The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was announced alongside several other programs by the federal government in late March. The CERB represents a taxable benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 16 weeks for workers who are earning no income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility

You are eligible for the CERB if you are a Canadian resident, who is at least 15 years old, with a total income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to applying and you have been out of work for 14 consecutive workdays in any four-week period for reasons related to COVID-19. These include:

  • Layoff due to business slowdown related to COVID-19
  • Unable to work due to contracting COVID-19
  • Unable to work due to caring for a family member that has contracted COVID-19
  • Unable to work due to caring for your child who cannot attend school or daycare due to COVID-19 related closures

Applying

A portal on the Government of Canada website and a direct phone number (no further information has been provided) will go live on April 6th. You can prepare to apply by activating your CRA My Account now and ensuring your direct deposit information is correct to receive the funds in three to five days, or your mailing information is correct to receive a cheque in ten days.

The government has released this chart regarding specific days to apply based on birth month.

If you were born in the month of Apply for CERB on Your best day to apply
January, February or March Mondays April 6
April, May, or June Tuesdays April 7
July, August, or September Wednesdays April 8
October, November, or December Thursdays April 9
Any month Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

Not much is known about what documentation is required to receive the CERB, but comments from the government suggest the program will be administered on a self-attestation basis and individuals may be required to provide documentation subsequently.  Anyone found to be taking advantage of the CERB system will be subject to harsh penalties.

More information on the CERB application can be found here.