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CERB program ends as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

Last Updated Sep 28, 2020 at 12:08 am EDT

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) established to support Canadians financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic ended on Sunday.

The federal income assistance program provided more than 8.5 million individuals with $2,000 a month starting April 6.

In its place is employment insurance (EI), which the government says the majority of people will go on.

Anyone who applied for and received the CERB through Service Canada and is eligible for EI is supposed to be automatically transitioned over to employment insurance. Anyone who applied and received the CERB through the CRA would need to apply anew for EI, if they qualify.

The government says the first payment will come the week of Oct. 11. About 80 per cent are expected to receive payments by Oct. 14; a further 10 per cent within the first two weeks.

The $500-a-week floor on benefits in EI, or $300 per week floor for new parents using the extended-leave option, will be taxable. Jobless benefits through this EI program will be available for at least 26 weeks, and claimants will be allowed to earn more than they did under the CERB — up to $38,000 annually, before being completely cut off.

The threshold to qualify for EI has been reduced to 120 hours of insurable work for those coming back into the system that has been nearly dormant since March.

The government says 2.8 million people will qualify for EI as of Monday.

Three new benefits have also been added:

  • The Canada Recovery Benefit: $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to self-employed workers or those not eligible for EI but still need income support.
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: $500 per week for up to two weeks, for those who cannot work because they are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible workers who cannot work because they must care for children or family members due to the closure of schools, day cares or care facilities.

Click here for more info on federal financial assistance.

Meanwhile cases continue to soar in Ontario, adding to fears of another potential lockdown.

On Friday, Premier Ford ordered bars and restaurants to close by midnight and ordered all strip clubs to close.

Ontario reported 491 new cases on Sunday — the highest number of cases since May.

With files from Jordan Press, The Canadian Press