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Everything you need to know about CERB

CHRIS LOWREY
Pontiac April 15, 2020
Last Monday, Canadians that were laid off from their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic got access to the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) portal.
The program will give Canadians $500 per week in a monthly installment totalling $2,000.
Since the CERB is handed out in four-week installments, those who apply will have to reapply every four weeks up to a total of 16 weeks.
There are several different application periods for the CERB.
For those born in January, February or March, the best day to apply is Monday; Tuesdays are the best days to apply for those born in April, May or June; Wednesdays are the best day for those born in July, August or September; Thursdays are the best days for those born in October, November or December; and Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are days where Canadians born in any month can apply.
Those who apply for direct deposit can expect to see the moneyin their account within three business days.
For those not opting for the online payment, they can expect to see the money arrive within ten business days.
Applicants can go to the Canada Revenue Agency website to get started on their application.
For those applying for Employment Insurance, they will now be funnelled through the CERB system in order to streamline the process and reduce complications.
The goal of rolling the Employment Insurance together with the CERB is to get money in the hands of those who need it as quickly as possible. Those already in the Employment Insurance system will be rolled into the CERB.
“It became very clear to our government at an early stage that providing the social security that is required when you have massive job losses through the E.I. system was going to set us up for failure,” Pontiac Liberal MP Will Amos said. “So, we shifted gears and we built a new machine.”
However, for those whose application for Employment Insurance is not related to COVID-19 – for instance those on parental leave – they would still use the Employment Insurance system.
Those who are working reduced hours as a result of the virus are also not covered. The CERB is specifically for those who no longer have any employment.
Canadians are eligible to receive the CERB for up to 16 weeks and the program is in effect until Oct. 3.
In order to qualify for the CERB, you must meet the following conditions: You must be at least 15 years old and reside in Canada; you have stopped working because of COVID-19; you have earned at least $5,000 in the 12 months prior to the application; and you have been or expect to be off work for at least 14 days out of the initial four-week period.
The message seems to be getting out as more than 1 million Canadians applied for the CERB on the first day.
“The application process went smoothly – remarkably so,” Amos said. “We’re talking between one and two million applicants, it’s a herculean task.”
He points to the mobilization of the federal civil service and the hard work of those civil servants taking on jobs that are typically outside of their area of expertise.
“Department by department, it’s just a full-on shift,” Amos said.
Amos has received news from some constituents who’ve already received their CERB benefit checks.
And with the Phoenix pay debacle fresh in the minds of many – especially here in the Outaouais – Amos understands the concerns some people have but said the system appears to be working well.
“One is always concerned about automated government systems, particularly when it comes to automated payments to people’s bank accounts, but it seems to be working,” Amos said. “Nothing’s ever perfect. This is government. We’re just a bunch of humans trying to do massive and complex things in a coordinated way. There are bound to be challenges.”
But despite the size of the undertaking, Amos is happy with how Canada’s public service has responded.
“The overriding sense is that we’re accomplishing something quite significant in a moment of crisis – at light speed,” Amos said.

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