The End of CERB and The Federal Government's Plans Moving Forward

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit has been instrumental in supporting those affected by the current global COVID-19 pandemic. While providing the $2,000 for every four-week period helped to stabilize a questionable point in economic history, the benefit plan has ended, but that does not mean Canadians who depend on that support are left without some form of aid.

The federal government is currently enacting a $37 billion transition plan to help Canadians move to a more feasible and accessible Employment Insurance program. While many Canadians who were not traditionally provided access to such a program, the government has implemented changes to the current EI structure and created three new temporary benefits.

While many Canadians remain worried about the impact and financial recovery from COVID-19, they can rest assured that though the CERB plan is ending, the EI program's new and expanded measures will still provide relief. However, it is crucial to know the changes are only effective for the next year. Therefore, it is vital to understand the available options and take advantage.

Easing the Transition

The federal government does not wish to make the required transition more complicated than necessary. Canadians who currently meet the EI program's eligibility requirements and are collecting CERB through Service Canada do not need to do anything; the transfer will be automatic.

If collecting through the Canada Revenue Agency, recipients will need to apply for EI. The discrepancy is due to the operation of the EI program, which is run through Service Canada. As the two agencies are separate current datasets are not compatible, requiring manual applications.

While the government is doing all it can to make the transition seamless, unlike with the CERB program, Canadians participating in the EI program will need to reapply every two weeks. Self-reporting of employment status is necessary for receiving EI support.

EI Changes

In preparation for the transition away from CERB, the federal government has created temporary changes to the EI program, allowing potentially 400,000 more people to qualify for the program than before. While the change does not help all CERB recipients, the expanded eligibility requirements will allow for more than half of CERB recipients to participate in the EI program, according to estimates from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Regular EI benefits aid individuals who lost their job involuntarily and who are actively seeking employment. The new EI special benefits will cover those who cannot work despite having a job due to specific circumstances, like sickness, parental benefits, maternity, or compassionate care.

The changes mean that Canadians with three-and-a-half weeks of work, or 120 insurable hours, can still receive the same level of financial security provided under the CERB program, $500 per week for up to 26 weeks. Many Canadians may also be eligible for extended parental benefits of $300 per week for the same term.

As an added incentive, the government is also enacting the Working While on Claim Rules. Under the provision, EI claimants may still receive a portion of their benefits and the entirety of their earnings from work.

New Benefit Plans for Those Ineligible for EI

Unfortunately, while the EI expansion is meant to secure benefits for those most in need, it will not account for every CERB recipient. The CCPA expects that more than two million CERB recipients will still not be eligible for the EI changes. To further help Canadians through the pandemic financial crisis, the government passed Bill C-4, which expands benefits through three new programs: Canada Recovery Benefit, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

The Canada Recovery Benefit is a benefit for gig workers or those who are self-employed. These individuals are not eligible for the EI program, even with the expanded eligibility rules. The CRB will provide the same financial relief as the CERB programs, $500 per week, but it will only extend to those workers affected by COVID-19, or who have seen a 50% drop in their income due to the virus. Individuals who apply for the CRB benefits must be actively seeking work and must accept any reasonable offer.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides financial relief to those who must self-isolate or who are sick. The benefit provides $500 per week for up to two weeks. The measure is meant to ensure that all Canadians have paid sick leave.

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit is a benefits package for those individuals who need to care for a family member or a child under 12. With the virus shutting down many daycare facilities and schools, the $500 per week CRCB benefit is a supplement to help people over the next 26 weeks. The CRCB is also useful to those caring for people who are required to quarantine or are sick.

The federal government is doing all they can to help support Canadians during this time of need. However, even with the expansion to EI and additional benefits, some Canadians will be left without support. If you fall into this unfortunate category, then consider working with LoanConnect.


*Interest rates are subject to change at any time and may vary by province.