Update April 16: Eligibility REVISED – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

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The Government of Canada has further revised eligibility for CERB. Many Canadians who were previously ineligible are now eligible. This lecture explains the changes to the eligibility criteria.

For further information, please visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of Formative LLP.   Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals.  Subscribe today to learn more.


Show Notes:


Lecture Slides:

Welcome to YouCounsel.

Government has announced additional changes for CERB, Canada Emergency Response Benefits. It has allowed additional people to be eligible.  Still not everybody’s eligible. But there are more people who are eligible.  Who are those people? How has the criteria changed?  This update is all about that. What we have done is, we have used the slides from our previous lecture and then all the changes that the government has made we have posted these in our slides in blue color so you can easily see what are the changes that have been made from the last time we provided a lecture on this.

We begin with our disclaimer that this lecture is not legal advice, if you have any specific questions regarding your issues you should contact a lawyer or a paralegal or Canada Revenue Agency with respect to Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Now most of the criteria is the same. We will not go into too much detail about that. You need to be at least 15 years old, this is straightforward. You should be residing in Canada. Not much has changed with respect to residing in Canada, but there are some clarifications that we can post.  Temporary foreign workers are eligible, international students are eligible, permanent residents are also eligible.  I just wanted to point that out. The only requirement is that you should be residing in Canada and you should have a valid social insurance number and of course you meet the other eligibility requirements.

Now a number of people have asked this question that they were traveling overseas and for some reason they are stuck there and they are not able to return to Canada.  Are they still eligible, if they meet all the other conditions? I quite frankly do not know the answer.  No clarity has been given on the Government of Canada website. I would assume that the person is a resident of Canada and they have been temporarily stuck outside of Canada so they should be eligible, but you should contact CRA to confirm the answer to this question.

The requirement for $5000 has not changed.  To be eligible you should have earned $5000 gross income in the last 12 months or in 2019.  That requirement remains the same and the income should include employment income, self- employment income, if you have earned any maternity or parental benefits, all of those are included.

Previously the requirement was that you must have stopped work due to Covid-19 and that was the only requirement for eligibility and other reasons for stoppage of work would make you ineligible. That has changed.  But stoppage of work is still stoppage of work—due to Covid-19—is still one of the reasons that will make you eligible.  Some of the conditions were you have been let go from your job.  Previously it said that your hours have been reduced to 0—that is no longer the case because the current eligibility allows you to work certain hours based on certain income.  Or if you are in quarantine or sick due to Covid-19, you were away taking care of someone who was sick due to Covid-19, you are taking care of children who cannot go to daycares or schools because of Covid-19—all of these are stoppage of work and are reasons due to Covid-19.  But more importantly what I want you to note is that these are only examples. 

This is not an exhaustive list that relates to stoppage of work due to Covid-19.  There may be other circumstances in your case in which you are not working, somehow related to Covid-19, but the exact situation is not covered here and so you may still be eligible. The key thing to note is that you have not voluntarily quit your job.  Because, if you have done so then you will not be eligible for Canada Emergency Response Benefits.

The eligibility change as I noted in blue, is that people who are entitled to employment insurance benefits either regular or sickness benefits, they are now eligible for CERB. What does this mean? We’ll explain that by way of some example. Let’s say your stoppage of work is unrelated to Covid-19, but you are eligible to receive regular E.I. benefits.  Then, now you are entitled. Previously if your employment contract was ending, regardless of Covid-19, you knew that your employment contract is ending on May or June or earlier, then that’s the end of contract.  It had nothing to do with Covid-19.  That would make you ineligible for CERB.  But now you are eligible. Similarly, you may have received the termination notice of your employment months and months ago.  You may have received the notice sometime in August of last year that your employment would end in March of 2020 and that was obviously unrelated to Covid-19.  But because of this particular change, that government has introduced, now you are entitled to CERB.

Also, now if you are on sickness, E.I. sickness benefits, but the reason for sickness is unrelated to Covid-19, then you will still be eligible for CERB. Previously the reason for the illness had to be related to Covid-19, but now your reason for illness is not related to Covid-19.  You will still be eligible.

One more change the government has introduced for eligibility is for people who have exhausted their regular employment insurance benefits during a certain time period which is between December 29th, 2019 to October 3rd, 2020. These will be people who will also be eligible for CERB. Let’s explain that by way of an example as well. For example, if your employment was ended and you are now looking for work but you have received employment insurance benefits, regular benefits during this period between December 29th 2019 and October 3rd 2020, then you are now eligible for CERB. One of the examples could be that your stoppage of work occurred prior to Covid-19.  For example, you were terminated from your employment in July 2019 and you are entitled to regular E.I. benefits and those benefits continued beyond December 29th 2019, then you are still eligible. If those benefits expired prior to December 29th 2019, then you are not eligible.  Or if you were terminated because of unrelated reasons, unrelated to Covid-19, but you received regular E.I. benefits then you will get CERB.  You’ll be eligible.

This also applies to seasonal workers.  For example, a lot of construction workers work in the summers and then they receive E.I. benefits for a certain time period. If those people were receiving benefits between December 29th 2019 and October 3rd 2020 – any time in that time period, then they will still be eligible for CERB even though their end of seasonal work was unrelated to Covid-19.

