The CERB and economic response plan: What you need to know

As a result of the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Canada has been implementing measures to help Canadians navigate potential financial hardship. From unemployment assistance to RRIF changes, here are the highlights.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The CERB provides $2,000 a month, for up to four months, in temporary income support to workers who have stopped working or are without employment for reasons related to COVID-19.

The benefit will be available to wage earners, contract workers or self-employed individuals; those who have had to stay home without pay to self-isolate or care for loved ones; and anyone else    who hasn’t been permanently laid off but has stopped receiving paycheques.

Applications are accepted online and by phone, with payments to arrive within five days for direct deposits and within ten days for cheques by mail.

How to apply

1. The Government of Canada website.

2. Over the phone with an automated phone service: 1 800 959-2019 or 1 800 959-2041.

For more information, please visit the Canada Emergency Response Benefit webpage.


Employment insurance

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, whether or not you are eligible for employment insurance (EI). Canadians

who are eligible for employment insurance and who have lost their job can continue to apply for employment insurance.

If you became eligible for regular or sickness EI benefits on March 15, 2020, or later, your claim will be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

If you are already receiving regular EI benefits, you will continue to receive these benefits until the end of your benefit period. You cannot be paid EI benefits and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for the same period.

For more information, please visit the Questions and Answers on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit webpage.


Additional support for individuals and families

Canada Child Benefit

The government is increasing the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts for the 2019–2020 benefit year by $300 per child. It estimates that the average increase for families receiving the CCB will be approximately $550. Visit this Government  of  Canada  webpage  for more information.

Registered Retirement Income Funds

The required minimum withdrawal from your Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) will be reduced by 25% for 2020. Visit this Government of Canada webpage for more information.

GST credit

The government is offering a one-time special payment starting April 9 through the Goods and Services Tax credit for low- and modest-income families. The average additional benefit will be  close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. Visit this Government of Canada webpage for more information.

Tax filing deadline

The filing due date for 2019 income tax returns for individuals has been deferred until June 1, 2020. Any new income tax balances due, or instalments, are also being deferred until after August 31, 2020, without incurring interest or penalties.

If you expect to receive benefits under the Goods and Services Tax credit or the Canada Child Benefit, it is suggested that you not delay filing your 2019 income tax return, so as to ensure that your entitlements are properly determined. Visit this Government of Canada webpage for more information.

Student loans

The government announced a six-month interest-free pause on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans. Additionally, no interest will be added on these loans for six months. Visit this Government of Canada webpage for more information.


Support for businesses


The new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will cover 75% of salaries for qualifying businesses, for up to three months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy are eligible, apart from public-sector entities.

Eligible employers can access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal.

For more information, please visit the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy webpage.

Reduced and deferred payments

The government is allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief applies to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.

No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Additionally, businesses, including self-employed individuals, can defer GST/HST payment until June 30, 2020, as well as customs duty owing on their imports.

Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May. These amounts would normally be due to be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as   the end of March 2020.

For more information, please visit the Income tax filing and payment dates: CRA and COVID-19 webpage.

Business loans

The Government of Canada has launched the Canada Emergency Business Account to ensure   that small businesses have access to the capital they need to see them through the current challenges. Eligible financial institutions will implement the Canada Emergency Business Account  in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).

The program will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Up to $10,000 of that amount will be eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.

Please note that these programs roll out in mid-April, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.

For more information, please visit the Canada Emergency Business Account webpage.

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