Most countries, besides the USA and a few others, think they have done the right thing in their approach to COVID-19, medically and economically.

Canada is one of the countries that can pat themselves on the back for their pandemic approach. There was a swift response, lots of informative communication, an early lockdown. Health officials were listened to and just, generally, a more cautious response. Even the financial impact was quickly looked at and CERB was launched, giving wage earners $2000/month. This kept food on the table and maintained a little bit of action in the economy.

Unfortunately, CERB is short-sighted, as pointed out by a survey done by the Universities of Toronto and Alberta. People with disabilities and chronic health conditions are high risk for COVID-19 and CERB doesn’t address the needs of any person who deviates from “the norm”.

Non-Qualifiers

If you are disabled and/or have a health condition you can claim disability payouts but not ongoing COVID-19 benefits. This is being addressed with authorities but there is no resolution currently which is very unfortunate.

In the survey, one immunocompromised person commented that they already live on $400 less than those getting CERB. The person stated that they are often told “to be grateful for what they get, but they cannot survive on the disability payment with costs going up and income increases not on the horizon.

High-risk people cannot return to their regular work as business owners or employees. It is impossible to live on disability payments only. The disability payment covers the extra costs that come with disability. Therefore, CERB should be paid with the disability.

Who Is Eligible For CERB?

These are the criteria needed to qualify for CERB:

  • You must reside in Canada, and you are over the age of 15 years old.
  • Your work and income were stopped as a direct result of COVID-19 legislation.
  • You earned an income last year (2019) or you earned income in the 12 months prior to your application date of application. The income was at least $5000.
  • You have been without income for a minimum of 14 days, or you expect to be without pay for that amount of time.
  • Suppose you present a 900 series SIN when applying and you are a working non-Canadian or permanent resident or a temporary foreign worker or an international student. In that case, you might qualify IF you also meet the other eligibility requirements.
  • Those with disabilities will only receive one payment. A $600 special, one-time, tax-free, non-reportable payment.

Note: CERB is only available to individuals who have experienced a total loss of income for at least 14 days and continue to have no employment income for the duration of the claim period.

Exceptions

  • You are permitted to earn up to $1000 per month while collecting CERB.
  • If you are a seasonal worker and have been claiming EI regular benefits, you may qualify for CERB if your EI benefits have run out and a) cannot find new work, b) cannot return to work because of COVID.

What is the tax on CERB?

CERB is an income, and it must be reported accordingly. The tax on it will vary depending on your overall submission. 

Do I Lose My EI Benefits?

If you claim for EI from March 15, 2020, and it was a direct link to COVID-19, then your claim will be converted to a CERB request. This includes approved or pending claims.

This does not cancel out your EI rights. If you cannot find employment after 16 weeks of CERB or can’t return to work, you can do your EI application.

How to Apply for CERB

To apply for CERB, self-employed workers must visit Canada.ca. and answer a few simple questions

If you want to help in working through your CERB application, give us a call today and let us get you the best benefits possible. We can also guide you on your future tax submission relating to 2020 income, making some of the stress of 2020 just a little less.

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