Similarly, if you had received sickness benefits which were unrelated to Covid-19, but you were entitled to sickness benefits, E.I. sickness benefits, during this time period, then you will be eligible for CERB. The key thing, the thread, the common thread in this eligibility is that CERB is now being extended to people who have received E.I. regular or sickness benefits between December 29th 2019 and October 3rd 2020.

What are the changes made to income during the CERB period? There are certain changes.

It is important to note.  Previously what was stated was that your income in the initial 4 week benefits period (and initial 4 week periods if you recall started from March 15th and ran up to April 11th), and then the requirement was for that 14, for 14 consecutive days your income had to be 0 in that time period. That has changed.  Now when you’re making your 1st claim, it is not tied to that particular 1st initial period.  Your 1st claim for the 4 week benefit period your income for at least 14 consecutive days should not exceed $1000.  And that is gross income. It is no longer 0.  As long as you have not made more than $1000 in 14 consecutive days in the 1st claim for your 4 week benefits, you are now eligible for CERB.

What does this term income include? This has been explained a bit more in detail.  Let’s go through that. Tips that people earn and declare as income that is considered income.  Non-eligible dividends these are basically monies that you receive from a corporation / small businesses usually, honoraria – this is usually for volunteer workers, royalties for artists—these are some of the examples of income.  Obviously, if you have earned salary or if you have earned your self-employment income, then that’s all income.  The same definition is used for the $5000 requirement.  What is considered income—the same definition applies here.  Please note that pension, student loans and bursaries are not considered employment income and they should not be included.

What about subsequent periods? Previously the requirement was that for subsequent periods your income had to be 0.  That is no longer the case.  Now the requirement is that your employment income should not exceed $1000 for the entire 4 week benefits period. If it is not exceeding $1000, then you are eligible for CERB. This is an incentive for people who are part-time or work less hours and want to continue working certain hours and earn some money.  The important thing is for people who are working part-time and earning less than $1000, the money from CERB is not top up.  It’s not that you are going to get additional money to complete the $2000, you will get the whole $2000. If you earn $1000.00 and you get CERB for $2000 that is $3000.  There is some advantage to people who continue to work part-time or for reduced hours.

Income from other benefits: what is stated is that if you are receiving, for example, disability payments or other provincial support payments or territorial payments, you need to look at your own provinces rules to see whether the rules allow you to get the support payments in addition to CERB.  Each province has to decide that.  What the government website states is that government has encouraged the provinces to allow people to keep both payments.  My understanding is that, so far, only British Columbia has confirmed that it will temporarily allow people to keep CERB and their disability payments or other social assistance payments.  But for other provinces I’m not sure. Please check with your province to see what the rules are with respect to both payments.

We’re talking about employment insurance or CERB – which one you choose or can you choose between the 2? If you are already receiving E.I. benefits whether regular illness, maternity or parental, you will continue to receive E.I. and if you were receiving less than $2000 a month the amount will not increase to $2000. It will remain whatever you are receiving.

If your E.I. expires before October 3rd 2020, as mentioned earlier, you can apply for CERB.  Previously the requirement was that your stoppage of work needed to be related to Covid-19.  Now that is no longer the case. If your E.I. expires prior to October 3rd 2020 you will be eligible for CERB. If you have already applied for E.I. you should not apply for CERB, it will automatically be converted to CERB, if you applied on March 15th or later.  But if you are eligible for E.I. before March 15th, you will receive your regular E.I. benefits.  And if you are eligible for E.I. on March 15th or later you will receive CERB.  Now again the payment amount for CERB is fixed.  It’s $500 per week and that’s what you will receive. But if your E.I. is less and you are already receiving that lesser amount your E.I. will not increase.  You will not get CERB for that amount.

Let’s talk about this additional eligibility summary. Let’s summarize it.  Who are people who are now going to get CERB? People who have lost their job before Covid-19 or unrelated to Covid-19, but received regular E.I, between December 29th 2019 and or later but before October 3rd 2020. These are people who may not have previously been eligible, but now are eligible. People who are eligible for regular E.I. benefits.  People who are terminated from employment unrelated to Covid-19.  For example, end of contract, they are now eligible for CERB. People who are eligible for the E.I. sickness but their sickness is unrelated to Covid-19, they will be eligible for CERB now. Seasonal workers as I indicated who received regular E.I. until December 29th 2019 or later, until October 3rd 2020, they are now eligible for CERB.

Please note that there are many people who are still not eligible for CERB.  Some of the people who are still not eligible: people who have lost jobs before the onset of Covid-19 and did not qualify for E.I. These are people who did not have sufficient insurable hours to qualify for E.I.  They are not eligible. People who were out of employment for a certain time period and they are now looking for work—they are not eligible. People looking for work but did not receive E.I. between December 29th and October 3rd 2020, they are still not eligible. Part time people, reduced hours people who make less than $2000 but earn more than one $1000 a month they will not be eligible for CERB and, of course, people who did not earn $5000 in the last 12 months of 2019 they are still not eligible for CERB.

Finally, people who have who are receiving E.I., but their E.I. is less than $2000 a month, you’re not getting a top up, they’re not getting CERB. E.I. is what they are going to get.

Hopefully, this gives you some more clarity about what are the changes that have been made. I understand that a lot of people may still not be eligible and we hope that there may be additional changes that will cover people who are in the need of these payments and who may not be otherwise eligible.

Thank-you for watching.

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