Transition of CERB to CRB

With the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing to develop, September marks a transition for Canada. The country is moving from being in lockdown to living with COVID-19, and one of the first steps is switching over from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

What is CERB?

CERB was an $82 billion benefit where Canadians could receive $2,000 for every four-week period where they were out of work or made less than $1,000 in income. The requirements for qualify were pretty broad, meaning most Canadians were able to collect unemployment during the pandemic. All you had to do to qualify was show that you were a working adult who had lost your main income source due to the pandemic. Applicants didn’t have to have Employment Insurance (EI) or pay taxes in order to qualify.

The new CRB is a $30 billion plan that has stricter requirements and is a little bit more complicated. To qualify, you have to be able to show that you worked at least 120 insurable hours over the previous 52 weeks/1 year. You also have to show that you are not eligible for Employment Insurance and that you are out of a job explicitly because of the COVID 19 pandemic. If you lost your job for another reason, you will not be eligible for CRB. The Canadian Recovery Benefit is meant to help workers who have seen at least a 50% reduction in their income or self-employment income over the last few months.

Here are the specific requirements listed on the government website:

  • You must be at least 15 years of age with a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN).
  • You cannot be eligible for EI.
  • You must have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020 and worked for at least 120 days in the preceding 52 weeks.
  • You must have been forced to stop working because of the pandemic and be actively searching for work. You can also qualify if you’ve seen a significant reduction in your income because of the pandemic.
  • You must have been forced to leave your job, and show that you haven’t left it voluntarily.

If you are able to qualify, the CRB benefit will enable you to collect $500 per week of taxable income for as many as 26 weeks, which is the same amount that Canadians collected on CERB for the last several months. The payments will be made in two-week installments. Canadians can apply 13 times for the benefit before it ends.

To continue receiving aid, CRB recipients will need to reapply every two weeks to prove that they still meet the eligibility requirements. You are also still eligible to receive the aid if you are earning income, so long as the above requirements are still met. If your annual income exceeds $38,000 at the end of the year though, you may be required to pay back part of or all of the CRB benefit that you received, so make sure you consider carefully before applying to receive aid if you are currently working or secure a job soon.

If you don’t qualify for CRB, you may qualify for another benefit. The government also announced the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), which provides $500 each week of taxable income for as many as 26 weeks. This benefit is meant to cover workers who cannot work for at least half of the week because they have to provide care for children that are under 12 or sick family members because care facilities, daycare businesses, and schools are closed. This can also apply if your family is quarantined because of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your household that isn’t you.

This should not be confused with the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), which provides $500 of taxable income a week for up to two weeks for workers who have to quarantine because they themselves have a confirmed case of COVID-19 and are unable to work because of it.

With CERB being replaced by CRB, CRCB, and CRSB, there is naturally a lot of confusion surrounding which benefit to apply to for many Canadians who are about to lose or have just lost their unemployment benefit. While the guidelines still need to be cleared up slightly, a good place to start is by looking at the government websites and going through the guidelines one by one to see which is the best fit.

Check out the government of Canada's website for more info