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When the Canada Emergency Response Benefit ended on September 26, 2020, the federal government took steps to assist Canadian workers who were still being affected by the coronavirus pandemic by introducing several new benefits.

These series of additional benefits kicked in on September 27, 2020, and include a revamped Employment Insurance (EI) program and a new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

The Canada Recovery Benefit provides $500 per week for up to 38 weeks to workers who are not eligible for EI.

This program is expected to provide coverage for the many self-employed and gig economy workers who do not meet the requirements to collect EI benefits and who remain affected by the economic fallout resulting from COVID-19.

A new Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit program also offers $500 per week to caregivers who must take care of children at home because of school or daycare closures.

Finally, a new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit provides up to $1,000 to workers who are sick and do not have access to paid sick leave.

The CERB replacement and transition plans are expected to cost at least $37 billion over the next year.

2021 CRB and EI Benefit Update

Several of the economic benefits that were introduced to help Canadians during the pandemic are being extended. Here’s how they will be impacted:

CRB: Increased from a maximum benefit period of 26 weeks to 38 weeks (an increase of 12 weeks).

EI Regular Benefit: Increased from a maximum of 26 weeks to 50 weeks for claims between September 27, 2020, to September 25, 2021 (an increase of 24 weeks).

CRCB: Increased from a maximum benefit period of 26 weeks to 38 weeks (an increase of 12 weeks).

CRSB: Increased from a maximum of 2 weeks to as much as 4 weeks (an increase of 2 weeks).

The benefit amounts paid on a weekly basis will stay the same, however, the benefits you may be eligible for has increased significantly.

These changes to the program are expected to cost an additional $12.1 billion.

What is the Canada Recovery Benefit?

The Canada Recovery Benefit is a CERB transition program that provides income support to workers who do not qualify for employment insurance.

The CRB launched in early October (with benefits payable retroactively from September 27, 2020), and will remain in place for one year.

As the CERB winds up, it is expected that millions of recipients will transition to collecting EI regular benefits. However, self-employed folks and gig workers who are ineligible for EI can apply for CRB benefits for up to 38 weeks if they meet the eligibility requirements.

Recipients of the CRB will get $500 per week for up to 38 weeks.

Related: $1250 CESB Benefits for Students

Who Qualifies for the CRB Benefit in 2021?

The CRB has three streams of benefits, and each one has its qualifications criteria:

1. Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

This benefit is available to workers who are unable to work because of COVID-19 or whose incomes are reduced compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Based on available information, you may qualify if you:

  • Are at least 15 years old and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Stopped working due to COVID-19 and are actively looking for employment
  • Are working but your income is reduced due to COVID-19
  • Are not eligible for employment insurance
  • Had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020, and
  • Have not voluntarily quit your job

Learn about applying for the CRB below.

2. Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

This benefit is available to caregivers unable to work because they have to care for children or other dependents due to COVID-19.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Live in Canada and be at least 15 years old
  • Have a valid SIN
  • Be employed or self-employed just prior to applying for CRB
  • Be unable to do at least 50% of your normal work because school, daycare, or a care facility is closed and you have to care for a child under 12 years of age or a family member with a disability
  • Do not have access to paid leave for the weeks you are claiming
  • You are not receiving the CRB, Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, disability benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, or EI Emergency Recovery Benefits for the week you are claiming

Applications for the CRCB started on October 5, 2020. You can apply for this benefit for each 1-week period if you are eligible.

3. Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

This benefit is available to workers who are unable to work due to sickness or self-isolation as a result of COVID-19.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be a resident of Canada and at least 15 years old
  • Be employed or self-employed at the time of your application, and
  • Must have earned at least $5,000 income in 2019 or 2020
  • Be unable to work at least 50% of your normal weekly work schedule

Applications for the CRSB started on October 5, 2020. You can apply for this benefit for each 1-week period if you are eligible.

Related: How To Claim Your Uncashed Cheques From CRA

How Much Money Will I Get From the CRB in 2021?

You will receive a benefit amount of $500 per week for up to 38 weeks or about 9 months. This translates to $2,000 per month in Canada Recovery Benefits.

Eligible workers can receive a total benefit of $19,000 between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021 (1 year).

The amounts from the two other temporary benefit programs are as follows:

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit: You receive $500 per week (i.e. $2000 per month) for up to 38 weeks, for a potential total benefit amount of $19,000. A $50 tax is withheld at source and you will receive $450 for each 1-week period.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: You receive $500 per week for up to four weeks, for a potential total benefit amount of $2,000. A $50 tax is withheld at source and you will receive $450 per week.

Applications for the Canada Recovery Benefit commenced on October 12, 2020, and it will be available for one year (12 months).

How To Apply for the CRB Benefit

The Canada Recovery Benefits program is managed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and you can apply online via CRA MyAccount.

For the CRB, you will need to apply after every 2-week period. If you are still unemployed, you will need to apply again. You can apply up to a total of 19 eligibility periods (38 weeks) between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.

During each CRB benefit application, CRA will require you to attest that you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. In general, you must actively seek employment to remain eligible.

For the CRSB (sickness benefit), a medical certificate is not required to qualify for the benefit. You will need to have missed at least 60% of your weekly duties due to sickness from COVID-19 or self-isolation.

For the CRCB (caregiving benefits), you can apply after the period in which you meet the requirements. Only one member of a household can apply for the benefit in any period.

Watch out for more updated information relating to the CRB application process on this page in the coming days.

You will receive payments through direct deposit if you set it up through your CRA MyAccount (takes 3-5 business days). Otherwise, it is sent via cheque through the mail and may take 10-12 business days to arrive.

