Canadian COVID-19 financial benefits for individuals

By Brittany Stuckless

Posted on February 11, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and affect unemployment in Canada. Since 2020, the trend seems to be that Canadians enjoy some normalcy in the summer months. Then, fall and winter roll around, cases spike again, and the government introduces more public health measures and restrictions, leaving many jobless.

The federal government began providing financial aid for people experiencing job loss during the first lockdown in March 2020. Since then, these benefits have changed drastically, with more being introduced while others expire.

The pandemic may be coming to an end in the foreseeable future. However, it is important to understand which benefits exist if COVID-19 related unemployment trends continue for the next year or two.

Important information to remember

  • To apply for these benefits, individuals need to register for a My Account with the CRA and file their taxes.
  • These benefits are generally for people who do not qualify for employment insurance (EI). Find out more about EI eligibility here.
  • Repayment options are available for people who mistakenly apply for benefits or later find out they were ineligible.
  • Individuals cannot apply for more than one benefit at a time. They also cannot receive these benefits if they are collecting EI.

Current benefits

Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB)

The CWLB is available for individuals who have lost their jobs and live in a province with afull or partial lockdown. Canadians can apply weekly for any period between October 24, 2021, and May 7, 2022. Applicants can retroactively apply for previous weeks if they continue to be out of work. Due to past government trends, there is a chance this benefit will continue beyond May if lockdowns persist.

The weekly amount is $300, which is then taxed at the source, so applicants receive $270 a week. The CWLB is administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Apply for the CWLB and learn more here.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The CRSB is a benefit that provides $500 ($450 after taxes) a week to individuals forced to quarantine due to the pandemic. This can be due to having COVID-19, being directed to quarantine by an employer or public health official, or being more vulnerable to the virus.

Individuals are eligible for six weeks of pay (they don’t have to be consecutive) and can apply any time until May 7, 2022. The government may reevaluate and extend the eligibility period. The CRSB is administered through the CRA.

Apply for the CRSB and learn more here.

Expired benefits

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The CERB was introduced in the beginning of the pandemic when provinces began locking down. It gave people who lost their jobs $2000 per month. Newly unemployed people could apply through EI (using a My Service Canada account), or their CRA account. Benefits were paid weekly (CRA) or bi-weekly (My Service Canada) and were not taxed at the source.

The CERB ended in October 2020. Many people still refer to COVID-19 financial aid using the term “the CERB” since it was the first major benefit. Newcomers should know it is no longer available.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The federal government introduced the CRB as a way to phase out the CERB. The CRB had a more thorough screening process and was meant to ease people back into work, whereas the CERB was an emergency response to get funds to people quickly. It was meant for individuals who did not qualify for EI, was taxed at the source ($450 per week), and was administered through the CRA.

The CRB expired on December 23, 2021.

Additional resources

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