Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Last updated April 30th

As of April 6, there is just one starting application site for EI sickness and CERB. If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support.

The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

This benefit applies to:

  • Parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of closures.
  • Those who need to take sick leave 
  • Those who are ill, in self-isolation or quarantine
  • Those who are caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • Workers who are still employed but are not receiving income, or workers who have lost their job and meet the following additional criteria; 
    • Have ceased working for at least 14 days within the four-week period during which you will receive a CERB payment for reasons relating to COVID-19;
    • Individuals who are at least 15 years old
    • You have not voluntarily quit your job; and
    • You are not receiving income from employment or self-employment; benefits from a provincial plan for pregnancy or adoption and any other income identified by the government
  • You must also have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the past 12 months (maternity, parental, or adoptions benefits count) 

Learn more about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit including eligibility, and how to apply here.

If you have not already applied for EI, you can apply for the CERB. You can do this with the CRA or with Service Canada, but not both. A few questions will guide you to the right form for you. Answer the questions under Get Started, on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit page. 

There are two ways to apply:

  • Online with CRA My Account
  • Over the phone with an automated phone service -1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041

If you can, get ready to apply by setting up a MyAccount with the Canada Revenue Agency and giving your banking information for direct deposit. Another way to set up direct deposit can be through your bank if you use online banking.

If you are not yet receiving EI benefits, your application will automatically be assessed for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. You do not need to send in a new application.


As of April 15th, you are now eligible to apply for the CERB. This includes Musicians and artists.

As of April 15th, seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak are eligible to apply for the CERB.

As of April 15th, workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for the CERB.

1) Make sure you are getting the Canada Child Benefit.

2) If you received Employment Insurance maternity or parental benefits, these count
towards the $5,000 “work” earnings in the last year in the eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. 

You can’t get CERB at the same time as EI maternity or parental benefits.

If you don’t have work when you come off of maternity/parental benefits, you might get CERB if you have the $5,000 in work income in the last year.

In normal times, people who are coming off of EI maternity/parental benefits and have lost their job can apply for EI regular benefits (see here). Right now, CERB is replacing EI regular benefits and people who would qualify for EI regular benefits can still claim those, if they need to, if they use up all of 4 of their CERB payments.

If you get CERB for the same 4 weeks that your employer gets the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to pay you, you may be asked to pay back your CERB.

If you lost paid work, have been laid off or have to be home due to illness or caregiving, you can get CERB if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Some expectant mothers who applied for CERB through Service Canada and reported truthfully that they are pregnant were told that they had to start their maternity claim early, instead of taking CERB. But, the federal government has confirmed (scroll down in the same link) that expectant parents can take CERB (for 1 month or more) if they qualify and then switch into EI maternity/parental benefits as they planned.

To qualify for EI maternity and parental benefits, parents have to show they have had at least 600 hours of work where they (and their employer) paid into Employment Insurance. In Quebec, parents have to show they have earned at least $3,000 through work (including self-employment).

Because of COVID19, some parents will be worried they won’t have enough hours or earnings to qualify for the benefits they planned on.

It isn’t yet clear how the federal or Quebec governments are going to handle this question. You could call your federal MP (or in Quebec your MNA) – see the links earlier in this document -- to make your voice heard.

Phone: 416-392-7903
Constituency Office: 100 Queen St W A5, Toronto, ON, M5H 2N2