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Canada Emergency Response Benefit: Eligibility and Application Process

March 26, 2020
Canada and Covid-19 Emergency help

CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT: ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION PROCESS

In today’s update, we’re including information on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and an announcement about the suspension of audits by the CRA. You will find information on audits in the lower part of today’s email.

We are working hard to bring you timely updates as they are made by the government while ensuring that the information we provide is accurate and relevant. Please reach out to us at any time if you have any questions or concerns. FBC is here for you.

CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT: ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION PROCESS

Yesterday we alerted all FBC Members that the federal government had introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to support workers and help businesses keep their employees. We now have more detail about eligibility criteria and application procedures.

WHAT IS THE CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB)?

CERB is a taxable benefit that provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Note: The CERB would replace the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

WHO QUALIFIES?

The CERB would cover Canadians who, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak have:

  • lost their job
  • are sick
  • are quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • or are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.

Applicants must have had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day they make the application.

The benefit is also available to workers who are still employed but not receiving income because of COVID-19 related disruptions. That means, as a small business owner you may be able to hold on to your employees during the outbreak, while ensuring you are able to resume normal operations as soon as it is possible.

The CERB would apply to:

  • wage earners
  • contract workers
  • self-employed individuals who, under normal circumstances, would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

HOW TO APPLY?

The CRA is administering this program. Applications will be completed and submitted through an on-line portal which will be available in early April. Specific application details and links to the portal have not been released.

WHEN IS THE CERB PAID?

Canadians will begin receiving their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

WHAT ABOUT REGULAR EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (EI)?

EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

EI COORDINATION WITH CERB

The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in these past weeks.

As a result, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.
Note: Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB.

If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.

Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply.

Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

AUDIT

If the federal government determines that someone received an income support payment for which they did not qualify, they will be required to repay that amount as soon as they can.

The repayment amount will be determined by the government. No interest payments would be charged on the amount owed.

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS

We expect additional details about CERB will be announced in the coming days. If you have questions about CERB or other federal, provincial or municipal assistance programs implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit for updated information.

CANADA REVENUE AGENCY – COLLECTIONS, AUDITS AND APPEALS

On March 18th, the Federal Government announced a temporary suspension to audit interaction and debt collection in certain cases to help Canadians coping with the COVID-19 outbreak.

This announcement may impact you if you have:

RECEIVED AN AUDIT NOTICE:
No new audits for the next four weeks. Auditors will not contact small or medium businesses (or their representatives) to initiate new post assessment audits in the next 4 weeks.

AN AUDIT ALREADY IN PROGRESS
Audits in progress will be suspended for most taxpayers.

AN OUTSTANDING BALANCE
If you have an outstanding debt you don’t need to worry about collection activities until further notice. Going forward flexible payment options will available to help manage payments.

PENALTIES AND INTEREST ON BALANCES OWED
Penalties and interest on balances owing may be waived. If you have balance with the CRA, you may be able to minimize interest and penalties by can submitting a request to have them waived if you can’t make a payment because of circumstances beyond your control.

FILED OBJECTION OR APPEAL
If you have filed an objection or appeal regarding a benefit or credit (or if we have filed it on your behalf), it will be processed as usual. There should be no delay in processing these objections. However, processing of objections or appeals related to other tax matters will be suspended until further notice.

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