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Coronavirus & Benefits for Workers: Which Benefits Are For You? - Common questions

Common questions

Do I need to be laid off to get the federal emergency benefit?

No. If you remain attached to your job, you can still get the Canada emergency response benefit. For example, you can still get the CERB benefit if your workplace just doesn’t have any work for you right now, but may call you back to work after all this passes.

To be eligible for the CERB benefit, you must have stopped working completely or had your hours cut to where you’re earning $1,000 or less per month (before taxes). You must also meet the other eligibility requirements.

I'm eligible for both EI and the federal emergency benefit. Which should I apply for?

The federal government is advising that if your work has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, you should start your application on the Canada emergency response benefit portal. That is even if you’re eligible for EI benefits.

The CERB portal guides you through a set of questions. Depending on your answers, you’ll be routed to one of Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency to submit the details of your application.

If I get the federal emergency benefit, can I get EI later?

Yes — if you became eligible for EI regular benefits or sickness benefits after March 15. In that case, you retain your eligibility to receive EI after you stop receiving the Canada emergency response benefit. If you are still out of work after getting the 24 weeks of the CERB benefit, you can start your normal EI benefits. You can think of it this way: your normal EI claim is being frozen while you get the CERB.

I’ve already applied for EI. Should I apply for the federal emergency benefit?

No. If you became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits after March 15, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada emergency response benefit.

If you became eligible for EI prior to March 15, your claim will be processed as an EI claim. 

I’m already getting EI benefits. Can I apply for the federal emergency benefit?

No — at least not now. If you’re already receiving EI benefits, you’ll continue to receive them. You're not eligible for the Canada emergency response benefit until you use up your EI benefits. This will no doubt feel frustrating if your current EI benefits are less than the CERB benefit payment. But you can’t opt for the CERB benefit if you’re already getting EI.

However, if you use up your EI before October 2 and are still unemployed, you can switch to the CERB benefit if you meet the criteria.

Do I need my record of employment (ROE) to apply for the federal emergency benefit?

No. All you need to provide is your personal contact information and your social insurance number. You’ll also need to declare that you meet the eligibility criteria. 

What counts as income to qualify for the federal emergency benefit?

To qualify for the Canada emergency response benefit, you must have had at least $5,000 in income in 2019 or in the 12 months before you apply. The $5,000 can come from any of:

  • employment
  • self-employment (meaning you work for yourself) 
  • EI pregnancy or parental benefits (other EI benefits cannot be used to qualify)

The income doesn’t have to be earned in Canada.

Am I disqualified from the federal emergency benefit if I receive other income support?

No. You can continue to receive provincial income support, social assistance, workers’ compensation, or pension income while you’re receiving the Canada emergency response benefit. As well, you can earn up to $1,000 per month from employment income while collecting the CERB benefits.

Based on my situation, I’d get less than $500 per week under EI. Will I get the $500 under the federal emergency benefit?

Yes. If you qualify for the Canada emergency response benefit, you’ll receive $500 per week, regardless of what you may have been eligible to receive through EI.