“Is the CERB for me?”

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Lately, there has not been a whole lot of good news in the world. Ranging from the spread of COVID-19, the economic standstill of the world economy, the price war of oil adding fuel to the fire of the melting economy, and most recently – the terrible mass shooting in Nova Scotia. Please pause for a moment and share with us thoughts and prayers for all who lost friends and loved ones during this time of tragedy and hurt.

Thoughts and prayers for Nova Scotia
Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

Not to diminish in any way the tragedy and struggle that everyone is facing in one way or another, let us try to look at some positive actions that can ease some of the worry and fear many Canadians face in uncertain times. Some good news that many people have been following is the government of Canada providing temporary income support to many different groups of people. This initiative plan, which is called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), is a stimulus package to assists many residents to make ends meet in current economic situation.

While this is a helping hand when it is needed most, the eligibility process might sound a little confusing. This package is evolving just as fast as our daily lives are and each person has a unique economic situation that has been impacted. The government is taking broad strokes to help as many people as possible, but not everyone has been provided for yet. We tried to simplify it for you as much as possible in this article and if you determine you are not yet eligible for benefits that you may need, we will talk about what your next step might look like.

Here are the CERB eligibility criteria: (exactly copied from Canada.ca website)

-Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;

-Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;

-Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,

-Who have not quit their job voluntarily

-When submitting your first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of your claim.

-When submitting subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire four-week benefit period of your new claim.

This plan is generally targeting those workers who have completely or partially lost their income for any reason related to COVID-19. However, it does not limit to this group. It also covers other categories such as those who are eligible for receiving EI or have exhausted their EI under certain conditions. Check out the helpful flowchart we put together below to see if you are eligible.

CERB Eligibility Flow Chart as of April 22, 2020 – By Sahar Modirzadeh

5 useful points about the benefit plan:

– It doesn’t matter you are an international student, in Canada on a work permit, or are a Canadian PR or Citizen, as long as you have lost your qualifying income due to COVID-19, you are eligible to apply

– It doesn’t matter you have earned $5000 outside country as long as you reside in Canada, you are eligible to apply

– You do not have to be laid off by your company to be considered eligible. You are still eligible as long as you meet the current established criteria

– If you have stopped working to take care of others who are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19, you are also eligible

– If you have stopped working to take care of children or other dependents because their care facility is closed due to COVID-19.

What does all of this mean for you?

If you followed our handy chart and determined you are eligible for benefits and need government assistance, you should go to the CERB website and start the application process. If you are still in a group that has not yet been covered by the CERB, don’t give up just yet. First, subscribe to this blog so we can keep you updated on the program changes as the roll out. Remember that the government is reacting as situations arise so you may still end up being eligible for benefits you need.

So, this leads to an important Second point: If you are not eligible for benefits but you have a unique situation that causes you to need CERB assistance, speak up. Reach out to you local Member of Parliament with the details because the odds are that you are not alone, you have only temporarily fallen through the cracks. Find you local MP through this government tool.  

Finally, Today PM Trudeau announced another $9 Billion dollars in aid for students not covered under existing CERB requirements. This legislation still needs to be approved through parliament and we will have more information to follow on this new stimulus package when it is available. With that, we will leave you by saying stay safe and #staytogetherapart.

Sahar & Dr. D

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