The federal government has proposed a staggering set of measures to help individual Canadians and businesses cope in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most significant programs announced thus far is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The program will merge and enhance the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.
According to the federal government, the CERB will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months to:
- Workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support
- Workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
- Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures
- Workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work
- Wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers
Our team has been flooded with calls from business owners who have been forced to lay off staff as the pandemic has escalated and social-distancing measures have forced slowdowns or shutdowns across industries. Most are eager to collect and share information to help staff access income support, while finding ways to maintain employee headcount and manage fast-growing operating expenses as their revenue declines. The CERB will help many of them retain employees until restrictions are lifted and some level of business normalcy is restored.
It’s important to note that the program will be available to any Canadian who has been forced to stop working due to COVID-19, whether or not they qualify for Employment Insurance.
The portal to access the CERB is projected to go live in early April. Canadians have been told to expect payments within 10 days of application. The CERB will be paid every four weeks and would be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
Applicants can also apply using a toll-free number. We’ll provide an update with the website and phone number once they become available.
Armando Iannuzzi, Co-Managing Partner