Life After CERB - What Will You Do?

Posted on Saturday 03 April 2021


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The pandemic has taken a toll on us all: physically, emotionally, and financially. Small businesses, employees, and self-employed individuals are all under a huge amount of financial pressure to stay afloat through closures, restrictions, and general uneasiness about how the economy will recover.

Thankfully, if you were eligible for CERB (Canada Emergency Recovery Benefits), you were able to soften the blow with $2,000 for a four-week period. But what happens after CERB? If you aren’t able to return to work (or if your employment has shifted dramatically in the wake of COVID), what other options are available to you?

Whether you are an employee, self-employed, or a business owner, there are plenty of programs and alternative solutions to consider once the CERB runs out. In the sections below, we’ll outline some key steps that you can take to help guide you through life after CERB. Also remember, on some CERB related benefits, you might need to pay back some through taxes. Just something to keep in mind.


Find out if you’re eligible for other government programs

The Canadian government has sponsored a number of programs to provide financial support throughout the pandemic. If you’re eligible, these programs can make a big difference in ensuring that your financial health stays strong throughout trying times. We’ve outlined the big ones below:

Employment Insurance

Being unemployed is tough at any time, but particularly so during a global pandemic. Your employer may have shut down temporarily due to public health restrictions, safety concerns, or a drop in business. If you are currently unemployed due to COVID-19, you can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) to help fill the gaps.

The Canadian government has made temporary changes to EI to help support unemployed workers during the pandemic, offering a minimum benefit of $500 per week. (This includes self-employed folks, too.) Once you’ve received all CERB payments, you’ll either be automatically converted to EI or need to send in a separate application. Here’s how that works:

If your CERB payments came through Service Canada, you’ll be automatically converted to Employment Insurance if you qualify. You’ll be notified via mail if you don’t qualify.

In some cases, however, you will need to send in an EI application. This includes those whose SIN begins with a 9, those who are self-employed, and those who have returned to full-time work on their last CERB report.

If your CERB payments came through the Canada Revenue Agency, you must submit a separate application for EI. Depending on the type of benefits you choose, you will need to continue to submit reports to ensure that EI payments are renewed. You can expect to receive your first payment within 28 days of submitting your application.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

What happens if you’re not eligible to receive EI benefits? If you were eligible for the CERB, chances are high that you will also be eligible for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). The CRB provides direct financial support for employees and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID (and who don’t qualify for EI).

The CRB is dispersed in two-week increments, with qualified individuals receiving $1,000 biweekly. If your financial situation has not improved once your two weeks are up, you’ll need to apply again. You can receive the CRB for up to 19 two-week periods (a total of 38 weeks).

The Canada Recovery Benefit can be applied for at any time between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is designed to help support employed and self-employed individuals who cannot work due to COVID-19. This might mean that you are sick, need to self-isolate, or have an underlying health condition that puts you at risk of serious side effects from contracting COVID. If you’re eligible, you can get $500 per week. Each application is for one-week periods, and you can receive the CRSB for up to four weeks.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is open for applications throughout September 25, 2021.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

If you have young children at home, or if caring for a sick family member has impacted your ability to work during the pandemic, you may qualify for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).

This gives weekly payments of $500 to parents who are unable to work for at least 50 percent of the week due to school closures and daycare closures from COVID-19. The CRCB also provides financial relief for caregivers who are taking care of a sick loved one at home, or for those who must quarantine as a result of a family member either contracting COVID-19 or being at a high risk of serious health implications.

The CRCB does not automatically renew. To continue receiving financial assistance, you’ll need to reapply each week (up to 38 weeks). Note that you cannot apply for the CRSB if you are actively getting benefits from the CRB, CRSB, EI, QPIP, or short-term disability.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides financial assistance to businesses, non-profits, and charities who are struggling to make their rent payments. If you qualify, you can receive direct payments from CERS – and you won’t need to notify or involve your landlord, either. CERS takes financial support one step further for businesses that have been significantly affected by public health orders (i.e., lockdowns).

Financial assistance is available throughout June 2021, with the next application deadline in April 2021.

Consider alternative forms of employment

By 2019, 40 percent of millennials in Canada had completed at least one job as a gig worker. Gig work, or working as an independent contractor, is often an easy pitch to sell. After all, the flexibility of setting your own schedule (and maybe even donning a pair of sweats as your daily uniform) sounds like a dream come true.

Gig work is experiencing a big increase in demand during COVID, with food and grocery delivery topping the charts. But if you’re looking for something that gives the luxury of working from home on a regular basis, you might want to consider trying freelancing on for size. Once you start making good money, you can invest it further as well.

Upwork might be the most well-known platform, but Fiverr, 99 designs, and Writer Access are also good ones to check out. Some examples of categories that clients are hiring for include:

  • Legal advice
  • Writing, editing and proofreading
  • Digital marketing
  • Project management
  • Transcription
  • Product testing
  • Accounting and consulting
  • Website design