Can I Apply For Both E.I. And The CERB?

Can I Apply For Both E.I. And The CERB?

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated May 4, 2021

With the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on all aspects of life, millions of Canadians are finding themselves with a significant income loss. Whether it’s employees being laid off or business owners having to shut their doors, many Canadians are finding themselves without the income needed to keep up with bill payments or to cover the costs of daily requirements, including food. 

Luckily, the Canadian government has not left Canadians high and dry during this time of great need. Those who require financial assistance to make up for lost income have a few choices in terms of financial assistance programs available to them, including Employment Insurance (EI) and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

But the question is, can you apply for both at the same time? More specifically, can you receive funds from both EI and the CERB?

Employment Insurance (EI) 

Eligible Canadians may apply for Employment Insurance (EI) to help compensate for any lost wages. EI is a type of insurance program that allows people who have lost their job to receive temporary financial help. 

There are specific requirements for those applying for EI, as it is not available to everyone. In order to qualify for financial assistance through EI, applicants must have:

  • Been employed in insurable employment;
  • Been without work and pay for a minimum of seven consecutive days over the previous 52-week period;
  • Have worked for the necessary number of insurable employment hours over the last 52-week period or since the beginning of the last EI claim.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Individuals also have the option to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to provide eligible Canadians with temporary income support. With the CERB, successful applicants can receive $500 per week for up to 24 weeks.

People who are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits may also qualify for financial assistance through the CERB but should not receive benefits from both programs at the same time. 

The CERB is available to Canadians who:

  • Have not been able to work because of COVID-19;
  • Are eligible for EI;
  • Have EI benefits that have been exhausted between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Had earned at least $5,000 from employment and/or self-employment income in 2019 or in the 12-month period up to the date applied; 
  • Did not voluntarily quit their job.

Can You Apply For Both EI And The CERB?

The question is, can Canadians take advantage of both IE and the CERB at the same time?

The answer is no. Some people may apply for both, and may even receive payment from both, but it should be either one or the other.

For anyone who is eligible for EI on March 15, 2020, or later, EI claims will be automatically processed through the CERB. But some Canadians have been receiving double payments in error – both from CERB and from EI. This is happening as a result of applying for both financial assistance programs. 

Canadians who have received doubled payments in error should take steps to rectify the situation. It is highly likely that when the coming months the government will come looking for those who have doubled up on payments. Anyone qualified for EI and collecting payments through CERB will be transferred back to EI once the funds from the CERB run out.

According to the CRA, Canadians should not be receiving funds from both EI and CERB at the same time for the same benefit period.

Rating of 4/5 based on 14 votes.

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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