Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial assistance for newcomers, temporary residents and refugees

Canada is helping people who face financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you live in Canada, even temporarily, there may be support for you.

Some of the information on this page is available in multiple languages.

On this page:

Canada Child Benefit

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) deliver this benefit jointly. You can apply through one or the other, but not both. To help you determine if you should apply through Service Canada or the CRA, visit the Canada Emergency Response Benefit webpage.

If you have recently applied for Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits, do not re-apply. Your application will automatically be assessed to determine if you are eligible for the CERB.

A medical certificate is no longer required for EI claims beginning March 15, 2020 or later.

If you apply for the CERB through Service Canada, you will receive a $2000 initial payment. You will then be paid $1000 every two weeks based on the biweekly reports you submit. If you choose to only report every four weeks, you will be paid $2000 based on the reports you submit. You will be paid as of the first week of your claim.

Apply as soon as possible after you stop working. Don’t wait for your record of employment.

If you have a new Regular or Sickness EI claim starting March 15, 2020 or after, your benefits will be delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

For information on EI Maternity, Parental, Fishing, Family Caregiving and Compassionate care benefits, as well as all other claims established prior to March 15th, or if you have completed your bi-weekly reporting and need to speak to an agent, please contact the EI call centre at 1-800-206-7218.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit: Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know whether to apply for EI benefits or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

A single portal is available to assist you with the application process. You will be asked to answer a few simple questions which will help direct you to complete the application best suited to your situation.

For anyone who became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your Employment Insurance claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

For other Employment Insurance benefits, including maternity, parental, caregiving, fishing and work-sharing, you should continue to apply as you normally would.

Under what circumstances can I apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to those who stop working for reasons related to COVID-19, for example:

  • You have lost your job;
  • You are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19;
  • You are taking care of others because they are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19; and/or
  • You are taking care of children or other dependents because their care facility is closed due to COVID-19.

There may be other reasons related to COVID-19 beyond these examples why you may have stopped working. However, you cannot voluntarily quit your job.

Alternatively, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if:

  • You are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits; or
  • You are a former Employment Insurance claimant who used up your entitlement to your Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020.

To get the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you may not earn more than $1,000 for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four week period of your claim or $1000 in total for each subsequent claim.

How much could I receive through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you would receive $500 per week to a maximum of 16 weeks.

The Benefit is taxable -- you will be expected to report it as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year.

When is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit available?

The Benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. You can apply no later than December 2, 2020 for payments retroactive to within that period. You can apply here.

Can you receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you are not a citizen or permanent resident?

Yes if you meet the eligibility requirements, which includes residing in Canada and having a valid Social Insurance Number.

Do I need to be laid off to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

No.

Workers who remain attached to their company can receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if they meet the eligibility requirements.

If I am already receiving Employment Insurance regular benefits, should I reapply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

No.

If you are already receiving Employment Insurance regular benefits, you will continue to receive these benefits until the end of your benefit period.

You cannot be paid Employment Insurance benefits and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for the same period.

What income types count towards the $5,000 in employment and/or self-employment income?

The $5,000 includes all employment and self-employment income. This includes among others: tips you have declared as income; non-eligible dividends; honoraria (e.g., nominal amounts paid to emergency service volunteers); and royalties (e.g., paid to artists). If you are not eligible for Employment Insurance, you may also include maternity and parental benefits you received from the Employment Insurance program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.

Pensions, student loans and bursaries are not considered employment income and should not be included.

Does the minimum income of $5,000 have to be earned in Canada?

No.

The income does not have to be earned in Canada, but you need to reside in Canada.

What counts towards the $1,000 in income I can earn?

The $1,000 includes employment and/or self-employment income. This includes among others: tips you may earn while working; non-eligible dividends; honoraria (e.g., nominal amounts paid to emergency service volunteers); and royalties (e.g., paid to artists).

However, royalty payments received from work that took place before the period for which a person applies for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit do not count as income during that specific benefit period.

Pensions, student loans and bursaries are not employment income and therefore, should not be included in the $1000.

Applications will be verified against tax records to confirm income.

How financial benefits affect family sponsorship

Can I sponsor my spouse, parent or grandparent if I’m receiving a Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payment?

Yes, if you’re receiving CERB you’re still eligible to sponsor, as long as you meet all the requirements. CERB would not be considered social assistance.

Is CERB considered social assistance?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit payments (CERB) are not considered social assistance. Receiving CERB won’t make you ineligible to sponsor your spouse, parent or grandparent.

If I collect EI or CERB during the undertaking period as a sponsored permanent resident, will it cause my sponsor to go into default?

No, neither EI or CERB would cause the sponsor to default if you collect these benefits during the undertaking period.

However, if you collect social assistance during the undertaking period, that would cause your sponsor to default and they would have to be repay the amount.

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