Canada Passes Emergency Response Act: Details On New Benefit for Workers

Published: March 26, 2020

After an overnight session, the Canadian Parliament has passed the new COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, ensuring that Canada has the tools and flexibility to respond quickly to the rising challenges being posed by the COVID-19 virus.

The Act includes the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which will provide $2000 a month for the next 4 months to workers who lose their income as a result of COVID-19.

This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose income as a result of the pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, 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 CERB would apply 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. For businesses, this will keep their employees as they navigate the crisis, while preserving the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today will continue to receive benefits and need not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they can apply then once their benefits cease.  This is If they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.

Canadian members who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed  need not reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits will 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 would be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

Canadian members 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.