Canada: Eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Expanded

Updated June 16, 2020: During his daily press briefing on June 16, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the federal government will be extending the CERB eligibility period by eight weeks. The CERB was originally slated to last 16 weeks starting in mid-March, meaning that people who signed up for it immediately would soon run out of benefits. With the extension, those who would soon have run out will have until the end of the summer to keep claiming the CERB.

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On March 25, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) would be available to support workers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The CERB, which we wrote about here, is a taxable benefit of $2,000 every four weeks for up to four months for eligible workers who have lost their income due to the COVID-19 crisis.  As announced by the government, the CERB is available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
  • Who have not quit their job voluntarily.

On April 15, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that to help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the eligibility rules will be expanded as follows:

  • People will be allowed to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB;
  • CERB will be extended to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and cannot conduct their usual seasonal work because of the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • CERB will be extended to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the federal government indicated that it will work with the provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 per month (e.g., those on the front line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, those providing essential retail services).  The details of how this measure will be applied and delivered will be released shortly.

We will be following developments as they occur and update you when appropriate.     

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.