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Government support measures for individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic

From tax expert Gerry Vittoratos
April 14 2020

The Federal government has announced support measures for individuals who have lost their income during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is a new taxable benefit that will provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit announced in the Economic Response Plan.

Who is eligible?

You are eligible for the CERB if you are:

  • a worker who must stop working due to COVID19 and does not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • a worker who is sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • a working parent who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  •  a worker who still has their employment but is not being paid because there is currently not enough work and your employer has asked you not to come to work.
  • a wage earner and self-employed individual, including contract worker, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

Update: On April 15th the federal government announced the following changes:

  • Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month (work and self-employment income, non-eligible dividends, and royalties) while collecting the CERB.
  • Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19.
  • Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19.
  • Artists are permitted to receive royalties for copyrighted works produced before March 1 while receiving the CERB

For 2019, or within the 12 months preceding the application, you must have earned at least $5,000 in employment, self-employment, employment insurance (EI) and parental benefits. You must also be unemployment for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which you apply for the payment.

The eligibility periods are:




 March 15, 2020, to April 11, 2020 


 April 12, 2020, to May 9, 2020 


 May 10, 2020, to June 6, 2020 


 June 7, 2020, to July 4, 2020 


 July 5, 2020, to August 1, 2020


 August 2, 2020, to August 29, 2020


 August 30, 2020, to September 26, 2020

The benefit will not be paid to anybody who resigns from their job voluntarily.

How much can you receive and for how long?

As mentioned above, the benefit amount will be $2,000 per month, or $500 per week.  It will be paid for up to 4 months. The amounts received will be taxable for the 2020 tax year.

When and where can you apply?

Application for the CERB will be open in early April. The deadline to apply for this benefit is December 2, 2020. You can apply for the benefit through the following site:

Payments for the CERB will be made within 10 days of submitting the application.

For more information on the CERB, and the Economic Response Plan, please consult the link below:


Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

This benefit will be paid to post-secondary students (current or who register for the fall session) or recent graduates (December 2019) who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The benefit paid to eligible students will be $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependants or disabilities.

Just like the CERB, eligible students can still claim the CESB as long as they don’t earn more than $1,000 per month.

The benefit will be available from May to August 2020 and will be paid by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG)

The grant will be paid to eligible students who gain work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic.

For eligible students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the CSSG will provide between $1,000 to $5,000 for their education in the fall session.

Student Grants and other financial assistance programs

The government also announced changes to existing programs.

Canada Student Grants for all eligible students will double to up to $6,000 for full-time students and $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The grants for students with permanent disabilities and students with dependants will also double.

The Canada Student Loans Program will be enhanced by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.

Eligibility for student financial assistance has been broadened by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.

Expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships will be extended, and the government will increase funding for existing federal research grants.

For more information on these changes, please consult the link below:


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