CERB Info Sheet

The CERB or Canada Emergency Response Benefit is a special benefit available to workers who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even self-employed people or workers who have seen their income drop to $1,000 or less per month may be eligible for the CERB. Unsurprisingly, this new benefit has changed a bit as the government responded to criticism of the program in its first month. Find answers to your most common questions about the CERB below.

What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

  • This benefit is for those whose employment has been directly affected by COVID-19. The CERB will provide temporary income support. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.

When can I apply?

If you were born in the month of

  • January,  February or March apply on Mondays.
  • April, May, or June apply on Tuesdays.
  • July, August, or September  apply on Wednesdays.
  • October, November, or December apply on Thursdays.
  • Any month, apply on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Where can I apply?

  • CRA and Service Canada are working together to ensure access to funds the fastest way possible.  You can apply online or via telephone;
  • Online CERB application.
  • Phone 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041

Who is eligible for this Benefit?

  • You must reside in Canada and be at least 15 years old.
  • You have stopped working or seen your income reduced to $1,000 or less because of COVID-19 and did not VOLUNTARILY quit.
  • You do not receive Employment Insurance or sickness benefits.
  • Must have reported an income of $5,000.00 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of your application (this includes pregnancy and parental leave benefits).
  • Those who are or will be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial 4-week period.
  • The initial 4-week period began from March 15 to April 11th
  • You have to reapply every CERB period which are as follows;
    • April 12, 2020 to May 9, 2020
    • May 10, 2020 to June 6, 2020
    • June 7, 2020 to July 4, 2020
    • July 5, 2020 to August 1, 2020
    • August 2, 2020 to August 29, 2020
    • August 30, 2020 to September 26, 2020

You can receive benefits for up to 16 weeks if eligible.

What documents do I need to provide?

  • You will need to provide your personal contact information, your Social Insurance Number and confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements. 
  • You may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify your eligibility at a future date.

How and when will you receive payment?

  • After you apply, you should get your payment in 3 business days if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t, you should get it in about 10 business days.

Will I have to pay back the CERB?

  • The CERB is considered taxable income. If you were receive this benefit, you may have to pay tax on it when you do your 2020 taxes.
  •  If you were not eligible and applied you will have to return the entire amount issued to you. While no interest will be applied for mistaken receipt of the CERB, people who defraud the system deliberately may have penalties.

Should I apply for Employment Insurance (EI) or CERB?

  • If you have lost your employment income or self-employment income directly because of COVID-19 you should apply for CERB even if you qualify for EI.
  • The government is now directing even people who have lost their job for reasons unrelated to COVID-19 to apply for the CERB.

What if you have already applied for EI, but have not been approved?

  • If you become eligible for EI benefits or sickness benefits on March 15,2020 or later, your claim will automatically be transferred to the CERB.

What if you are already receiving EI or sickness benefits?

  • If you are already receiving EI or sickness benefits, you will continue to receive those benefits until the end of your benefit period. You cannot receive EI and CERB for the same period.

What if you are already receiving special benefits?

  • If you have applied for maternity, parental, caregiving, fishing and work-sharing benefits, you will continue to receive those benefits if you are otherwise eligible.

Do you qualify for CERB if you lost your income due to non-covid related reasons?

  • Yes. Initially, the CERB was only available for people experiencing COVID-19 related income loss. The government is now directing other people experiencing income loss during this time to the CERB application.
  • However, neither CERB nor EI is available to people who have “voluntarily quit” their jobs. While the CERB is a new benefit, EI has interpreted this to meant that people who have been “constructively dismissed” (aka forced to quit) are eligible. We predict that CERB will take the same approach.

Note:  This info sheet provides general information but isn’t legal advice. Information about COVID-19 related benefits including the CERB is new and rapidly changing We encourage you to contact us or another labour and employment lawyer as soon as possible if any COVID-19-related issues come up in your employment. There’s no substitute for advice tailored to your specific circumstances and the laws about COVID-19 in the workplace are changing rapidly, so you may need help with decision-making on these important issues. You can contact us at 289.389.4499 or info@molylaw.com .


Apply for the CERB or get more information about your eligibility here: Cerb Application

You might be interested in some of our other blog posts on your rights during the COVID-19 pandemic:


DISCLAIMER: This post is for educational and informational purposes only. The results of cases described in these posts may not be typical and are not guaranteed. The accuracy of McMahon Molyneaux Henriquez Labour & Employment Lawyer posts are not guaranteed, and laws may change from time to time. If you would like legal advice or have questions about your particular workplace problems, please contact a lawyer. Click here to contact Hamilton labour, employment and human rights lawyers Sarah Molyneaux or Roberto Henriquez now. Contacting McMahon Molyneaux Henriquez or using this website does not create a lawyer-client relationship. Your use of this website is entirely at your own risk.