Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was announced this week and combines the two previously announced benefits — the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit – into one single benefit. It offers income support of up to $2000 per month ($1800 after tax-deductions) for up to 16 weeks to those who lose pay because of the pandemic.
- workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
- 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 that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- workers who still have their employment but 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 CERB will be available to anyone who is at least 15 years old and who, in 2019 or in the 12-month period before they applied, had a total employment income of at least $5,000.
CERB is a simpler and more accessible program then EI. CERB will replace EI for those who have not applied for EI or whose EI applications have not yet been processed. For those who have already processed an EI application, the application will be automatically processed through CERB, there is no need to reapply through CERB. This will help reduce the volume of applications to process.
CERB will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number. People can expect direct payments within 10 days. CERB payments will be issued every four weeks, and will be available from March 15, 2020, to Oct. 3, 2020. It is recommended that individuals ensure they have created a “My CRA” account and set up direct deposit via “My CRA” to ensure they receive funds without delay.
For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:
- Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure will be in effect as of March 15, 2020.
- Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits
In addition to the above, there are a range of measures aimed at individuals, including:
- A six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment Canada student loans (federal portion). Effective March 30, we are placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all student loan borrowers. No payment will be required and interest will not accrue during this time. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.
- Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25 per cent for 2020.
- For over 12 million low- and modest-income families, who may require additional help with their finances, the Government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefiting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. This measure will inject $5.5 billion into the economy.
- For over 3.5 million families with children, who may also require additional support, the Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment. In total, this measure will deliver almost $2 billion in extra support.
Many of these measures will be implemented leveraging the existing social service system (for example “My CRA” or the National Student Loans Service Centre), meaning that they will flow through an individual’s existing FI.