Some Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) recipients say they received a government email on Thursday explaining why they’ll face an interruption in benefit payments even as the federal income support program for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended.
“You will not receive a payment when you complete your next report,” reads the email from the Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC), which plays a key role in overseeing the Employment Insurance (EI) program.
The message comes after Global News reported many Canadians who are receiving the CERB through the EI program were surprised and confused to learn their payments would stop sooner than they expected.
The CERB provides $2,000 in monthly taxable income to those who are unable to work due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, whether or not they qualify for EI.
READ MORE: CERB to be extended by 8 weeks, Trudeau says
The program was initially set to run for 16 weeks, with the eligibility period starting retroactively on March 15. This meant Canadians who’d been continuously on the CERB since the start would max out on July 4.
But for some who’ve been receiving the CERB through EI, payments for the first phase of the program are ending sooner.
Canadians who qualify for EI must register for the CERB through Service Canada and generally receive the benefit as biweekly payments of $1,000 after submitting employment reports.
Canadians who don’t qualify for EI can apply for the CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency and receive payments of $2,000 for a four-week period.
Those who applied through EI received an initial advance payment of $2,000 in addition to the $1,000 biweekly payments tied to their employment reports.
Back in April, Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), speaking with Global News, called the $2,000 payment “an advance of weeks to be paid later on in their claim.”
No one would receive more than 16 weeks’ worth of benefits for a maximum amount of $8,000, the government said. This implied the benefit payments would stop sooner.
Those who received the CEIC email were told the initial $2,000 payment “was issued in order to get money in your pocket as quickly as possible,” according to several copies of the message reviewed by Global News.
Because of that lump-sum deposit, affected CERB recipients will not receive a payment when they complete their next employment report, the message says. This is “equivalent to the first two-week period of the advance,” the email adds.
It is not clear whether Canadians who continue to be eligible for the CERB will resume getting payments after that two-week gap or will have to wait four weeks, which would account for the full $2,000 advance.
“We will communicate any further changes to your future CERB payments in the coming weeks,” the email says.
The federal government has said it is extending the maximum length of CERB payments to 24 weeks, or $12,000.
The email urges recipients to keep filing employment reports in order to demonstrate continued eligibility for the benefit.
“Canadians receiving the CERB should be actively seeking work opportunities or planning to return to work, provided they are able and it is reasonable to do so,” the email says.