On April 15, 2020, the federal government announced the expanded eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB"), upon mounting criticism that many workers were unable to collect the CERB despite being financially impacted by COVID-19. The following changes have been made:

Now workers can earn up to $1,000 per month in employment and/or self-employment income while collecting the CERB.

Some examples:

  • A gig economy worker has lost 80% of their jobs due to COVID-19 however the remaining 20% they earn $1000 for the month. They can still collect the CERB, which means total potential earnings of $3000 per month while receiving the benefit.
  • A worker held two part-time jobs. They were laid off from one of their jobs due to COVID-19, however they are still working at the second part-time job. If the second job pays less than $1000/month, they are able to continue to work while receiving the $2000 benefit.
  • A retail worker is receiving $1000 per month from a relief fund set up by the company they work since the store they work for is closed. They can still apply for the CERB and receive the $1000 from the relief fund.
  • An office worker has had their pay cut to $1000 per month along with reduced working hours. They can continue to work and earn up to $1000 per month from their company while also receiving the CERB.

Seasonal workers who have exhausted their Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

  • For example, those who work in commercial fishing, construction or resorts who work for a period of the year and would typically receive EI for the remaining months and now cannot return to those jobs due to COVID-19 are eligible for the CERB benefit.

Workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020 and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19

  • For example, if you are collecting EI which is set to end May 1, 2020 and you are unable to find a job because of COVID-19, you can switch to receiving the CERB if you meet all the other criteria

If you are an essential worker that makes less than $2500 per month, you will soon be eligible to receive a temporary salary top-up. Details of this program will be released shortly.

There are likely to be further changes in the CERB eligibility requirements, in particular for students who are currently ineligible for the CERB and yet have no prospects for summer employment.

If you are a student who earned at least $5000 during 2019 from a summer job, part-time work during the school year, and/or a co-op term, you are eligible for the CERB if you had a job offer for the month of May that has been deferred for at least 14 days.

Originally Published 20 April, 2020

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