Canada: Federal Government Announces Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Extension, Changes to Employment Insurance Program, and New Income Support Benefits

To help Canadians through the next phase of recovery, on August 20, 2020, Canada’s federal government announced that it would transition those receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to a more flexible and generous Employment Insurance (EI) program, provided they qualify.  In connection with this decision, the federal government announced additional changes to its programs.


In preparation for transitioning Canadians to the EI program, the CERB will be extended for four weeks to a 28-week maximum, ending on September 26, 2020.

Changes to the EI Program

Effective September 27, 2020, those receiving EI will be eligible for a taxable benefit rate of $400 per week, or $240 per week for extended parental benefits.  Regular benefits will be accessible for a minimum duration of 26 weeks.  EI insurance premium rates will be frozen for two years.    

To help Canadians qualify for EI benefits, under the new EI program:

  • Those claiming regular and work-sharing benefits who have 120 hours of insurable work or more, will be provided a temporary, one-time credit of 300 insurable hours, and
  • Those claiming EI special benefits, including maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and family caregiver benefits, will be provided a temporary, one-time credit of 480 insurable hours.

Effective August 9, 2020, the government established a minimum unemployment rate for the EI program of 13.1% across Canada.

Residents of Quebec

Residents of Quebec will not be eligible for measures relating to maternity and parental benefits because Quebec provides maternity, paternity, parental and adoption benefits through the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.  However, residents of Quebec will be eligible for measures relating to EI regular, sickness, family caregiver, and compassionate care benefits, as well as the new income support benefits. 

Three New Income Support Benefits

The government will introduce new legislation to support the implementation of the following benefits, which will be in effect for one year following the end of CERB payments. Individuals can apply for these benefits through the Canada Revenue Agency.

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The CRB will provide $400 per week for up to 26 weeks to:

  • Self-employed workers, or
  • Workers who are not eligible for EI, still require income support, and are available and looking for work.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The CRSB will provide $500 per week for up to two weeks, to workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The CRCB will provide $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for:

  • A child under age 12 due to the closures of schools or daycares because of COVID-19.
  • A family member with a disability or a dependent because their day program or care facility is closed due to COVID-19.
  • A child, a family member with a disability, or a dependent who is not attending school, daycare, or other care facilities under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high-risk if they contract COVID-19.

In making this announcement, the federal government’s aim is to provide continued support to Canadians whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the country enters its next phase of recovery.  

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.