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What is the CERB and how do I collect it?

The Government of Canada launched the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to lessen the financial impact of COVID-19. Providing $500 a week for up to 16 weeks, this is a lifeline for millions of Canadians facing financial strain during these uncertain times. Here’s a quick guide to bring you up to speed on how the CERB works, who is eligible, and how you can apply.

How does the CERB work?

The CERB is a temporary form of support for workers whose income has been hit by COVID-19. It’s available to anyone unable to work as a direct result of the crisis, and it provides up to $2,000 a month for a maximum period of four months.

The CERB has been launched as an addition to the regular benefits system, providing quick payments with the minimum of bureaucracy. This is to help the countless people who have lost if not all, at least a substantial portion, of their income because of COVID-19.

The longer-term aim is to allow businesses to keep hold of their staff without crippling wage expenses so that they’re ready to open their doors quicker once the situation improves and the economy can start to recover.

Who is eligible for the CERB?

As the CERB is an emergency response, so eligibility and claims are more straightforward than for most other benefits. Canadian residents of age 15 or older can apply for it, whether you’re citizens or not, as long as you have a valid Social Insurance Number.

Here are the two conditions:

  1. You need a declared income of $5,000 or more during the past twelve months (or across 2019 as a whole)
  2. You can’t earn more than $1,000 over the period of each four-week claim

The key point is that the loss of income must be directly down to COVID-19. Examples include being laid off temporarily or permanently because of the crisis or being unable to work because of COVID-19 infection or quarantine.

People who’ve been unable to work through caring for a vulnerable person are also eligible, including parents whose childcare facilities or schools have been closed.

Receiving CERB payment

The CERB can be paid by cheque, but direct deposit is quicker and more reliable. To enrol for direct deposit through Coast Capital, go to our CRA Direct Deposit page. Enrol as soon as possible so you receive your CERB payment on time.

How to apply

You can apply for CERB through the Government of Canada website. Follow this link to get started, scroll down to the CERB section, and click on the apply button. You can also apply by phone on the numbers shown in the same section.

You won’t need any proof of income or any other formal documents to apply, only your contact details and Social Insurance Number. However, you’ll need to self-declare that you’re eligible for the benefit, and you may be asked for further documentation at a later date once payments have been made.

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