Changes to Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Because so many changes are being made to the CERB and other programs, people are encouraged to check the Government of Canada website to make sure information hasn't changed.

Ottawa (27 April 2020) — Since it was first announced, a number of changes have been made to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). These changes increase the number of people who are eligible and make it clear what happens when people applying for the CERB are still receiving benefits from their employers.

Many seasonal workers now eligible for the CERB

Normally workers in many seasonal jobs would be preparing to go back to work right now. Because many places that employ large numbers of people during the summer, like provincial parks, are closed, many seasonal workers won’t be able to work this summer.

When the CERB was first announced, seasonal workers weren’t eligible. However, the CERB has been changed so that workers who “have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020” will be eligible.

What is still not clear is what will happen to workers in communities where a large number of jobs are seasonal after the CERB expires.

Receiving non-cash benefits won't disqualify people from getting the CERB

Many workers who aren’t working right now are still receiving health and other benefits from their employers. It was not clear whether these benefits would count towards the income limit for the CERB.

That issue has been resolved with a recent update to the Questions and Answers on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that states, “The employer can continue to provide non-cash benefits to the employee and these will not impact their eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.”

Still restrictions on EI top-ups

Under Employment Insurance (EI) rules, Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plans can be used to top-up what workers receiving EI would normally get. Because EI only provides 55% of normal wages, many unions have negotiated SUB plans.

With the CERB, income from SUB plans counts towards the $1,000/month income limit. If people receive more than $1,000/month through a SUB plan they are not eligible for the CERB. The federal government is supposed to be reviewing this issue, but to date it has not been resolved.

Like EI, people need to confirm eligibility to keep receiving the CERB

To continue to receive the CERB after the first payment people need to send in reports to show that they are still eligible. People can do this online or by phone. People receiving the CERB through Service Canada should complete their EI Report Cards.

How to get the latest information on what assistance you can receive from the federal government

The federal government is continuing to announce new programs to assist individuals and businesses and make changes to programs that were announced previously. The Government of Canada website has a complete list of programs with the most recent information on who is eligible and what support they provide.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE