Updates to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

There’s been a lot of conflicting and inaccurate information circulating on social media about the CERB benefit.  For individuals who are employees that have been laid off, the eligibility and application process is fairly simple.

However in the original roll out of the CERB benefit, self-employed contractors, Sole Proprietors and small businesses were not eligible for any financial support.  Essentially the self-employed were completely left out.  It’s definitely been a stressful, chaotic time for small business owners who’ve been deemed ‘non-essential’ and are unable to continue working in any way.

Even more heartbreaking are all the ‘deemed’ non-essential businesses, especially those with ‘brick and mortar’ store fronts that have had to close down during the Pandemic while overheads such as rent, utilities, telephone, insurance, leases for equipment and loan payments still need to be paid.  The burden to meet overhead costs is high while the financial support up to now has been non-existent.

Thankfully the government rolled out new modifications to the CERB eligibility and income criteria yesterday which will help many who are self-employed.  I’m sharing details on the latest information which was updated on April 16th, 2020.

I’ve listed details below for both Individuals who have lost income because they’re working less hours and the Self-Employed who will now qualify for assistance under the updated CERB benefit.  I’ve also highlighted the new eligibility criteria and income limitation for the Self-Employed as it’s very important to respect the parameters to receive this benefit.  This information is taken from the CERB application website, to read more click here. 

What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit and Who is Eligible

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The CERB Benefit is available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
  • Who have not quit their job voluntarily

When submitting your first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of your claim.

When submitting subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire four-week benefit period of your new claim.

Provided it is allowed in your province or territory, you may also receive provincial or territorial support payments at the same time you receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

What income types of count towards the $5,000 in employment and/or self-employment income?

The $5,000 includes all employment and self-employment income. This includes among others: tips you have declared as income; non-eligible dividends; honoraria (e.g. nominal amounts paid to emergency service volunteers); and royalties (e.g. paid to artists).  If you are not eligible for Employment Insurance, you may also include maternity and parental benefits you received from the Employment Insurance program and/or similar benefits paid in Quebec under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.  Pensions, student loans and bursaries are not considered employment income and should not be included.

What counts towards the $1,000 in income I can earn?

The $1,000 includes employment and/or self-employment income.  This includes among others: tips you may earn while working; non-eligible dividends; honoraria (e.g. nominal amounts paid to emergency service volunteers); and royalties (e.g. paid to artists) you may receive within the four-week benefit period.

Pensions, student loans and bursaries are not employment income and therefore, should not be included in the $1000.

Note:  Applications will be verified against tax records to confirm income.

How to apply:

To deliver payments to Canadians in a fast and easy way, the CERB is being jointly delivered by Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency.  Do not apply for the CERB if you have already applied for EI.

Lastly, it’s also important to file your 2019 tax returns now rather than waiting until the extended filing deadline.  This will help to position yourself to qualify for and optimize further benefits you may be eligible for under a number of additional assistance measures the government has implemented.

I’m happy to look after your personal and business tax returns for you.  Please be assured that everything can be done virtually with no physical contact.  To send me an email using the Contact Us page or click here.

Take care and stay safe, we will get through these challenging times!

Warmest Regards,

Mary Pougnet

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