Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, scores of workers in Canada have lost their jobs and it is estimated that up until now, 1.6 million EI (Employment Insurance) applications have been filed. The federal government realized that EI alone won’t help individuals sustain their current lifestyle during this outbreak. As a result, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was introduced to temporarily assist those who have lost income during this period regardless of whether you have EI or not.

It would provide eligible applicants $500 per week for 16 weeks. The application procedure and eligibility criteria can be found below.

How to apply

Applications would start being processed by the CRA on April 6th. Those who are currently without work and are eligible for EI should apply for Employment Insurance now.

Even if you are not eligible for EI, you may apply for CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency.

Provided below is a chart table from the CRA on the days to apply for CERB corresponding to your birth month. You may apply online or via phone.

January, February or March Mondays
April, May, or June Tuesdays
July, August, or September Wednesdays
October, November, or December Thursdays
Any month Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays


Eligibility Criteria

The CERB can be claimed by workers who:

  • Reside in Canada and are at least 15 years of age.
  • Have stopped working because of COVID-19 or those who qualify for EI regular /sickness benefits
  • Had income of at least $5000 in 2019 or 12 months prior to submitting the application (this includes those who have been self-employed). This income may also be a combination of: self-employment, maternity and parental benefits under EI and/or similar benefits within Quebec under Parental Insurance plan.
  • Are expected to be without income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial 4-week period.


Note: You do not need a medical certificate to apply for the CERB; all you need to do is fill out an online application.

You will start getting the benefits within 10 days of the application (no waiting period)

You can either choose direct deposit or cheque as payment methods (the former will get you the benefits quicker)

Benefits received are not to be considered tax-free. They won’t be deducted at the source, but you have to declare them as income while filing taxes for 2020.