The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides temporary income support to workers and self-employed individuals, who have temporarily stopped working, lost their job, are sick or in quarantine, or, are directly affected by COVID-19. As of June 17, 2020, Canada has announced that it is extending the CERB by an additional eight weeks, bringing the maximum length of benefits to 24 weeks, or $12,000, as many CERB recipients were about to exhaust their benefits.

With Canada bringing in new immigrants, in order to encourage workers and students to stay in Canada, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they made the CERB benefit available to both temporary foreign workers and international students.

In addition, in order to streamline processing, in May, “The Government of Canada” waived the condition requiring temporary foreign workers (TFWs) to provide proof of a valid work permit or renewal of an expiring permit by email to receive the CERB. Government agents are no longer required to obtain proof of a valid work permit, verbal confirmation from TFW’s is sufficient

In order for temporary foreign workers and international students to be eligible for CERB, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) confirmed they must meet the same eligibility criteria as Canadians and permanent residents.

The Benefit eligibility is as follows:

  • Resident of Canada;
  • At least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and,
  • Who have not quit their job voluntarily

Even though the Government is trying to assist immigrants in financial difficulty as a direct result of COVID-19, some may be left out, especially with the $5,000 requirement. This is especially true for international students, who are unlikely to qualify, as they are only able to work 20 hours during the school year and full-time during breaks.