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Coronavirus & Benefits for Workers: Which Benefits Are For You? - Take action

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Step 1. Clarify which benefits you might be eligible for

First, get a handle on the benefits available. If you haven’t done so yet, have a look at our summary of the benefit programs

Clarifying the options available might include having a talk with your employer. If they’re struggling to keep the doors open, you might ask for their thoughts on the Canada emergency wage subsidy. Under this program, explained here, the federal government subsidizes employers for up to 75% of their workers’ wages. Be aware you can earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the Canada emergency response benefit. 

Approaching your boss can be stressful. We offer tips to help you talk with your employer

Step 2. Apply for federal benefits (CERB or EI, but not both)

The federal government is advising that if your work has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, you should start your benefits 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.

You can also apply by calling 1-800-959-2019 (toll-free).

You’ll need your social insurance number.

If you qualify for the CERB benefit, you should receive your first payment in three to five days if you sign up for direct deposit, or 10 days if you choose mail.

If you qualify for the Canada emergency response benefit and EI benefits, you will receive the CERB benefit first. Your EI claim will be frozen while you get the CERB benefit. If you’re still out of work after getting the 24 weeks of the CERB benefit, you can start your normal EI benefits.

Step 3. Apply for the BC emergency benefit for workers

If you get approved for the Canada emergency response benefit, you can also apply for the BC emergency benefit for workers. The provincial benefit is also available to workers who stopped working due to the coronavirus pandemic between March 1 and 14, 2020. This $1,000 one-time payment is for BC workers whose ability to work has been affected by the pandemic.

To apply, you’ll need your social insurance number and your direct deposit information. You can apply online or by phone. You should receive your payment within 10 business days.

The provincial government’s website explains eligibility requirements and how to apply.