I’m confused about accessing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other federal benefits available to those affected by COVID-19 – can you help?

I’m confused about accessing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other federal benefits available to those affected by COVID-19 – can you help?

Answer

If members who have lost income/work during the COVID-19 pandemic have questions about federal government financial assistance, the following information resources may be helpful.

A good place to start is the External Resources page on our SEIU-West COVID-19 page. 

For a full list of the federal benefits, scroll down to Government of Canada: COVID-19 for the link to the Federal COVID-19 Benefits & Services page. Here you’ll find info (with links) for both individuals and businesses. The information changes weekly, even daily, as the programs are tweaked and new programs are announced. But here’s some highlights of what’s listed for individuals as of April 30:

  • Two COVID-related benefit increases they may be eligible for, and might already have received automatically:
  • Two programs you may have heard about in the news, but that aren’t fully implemented yet:
    • Temporary salary top-up for low-income essential workers: some of our members may be eligible. Details TBA.
    • Canada Emergency Student Benefit: grant to students and new graduates who can’t find work but are not eligible for EI or the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Details TBA.
  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Members who had to stop work because of COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $2000 every four weeks for up to 16 weeks (so a maximum of $8,000). For example, you may be able to get CERB if, on March 15 or later:
    • you were in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19;
    • you were taking care of others because they were in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19;
    • you were taking care of children or other dependents because their care facility was closed due to COVID-19;
    • your EI has run out and you are unable to find work because of COVID-19. It is possible to get both EI and CERB, just not at the same time. The online application form will walk you through the process.
  • There’s a detailed CERB FAQ.
  • It’s recommended to apply for the CERB online, but you can apply by phone (1-833-966-2099). Make sure to have handy:
    • Your SIN
    • Your banking information (including branch/transit number), if you want direct deposit