CERB vs. EI

Many Canadians who are currently out of a job our about to be out of a job are asking, ‘Do I apply for Employment Insurance or the CERB?’

We’ve reviewed the government’s website and have broken it down for you.

What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

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

How to apply

The online portal will start accepting applications on April 6.

Prior to April 6, individuals who are without work and are eligible for EI can continue to apply for Employment Insurance.

Eligibility

The benefit will be available to workers:

    • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
    • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits:
    • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application;
    • 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 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 are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.

Can I have other income while receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

You must have stopped working as a result of COVID-19 and be without employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period. This includes income from paid leave, self-employment income or collection of any Employment Insurance benefits.

For subsequent periods, you must expect to have no employment income.

You can also apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits.

Provided it is allowed in your province or territory, you may also receive provincial or territorial support payments at the same time you receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

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, whether or not are eligible for Employment Insurance. The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.

Starting April 6, 2020, there will be a single portal to assist you with the application process.

Until then, Canadians who are eligible for Employment Insurance and who have lost their job can continue to apply for Employment Insurance.

If you applied for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

In addition, for other EI benefits, including maternity, parental, caregiving, fishing and worksharing, you should also continue to apply.

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.

If you were eligible to Employment Insurance benefits that started before March 15, 2020, and these benefits end before October 3, 2020, you may then apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit if you meet the eligibility requirements, including that you have stopped work because of reasons related to COVID-19.

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

I have applied for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits, but my claim hasn’t been processed yet, do I need to reapply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

No.

If you became eligible for Employment Insurance prior to March 15th, your claim will be processed under the pre-existing Employment Insurance rules.

If you became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15th or onward, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Service Canada is processing all of these claims as quickly as possible.

If I would be entitled to more than the $500 per week under Employment Insurance, will I get the higher amount?

No. When you apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you will receive $500 per week, regardless of what you may have been eligible to receive through Employment Insurance.

However, you retain your eligibility to receive for Employment Insurance after you stop receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and the period that you received the CERB does not impact your EI entitlement.

If I would have been entitled to less than the $500 per week under Employment Insurance, will I get the $500?

Yes. When you apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you will receive $500 per week, regardless of what you may have been eligible to receive through Employment Insurance.

What if I stopped working before March 15th but only applied for Employment Insurance after March 15th – which benefit will I receive?

If you became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits prior to March 15th, your claim will be processed under the pre-existing Employment Insurance rules.

 

For further information and a list of FAQs check the government website

 

Jess Watt

Author Jess Watt

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