Today, the Canadian government announced a new support package for Canadian business owners and their employees who are affected by COVID-19. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will replace two previously announced benefits, the Emergency Care Benefit & Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB will give qualified workers who have lost income due to COVID-19, including those who have reduced work hours, are caring for ill relatives or are now staying at home to care for children, etc., up to $2,000 per month for up to four months.

Details to follow over the coming days.

What we know so far

How does the CERB help small businesses?

Workers affected by COVID-19–business owners and employees alike–will have extra support to cover lost income and meet their financial obligations.

According to the Prime Minister, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of COVID-19-related disruptions to their work situation, will qualify for the CERB.

Who is eligible to apply for the CERB?

Any workers who do not qualify for EI are eligible to apply, including wage workers, self-employed and contract workers.

Should my laid-off employees apply for the CERB?

Any workers who are EI eligible and have applied to that program should not apply to CERB. This benefit is for workers who would not normally qualify for EI benefits.

Anyone who has applied for the previous relief programs (Emergency Care Benefit & Emergency Support Benefit) will be automatically migrated to the new benefit and does not need to reapply.

If I have to lay off my employees, what should they do?

Those eligible for EI should still apply for their EI benefits.

What if I need to reduce my employees’ hours after the benefit is rolled out?

The CERB will be paid every four weeks for up to four months until October 3, 2020. Employees who are affected by COVID-19 can apply to the benefit once their income is interrupted.

When will the CERB be available?

The government aims to have the application portal online by April 6. Once an application is received, the expected timeline for direct deposit to an applicant’s bank account is expected to be 10 business days.

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