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Canada Emergency Response Benefit

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On March 25, 2020, the Government of Canada announced proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB will provide $2,000 a month for up to sixteen (16) weeks for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would replace the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). In order to be eligible, applicants must be a resident of Canada, 15 years old or older, and have had total income in the 12-month period preceding the day on which they apply of at least $5,000. Based on the tabled legislation, it appears that applicants need to have ceased working for at least 14 consecutive days before they become eligible.

The program is scheduled to commence April 6th and would replace new applications for Employment Insurance (EI) at that time. The CERB would be paid every four weeks by direct deposit and be available retroactively from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020. CERB payments would commence within 10 days of application. The portal for accessing the CERB is expected to be available in early April. EI eligible Canadians who have been laid-off or terminated prior to such date can continue to apply for EI through regular channels. EI recipients whose EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, will be then eligible to apply for the CERB if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.

Canadians who are already receiving EI would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. The CERB payment of $2,000 a month will be less than regular EI for workers who earned over $54,200 per year who would be entitled to the maximum of $573 per week. The CERB does not appear to be calculated based on earnings; all applicants who are approved will receive $2000 per month.

It is unclear at this time whether employers will need to complete a Record of Employment (ROE) in order for employees who have been laid-off or terminated to be eligible for the CERB; however, we are advising businesses to complete ROEs on the assumption that this will be a requirement.

A draft of the legislation can be found here.

 

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