Backgrounder: Canada Emergency Response Benefit


Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides temporary emergency income support to workers who have stopped working and are without employment or self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit announced on March 18, 2020.


The CERB will be available to workers:

  • residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • who have stopped working because of COVID-19;
  • who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.  For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.

The Benefit is also available to workers who, after March 15, are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.

The income of at least $5,000 may be from any or a combination of the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.

The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19.  If you have not stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.

Application process

  • Applications for the CERB will open on April 6, 2020 at

Applicants will be asked simple questions that help direct them to one of two service options:

  • Canadians who would generally be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through Service Canada through Appliweb; or
  • Canadians who would generally not be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through the CRA’s MyAccount or CRA’s automated toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019.

Canadians calling the toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019 will be connected to the CRA’s automated telephone system.  This is a dedicated line for CERB applications.

Applicants will need to affirm that they meet the eligibility criteria and information that individuals provide during the application process may be verified at a later time.

The benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. You can apply no later than December 2, 2020.

Applying online

Canadians can get ready to apply for the CERB by signing up to My Account or My Service Canada Account. They should also make sure their direct deposit and mailing information is up to date with the CRA.


The CERB will be paid in blocks of four weeks in the amount of $2,000, which is equivalent to $500 per week.  If an individual’s situation continues, they can re-apply for a payment for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods).

Processing time

Once the application process opens as of April 6, 2020, Canadians can expect to receive payments within three to five business days through direct deposit or within 10 business days by cheque.

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