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Call for a Fresh Financial Start

The CERB Is Over: What Now?

October 23, 2020

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The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has officially come to an end, but what about the people are still jobless, struggling and in need of financial support to help them get through the next phase of the pandemic?

The federal government has made new announcements to transition Canadians who are still out of work due to COVID-19 to Employment Insurance (EI).

Through this transition, we’ve been fielding questions about these new changes and here are some of the most common post-CERB questions:

1. How do I make a claim?

Most people who were collecting CERB will automatically transition to EI, which will provide a taxable benefit of at least $500 a week, or $300 a week for extended parental benefits. EI claimants are eligible for at least 26 weeks.

Canadians who need to apply for EI include:

  • People with 900-series social insurance numbers, such as temporary foreign workers and international students.
  • Self-employed workers who received benefits through Service Canada.
  • Canadians who received CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency but could have 120 insurable hours and could meet other eligibility criteria. CRA officials have started to proactively reach out to roughly 400,000 people in this category.

2. How is the EI application process different from CERB?

The biggest difference is that EI applications will go through Service Canada and not the Canada Revenue Agency. If you have already been receiving CERB through Service Canada and are already eligible for EI, you should have automatically been transitioned to EI benefits when CERB ended at the end of September. If you are eligible for EI but have been receiving CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency, you will need to apply through Service Canada.

Another main difference between the CERB and EI process is the reporting requirements and frequency. Once you have applied and completed your first biweekly report, you can expect receive your first payment within 28 days. You will then be required to continue to submit biweekly reports that show you are still eligible to receive EI benefits. 

3. How will the CERB to EI transition affect my financial assistance payments?

The CERB was very straight-forward. Everyone who applied received $2000 a month. EI is a bit different in that earnings for all Canadians can be averaged out over the best 14 weeks of employment. There are, of course, minimum and maximum amounts.

According to the new rules, updated late September, the minimum benefit will be $500 a week, which matches CERB, for up to 26 weeks. The maximum will be $573. The amount receive is based on your past earnings. Like CERB, these amounts are taxable.

4. Can I work while I receive EI benefits?

Yes, the new EI is meant to encourage Canadians to find employment if they can. In fact, if you’re collecting EI payments, you’ve got to be making “reasonable and ongoing job search efforts”. Those efforts can include reaching out to employers, preparing a resume or cover letter, registering and searching job banks and submitting job applications.

Recipients who meet the EI requirements will be able to earn up to $38,000 in annual net income from employment or self-employment while receiving payments. Beyond that threshold, you would have to repay 50 cents for every additional dollar earned.

5. What if I don’t qualify for EI?

The government created three new benefits for Canadians who don’t qualify for EI, providing a payment of $500 a week:

  • The Canada recovery benefit is for the self-employed or gig workers who don’t qualify for EI.
  • The Canada recovery sickness benefit is for workers who are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19.
  • The Canada recovery caregiving benefit is for people who can’t work because they need to care for a child or dependent for reasons related to COVID-19.

We understand that even with the continued financial assistance from the government, it may not be enough. If you’re struggling with debt and unable to make your minimum payments, it might be time to speak to a licensed debt professional to help you understand your options and become more financially secure.  

These continue to be challenging times for everyone, and our team is committed and focused on helping you through these difficult times. Give us a call at 778-762-0822 or click here to book a free, confidential consultation. There’s absolutely no obligation to move forward – it’s just a great chance to discuss your options, ask any questions and get some advice on how to best move forward.

Click here to read more about the temporary changes to EI due to COVID-19. 

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