Canada's NDP


April 9th, 2020

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

This page provides information on the federal government’s announced and implemented COVID-19 response and relief programs. It is current as of April 9.

If you have any questions, difficulty, or confusion navigating these or other federal programs or agencies, please contact my office. We are here to help.

I have brought on extra staff to assist with constituent questions and issues during this time and we are monitoring email 7 days a week.


What is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, is a direct income support for workers who have stopped working because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides $2,000 per four-week period for up to 16 weeks. The money is taxable income.

As of the posting date above, to be eligible you need to have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have no income for at least 14 consecutive days. This must be true for every four-week period when you wish to receive the benefit. You also must have earned at least $5,000 in either 2019 or in the last twelve months, be at least 15, and have a valid SIN.

How do I apply for CERB?

You can apply online or by phone. For phone call either 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

To keep the system running smoothly, the federal government has asked people to stagger when they apply based on their birth month:

  • January, February, March on Mondays
  • April, May, June on Tuesdays
  • July, August, September on Wednesdays
  • October, November, December on Thursdays

Anyone can apply on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays

To begin applying, and for more information, check this website from the Government of Canada.

What other supports are there for individuals?

The government is also temporarily increasing how much people will receive from GST rebates and the Canada Child Benefit (or CCB). You don’t need to apply for either of these, you should automatically receive them if you are eligible. The government sent out a special extra GST rebate payment on April 9. The CCB is going up by $300 per child for the 2019-20 year.

You can find the government’s full list of supports for individuals here.

What is the wage subsidy program?

A 10% wage subsidy to help employers retain workers was initially announced. Thanks in part to pressure from the NDP, the government subsequently announced an additional subsidy program with a larger subsidy of 75%.

The 75% wage subsidy, called the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, has been proposed but may take several weeks to be implemented. As of the day this is posted, the government is saying that it will be available for employers whose revenue has declined by at least 15% in March, and 30% in following months. It will pay businesses for 75% of employees’ pay, up to $847 per week per employee. You can find the government’s description here.

The 10% program, called the Temporary Wage Subsidy, allows businesses to reduce their payroll remittances by up to 10% of employee’s pay, up to $1,375 per employee and a total of $25,000 per employer. The government has more information available here.

What other supports are there for businesses?

The government also said they will be offering interest free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and non-profits through Canada Emergency Business Accounts. To be eligible, businesses will have to have paid between $50,000 and $1,000,000 in payroll in 2019. As of the day this is posted, the government is saying organizations will be able to talk to their financial institutions to apply by mid-April.

You can find more info on the government’s supports for businesses here.

I’m self-employed. Am I eligible for benefits?

Self-employed people can apply for the CERB if they are eligible. Income from self-employment counts towards the required $5,000. Alternatively, depending how you have set up your business, you may be able to use some of the supports for businesses like the wage subsidies.

What happens to people who are already on or applying for EI?

People who are already receiving EI will continue to receive it. You cannot receive money from both EI and CERB at the same time.

If you have just recently applied for EI, your application may be automatically transferred to the CERB program instead. Your application will be transferred to CERB if you became eligible for EI on March 15 or later. For example: if you were laid off on March 10 your application will go through the normal EI process, but if you were laid off on March 20 you will receive CERB instead.

As of the day this is posted, the government is indicating that receiving CERB won’t affect your eligibility for EI, and that you can apply for EI once your CERB runs out.

I’m a student. Are there supports for me?

Student loan payments on all federal loans have been suspended until September 30. No interest will accrue on loans between now and then. You don’t need to apply to receive this pause.

On April 8, the Prime Minister announced that the government would be expanding the employee subsidy for the Canada Summer Jobs program and extending the employment timeline into next winter. We are still waiting for details.

As of posting this, students are only eligible for the CERB if they meet the specific employment criteria – stopped working due to COVID-19 during targeted time etc. I and my NDP colleagues are pushing the government to extend the benefit to everyone whose income has been impacted due to COVID-19 including students and recent graduates.

I don’t qualify for CERB but I need support from the government. What do I do?

Unfortunately, as of posting this, the CERB only covers certain individuals and many Canadians whose livelihoods are impacted by COVID-19 are being left behind. These include students and recent graduates, people looking for work, people whose income has decreased significantly but not entirely, and many others.

This is why I, along with Jagmeet and the NDP caucus, have been calling on the government to make COVID-19 support payments universal. During a public health crisis, this support is not optional. People are worried about their health and their loved ones. They must not be abandoned at this critical time. They must have the means to do their part to protect the public health.

We will keep working to fix CERB. The government has already partially adopted NDP proposals including the $2,000 biweekly minimum for individuals and the 75% wage subsidy. We know they are listening.

I need help with my mortgage or rent payment. What do I do?

The government has asked banks to offer mortgage deferrals or other payment options to people who need them, but it is up to the banks to determine the details. Please note - some banks may have deadlines for mortgage deferral applications. Depending on your mortgage, a deferral on payments could affect your credit rating, and, in most situations, you may still accrue interest. You should talk to your financial institution for details and to see if you are eligible.

Jagmeet Singh and the NDP have been calling on the government to implement a moratorium on payments for rent, mortgages, and utilities. Canadians need support during this crisis and the banks should not be profiting from the situation.

We continue to push the government to protect renters, homeowners, and all Canadians during this crisis.