Applications that require further validation by CRA may take longer to be processed.

Related: How To Open a CRA MyAccount Online

Can I Work While Receiving CRB Benefits?

The government wants to encourage people to go back to work while also creating a cushion if work is not available due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

You can work and earn an income while receiving the new Canada Recovery Benefit payments.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can continue to get the $2,000 per month CRB benefit and still earn up to $38,000 in net employment or self-employment income.

After you cross the $38,000 threshold, CRB payments are clawed back at a rate of $0.50 for every dollar in income (i.e. a 50% clawback).

For example, if you earn $40,000 in employment income and have collected CRB, you will have to repay up to $1,000 back (calculated as $2000 in excess income x 50%).

As per CRA, the $38,000 net income includes any CERB, CRCB and CRSB payments you received. However, it does not include the CRB.

Related: What is the Minimum Wage in Canada?

CRB Payment Periods in 2021

If you remain eligible for CRB payments, you can re-apply on the first Monday after your previous 2-week period ends.

CRB payment periods for 2021 are as follows:

  • Period 7: December 20, 2020: January 2, 2021
  • Period 8: January 3, 2021, to January 16, 2021
  • Period 9: January 17, 2021, to January 30, 2021
  • Period 10: January 31, 2021, to February 13, 2021
  • Period 11: February 14, 2021, to February 27, 2021
  • Period 12: February 28, 2021, to March 13, 2021
  • Period 13: March 14, 2021, to March 27, 2021
  • Period 14: March 28, 2021, to April 10, 2021
  • Period 15: April 11, 2021, to April 24, 2021
  • Period 16: April 25, 2021, to May 8, 2021
  • Period 17: May 9, 2021, to May 22, 2021
  • Period 18: May 23, 2021, to June 5, 2021
  • Period 19: June 6, 2021, to June 19, 2021
  • Period 20: June 20, 2021, to July 3, 2021
  • Period 21: July 4, 2021, to July 17, 2021
  • Period 22: July 18, 2021, to July 31, 2021
  • Period 23: August 1, 2021, to August 14, 2021
  • Period 24: August 15, 2021, to August 28, 2021
  • Period 25: August 29, 2021, to September 11, 2021
  • Period 26: September 12, 2021, to September 25, 2021

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefits and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefits are made on a weekly basis.

CRB Contact Information

If you have general questions about the Canada Recovery Benefit including when/how to apply, payment periods and amounts, and eligibility, you can reach CRA at 1-833-966-2099.

For questions about your CRA MyAccount, including changes to your account, call 1-800-959-8281. Also, if you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return and are having difficulties with creating a CRA MyAccount, this number is the one to call.

Is the CRB Taxable?

All benefits received under the three Canada Recovery Benefit programs are considered as taxable income.

A $100 tax is withheld from your bi-weekly payments and you will receive $900 instead of the $1,000 payment.

Also, come tax season in Feb-April 2021, a tax information slip will be available in your CRA MyAccount. Additional taxes may be due at this time.

CRB Repayment

You will be required to return Canada Recovery Benefit payments if any of the following apply:

  • You applied for the CRB and later found that you are not eligible
  • You received a payment in error
  • You received one of the following for the same eligibility period:
    • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit
    • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
    • short-term disability benefits
    • workers’ compensation benefits
    • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
    • Québec Parental Insurance Pan (QPIP) benefits
  • You are found to have made a fraudulent claim

To repay CRB, you can either use:

  • Online Banking: Add CRA as a payee to your online bank account and send the money back. Enter your 9 digit social insurance number (SIN) as the CRA account number for the account you are paying to.
  • Mail a Cheque: You can mail a cheque or Money Order to CRA and include your SIN. Make the payment out to the Receiver General for Canada and send your cheque to “Revenue Processing – Repayment of CRB, Sudbury Tax Centre, 1050 Notre Dame Avenue, Sudbury ON P3A 0C3.”

CRB vs EI

CERB is transitioning to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program starting on September 27, 2020, and eligible CERB claimants will start receiving EI through Service Canada.

CRB is a temporary program designed to cater to workers who are ineligible for EI regular and EI special benefits.

This includes self-employed and gig economy workers who are unable to return to work.

Employment Insurance (EI) Changes

The EI program is being overhauled and simplified to allow more workers to claim benefits. It will be administered by Service Canada and offer the following benefits:

EI Regular Benefits and EI Special Benefits

Eligible recipients will get a minimum EI benefit of $500 per week for up to 50 weeks. EI claimants for extended parental benefits will receive at least $300 per week.

Changes were made to EI eligibility requirements in order to accommodate workers who have been unable to work a normal schedule due to COVID-19.

These EI changes include:

The minimum hours to qualify for EI is now 120 hours of work (approx. 3.5 weeks). This is in comparison to the 420 to 700 hours usually required.

To meet the minimum hours required, EI claimants get a 300 hours credit for regular benefits and 480 hours credit for special benefits e.g. sickness, maternity, or compassionate caregiver benefits. These insurable credit hours are available for EI claims made within the next one year.

The minimum weekly EI benefit is $500 per week (to match the CRB and former CERB).

This is different from the traditional 55% of average weekly earnings of up to $573 maximum that is normally paid out. The new program puts a bottom to the weekly benefits of $500.

EI Premium Rate Freeze

EI premium rates for employers and employees will stay frozen at the 2020 level for two years. What this means is that there won’t be an increase to EI premiums and employees will continue paying $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings.

Also, the employer rate will remain at $2.21 per $100 of insurable earnings.

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