The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the daily lives of individuals all over the world. In several countries, the pandemic has decimated the economy and people are finding it challenging to adjust to the ‘new normal’.
With almost every sector taking a hit during the pandemic, the Government of Canada acted proactively to help millions of workers and other affected businesses. The government in partnership with the Canada Revenue Agency issued various relief funds and federal benefits as the country’s unemployment rate spiked over 13% in May 2020.
Here we take a look at these federal benefits and payouts disbursed by the Canada Revenue Agency over the last few months.
The CERB or Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The CERB (Canada Economy Response Benefit) was a retroactive COVID-19 payment that began in April and provided support to employed and self-employed Canadians directly affected by the pandemic.
You were eligible to receive this benefit if you did not quit your job voluntarily, you have been a resident of Canada and you are at least 15 years old. Further, you could also apply for the CERB if your working condition was affected due to COVID-19 i.e. your work hours got reduced, or you were unable to work because you were taking care of someone or other reasons directly related to the pandemic.
Lastly, you must have had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or 12-months before the application date. The CERB paid eligible applications $500/week for a 26-week period and this program expired on September 26 and was replaced by four other programs. The Canada Revenue Agency paid over $80 billion to approximately nine million Canadians over the 26-week period.
If you continue to need financial support, you may be eligible for the EI or Employment Insurance program, CRB, CRSB, or CRCB, each of which has been explained below.
What is the Employment Insurance program?
Employment Insurance or EI provides temporary financial support to Canadians who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and are looking for employment opportunities. The Canada Revenue Agency has revised the EI program to accommodate CERB applicants and has made temporary changes to the country’s flagship unemployment program.
These changes will be in effect for one year and in most cases, if you have applied for the CERB, you need not apply for EI as you will be automatically enrolled after the CRA reviews your eligibility. You will receive a minimum taxable benefit at a rate of $500 per week, or $300 per week for extended parental benefits.
You are eligible to receive the EI benefit if the following apply to you:
- You did not quit your job voluntarily
- You have received the CERB
- You are temporarily unable to work as you are taking care of yourself or someone else
- You were employed for at least 120 insurable hours in the past year and
- You are willing and capable of working each day
The Canada Recovery Benefit or CRB
Now, if you are not eligible for the EI program then there are other relief benefits that you can consider applying to. The CRB or Canada Recovery Benefit aims to give relief to employed or self-employed Canadians who are unable to work due to reasons related to COVID-19 or have a 50% cut in their income and are not eligible for the EI.
The CRB is administered by the CRA and upon eligibility, you can receive $1,000 for a two-week period. You can apply for up to 26 weeks to receive this benefit, provided your condition remains the same.
The eligibility criteria to apply for CRB are similar to the CERB and applications for the benefit began on October 12th.
What are the CRSB and CRCB?
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit or CRSB provides $500 per week for a period of two weeks to workers who are unable to work at least 50% of the week as they have contracted COVID-19. You can apply for the CRSB if you have to self-isolate due to COVID-19 or have underlying health conditions that will make you more susceptible to COVID-19.
Similarly, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit or CRCB is similar to the CRSB but for workers who cannot work for at least 50% in a week because they have to care of a child who is under 12 years old or have a family member in the household with COVID-19. This benefit also provides $500 per week for a period of two weeks.