The federal government will provide a $2,000-per-month taxable benefit for up to four months for Canadians who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit, an amalgamation of two previously announced benefits, will be available to workers who’ve lost their jobs, are sick or quarantined and are taking care of someone ill with the coronavirus, as well as to parents caring for their children due to school and daycare closures.
The benefit applies to wage earners, as well as to contract workers and self-employed people who wouldn’t be eligible for employment insurance.
Workers who are still employed but aren’t receiving income because of work disruptions would also qualify for the CERB. “This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible,” the government said in a press release.
The portal for accessing the CERB will become available in early April, and those who apply should receive funds within 10 days. The benefit will be paid every four weeks and will be available from March 15, 2020 until Oct. 3, 2020.
“We know that people are worried about their health, their jobs and their financial situations,” said Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, in the release. “Our government is doing whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to support workers, families and businesses.”
The coronavirus has already taken a strong toll on Canada’s economy. On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said 500,000 Canadians had applied for EI benefits in the past week — in comparison to just 27,000 applications for the same week in 2019. “The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week,” the release said.
To help ease that burden, all Canadians, regardless of their EI eligibility, can file for the CERB. Workers who are already receiving regular EI benefits or EI sickness benefits as of today will continue to receive those and shouldn’t apply for the new benefit. However, if their benefits are scheduled to end before Oct. 3, 2020 and they still can’t return to work, they can apply for the CERB.
Workers who’ve applied for EI benefits and haven’t had their application processed yet won’t need to re-apply, the government said.