Navigating the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and dealing with debt during COVID-19

2020-05-12   minute read

Mary Plahouras

Debt Solutions


While social distancing is the right thing to do to defeat COVID-19, we realize these are difficult times. If you have been impacted by the pandemic and have questions about dealing with your debts, we are here to help. Our team is listening and will provide the support and advice you need.  


MNP is open for business and able to serve you remotely. You can reach one of our Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LITs) toll-free at 310-DEBT with any questions. We are also happy to provide a no obligation Free Confidential Conversation via telephone or video conference (i.e. Zoom, WhatsApp, Facetime, Microsoft Teams, etc.).

Options for continued income

If you have been laid-off from your employment due to COVID-19 — or are self-employed / a contractor that has experienced a reduction in business due to COVID-19, you can:

  1. Apply for Employment Insurance (EI)
  2. Apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)


The CERB is a taxable income benefit which pays qualifying individuals $2,000 per month (or $500 per week) for a maximum of four months. The Government of Canada has introduced this initiative to fill in the gaps for Canadians who either do not qualify or are unable to access EI benefits.

You cannot collect the CERB and EI simultaneously. If you qualify for EI but have not yet applied for it, you can apply for the CERB first. You may become eligible for EI after CERB benefits expire.

Qualifications for the CERB

To qualify for the CERB, you must meet the following conditions:

  1. You are a Canadian resident.
  2. You are 14 years of age or older; and,
  3. You earned a minimum of $5,000.00 in 2019; or,
  4. You earned a minimum of $5,000.00 in the 12 months prior to making CERB application.

If your employment situation has not changed from the time you first applied for the CERB, you can reapply for a payment for multiple four-week periods, up to a maximum of 16 weeks or four months.

CERB application process:

To apply for the CERB:

  1. Complete the online form through your CRA MyAccount; or,
  2. Call the CRA automated toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041

Setting up CRA direct deposits

If the CRA has your bank account information on file, the CERB will be paid directly to your bank account.  If you have or do not want to register with the CRA for direct deposit, you will receive the CERB payment by cheque.

To set up direct deposit online:

  1. Download a direct deposit form from your online banking profile
  2. Log into your CRA MyAccount
  3. Click on your personal profile
  4. Click on Manage direct deposit
  5. Enter information as prompted

To set up direct deposit by phone:

  1. Download a direct deposit form from your online banking profile (or call your bank)
  2. Call 1-800-959-8281
  3. Answer the representative’s questions about your personal and banking information

Options for dealing with your debt

When dealing with debt, there are both formal and informal options. The best solution is a personal decision and depends on your unique situation.

Informal options include contacting your creditors on your own to negotiate a lower payment or lower interest rate, as well as asking your bank to consolidate your debts.

Formal options are provided under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) and include filing a Bankruptcy or a Consumer Proposal.

No matter which direction you decide to go, your best first step is to schedule a Free Confidential Consultation with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee to discuss your financial situation and your options.

During this initial meeting, the LIT will review your financial situation and discuss the options available to you.

Based out of Toronto and Markham, Mary Plahouras is a Senior Estate Manager at MNP LTD. To learn more about how MNP Debt can help, contact our local office at 416.515.3921 or toll-free at 310.DEBT (310.3328).

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