a wage subsidy from my employer and the CERB at the same time?

If you are getting a wage subsidy from your employer, you can’t collect the CERB. You will not be able to receive both.

What happens after 4 months of the CERB?

The CERB will run for up to 4 months between March 15 and October 3, 2020.
After this time, CERB emergency basic income payments will stop.

UBI Works is committed to pursuing a permanent Universal Basic Income for all.

The CERB, while it helps some Canadians, still leave many Canadians who need assistance behind.

See How We Are Fighting for a UBI for You

UBI Works is a Canadian non-profit organization with the goal of making Universal Basic Income a permanent reality for all Canadians.

On March 16, 2020, UBI Works launched a petition calling for an emergency UBI in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The petition garnered over 30,000 signatures across all 338 federal ridings, with each signer emailing their Member of Parliament to call for a UBI.

The Government of Canada responded by announcing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a short-term basic income for Canadians who lost income due to COVID-19, in addition to a one-time GST credit of $400 per individual ($600 per couple) for low- and moderate-income Canadians, as well as a $300 boost to the Canada Child Benefit basic income.

We are aware that these measures, while they help many Canadians, still leave many others out. From day one, the CERB left out more than 850,000 Canadians, 1/3 of the unemployed, who had no income support from either EI or the CERB. The government expanded the eligibility criteria after weeks of constant pressure from Canadians to move towards a universal basic income. This pandemic has shown us that Canadians are not resilient enough in a time of crisis. Many of us who lost work from this crisis may find ourselves not hired back, or going back to lower paying work.

An estimated 15% of the over 15 million working Canadians—more than 2 million Canadians in total—will soon find themselves without work. Yet, research shows that 42% of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being automated away—using existing technology—over the next 10-20 years.

If we already had a universal basic income, no Canadian would have fallen through the cracks during this crisis. Millions of Canadians would not have needed to wait weeks, perhaps months, before getting the help they needed.

In 2018, UBI Works led a group of over 120 Canadian CEOs, representing over $2.3 billion in annual revenue, to sign a statement in support of basic income.
Learn more about CEOs for Basic Income

UBI Works is committed to pursuing a universal and unconditional basic income for all Canadians, so that nobody will be left behind.

Join our mailing list and stay up-to-date on how we are working to make Universal Basic Income a reality in Canada.

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Our Mission

To shift the conversation about basic income to recognize it as an economic need and economic opportunity, with the goal of seeing UBI implemented in Canada.

Our Why

We want a Canada where everyone can pursue their potential and not be held back by basic material constraints or unsafe environments.

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