In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian Government established the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”). CERB provides workers with $500 per week for up to 16 weeks if the worker has stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19.

The federal government website setting out the rules around eligibility and the application process states that workers are eligible for benefits under CERB if they:

  • Reside in Canada and are at least 15 years old; 
  • Have stopped working for reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020; 
  • Had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
  • Have not quit their job voluntarily.

Additionally, applicants submitting their first or a subsequent claim, must not have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of the first or subsequent claim.

CERB for Temporary Foreign Residents

The Canadian government had previously announced that the CERB is available to non-citizens and permanent residents, as long as they meet the eligibility requirements, which include residing in Canada and having a valid Social Insurance Number.

Additionally, last week, it was reported that the federal government has taken new steps to make it easier for international students and other temporary foreign residents to receive CERB benefits.

According to a memo sent to claims processors for CERB, short-term immigrants are only required to give their word that they have a valid work permit or have applied for a renewed one in order to obtain CERB payments. Up until this change, such workers had been required to email an image of their valid work or work/study permit or confirmation they had applied to renew an expired one, to Employment and Social Development Canada.

However, this email requirement has been waived and those processing CERB claims are now only required to verbally obtain confirmation of an applicant’s work permit details, according to the memo sent to Employment and Social Development Canada officials handling CERB applications. 

This directive will apply to otherwise eligible CERB applicants who have a “900-series” Social Insurance Number, which includes applicants ranging from students to refugee claimants to temporary foreign workers and executives transferred from other countries, all of whom are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

Further Information

The CERB benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020, but may only be claimed for 16 weeks during that time. Applicants must file their claim no later than December 2, 2020 for payments retroactive to a date within that period.

Applicants are asked to apply online, but may also apply by calling the toll free number 1-833-966-2099.

CERB is available to those who stop working for reasons related to COVID-19, such as: 

  • Losing their job;
  • They are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19;
  • They are taking care of others who are in quarantine or sick due to COVID-19; and/or
  • They are taking care of children or other dependents whose care facility is closed due to COVID-19.

However, a worker is not eligible for the benefit if they voluntarily quit their job.

Applicants will be asked to provide their personal contact information, their Social Insurance Number and to confirm that they meet the eligibility requirements. Recipients of CERB payments may be asked to provide additional documentation to verify their eligibility at a future date. Applicants are not required to provide a medical certificate to prove they are in quarantine or sick from COVID-19. Additionally, a Record of Employment is not required to apply for CERB, although employers are encouraged to provide a Record of Employment in the event that any employee should subsequently apply for Employment Insurance benefits.

It should also be noted that an applicant’s eligibility will largely be based on information provided by the applicant. If an applicant received benefits based on incorrect or invalid information, they will likely be required to repay any amounts extended to them under the CERB program.

Get Advice

It is a difficult time for all, and the situation is constantly evolving. The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law continue to monitor changes closely and will provide ongoing updates as the situation evolves. If you have questions about how COVID-19 might impact your business’s immediate and long-range immigration needs, or an existing or in-progress work permit, please reach out to the immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law by contacting us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.

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