Help for your tenants to pay their rents

The federal government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on March 25, 2020. The CERB is to be managed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). It will take the form of a payment of $500 per week to workers who have lost income because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount is taxable, but no tax will be deducted at source.

In government-speak, “workers” include employees and the self-employed, including consultants, Uber drivers, and those who work in the “gig economy”. Under the current plan, workers may receive the CERB for up to 16 weeks. Payments can be effective as far back as March 15, 2020, or can continue until the scheduled program end date, which is October 3, 2020.

The CERB replaces two measures announced previously, namely the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit. By design, the eligibility for CERB is broad.

The main requirements are:

  • to be a Canadian resident
  • to be at least 15 years old
  • to have earned at least $5,000 of income from work in the 52 weeks before their application, or in the previous calendar year (anywhere in the world)
  • not to have access to paid leave or other income support
  • to have lost income due to COVID-19 other than by quitting
  • to have no income for at least 14 consecutive days of the four-week period that is applied for.

The CERB is open to:

  • 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 who are sick, or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who 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, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

The web portal and automated phone application system for CERB applications opened on April 6. The government asks that applicants apply based on their birth month.

  • January, February and March: apply on Mondays
  • April, May and June: apply on Tuesdays
  • July, August and September: apply on Wednesdays
  • October, November and December: apply on Thursdays
  • EVERYONE CAN APPLY on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Click here for up-to-date information about the CERB

CERB versus EI

People already receiving EI will continue to do so as long as they are eligible. They should not apply for the CERB. People receiving EI payments that stop before October 3, 2020, may be eligible to apply for CERB if they are unable to find work due to ongoing issues with COVID-19.

All of the programs are currently changing from week to week. To stay informed, sign up for the CFAA e-Newsletter at