Canada Recovery Benefit: Everything you need to know

The Canada Revenue Agency has started accepting applications for Period 1 this week

Canada Recovery Benefit: Everything you need to know

Canadians who are severely affected by the COVID-19 downturn but who aren’t covered by Employment Insurance (EI) can apply for continuing income support starting this week.

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives employed and self-employed Canadians a fortnightly benefit of $1,000 ($900 after taxes) for up to 26 weeks, or 13 eligibility periods, until Sept. 25, 2021.

What are CRB eligibility periods?
Each CRB payout covers only a specific two-week period. When an applicant files for income support, they will have to specify which eligibility period they are applying for. Period 1 covers Sept. 27 to Oct. 10. Application for this period begins today.

Applicants should remember that the program does not renew automatically, but recipients can keep applying every fortnight for a total of 13 eligibility periods maximum.

Read more: What happens if you don't qualify for EI?

Who are eligible for CRB?
Recipients applying for a specific period will need to show that they stopped working during the two-week time frame because of reasons related to COVID-19.

Canadians can also apply for CRB if they have seen their average weekly income decline by 50% (compared to the same period last year or in the past 12 months) due to the pandemic.

Those who have received the following benefits during the two-week period being applied for, however, cannot apply for CRB:

  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
  • Short-term disability benefits
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits
  • Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

CRB applicants must have earned at least $5,000 in the 12 months prior to their application, and must not have resigned or cut their work hours voluntarily (unless there was a valid reason to do so) on or after Sept. 27 this year.

Applicants must also be searching for work, either as an employee or in self-employment, and must not have turned down any reasonable opportunity in the two-week period they are applying for.

“If you refuse reasonable work, you will automatically lose five periods (10 weeks) of the CRB eligibility periods. You must also wait five periods (10 weeks) before you can re-apply. If you refuse work again, you will face the penalty again,” the government said.

What counts towards income for CRB recipients?
The CRB is part of a package of benefits targeting struggling workers – among them gig workers and contractors – who fall outside the traditional EI system. But, as mentioned earlier, applicants should have earned at least $5,000 in the 12 months prior to application and from the following sources:

  • Employment income (total or gross pay)
  • Tips at work
  • Non-eligible dividends
  • Honoraria (such as nominal amounts paid to emergency service volunteers)
  • Royalties (such as those paid to artists)
  • Net self-employment income (revenue minus any expenses)
  • Maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits

The following do NOT count as income, however:

  • Disability benefits
  • Student loans, bursaries or scholarships
  • Pension income
  • Amounts from other COVID-19 benefits:
    • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
    • Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
    • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
    • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
    • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

Read more: Trudeau to CERB recipients: 'No one will be left behind'

Can CRB recipients work while receiving the benefit?
Yes, but the program has an income threshold of $38,000.

If you go beyond that: “You will have to reimburse $0.50 for every dollar of net income you earn above $38,000 on your income tax return for that year (2020 or 2021),” the government said.

However, recipients will not have to pay back more than their benefit amount for that year.

How can applicants file for CRB?
The Canada Revenue Agency, which administers the benefit, asks workers to file their applications online through the agency’s My Account portal or over the phone through toll-free lines. For more information about the program, applicants can call 1-833-966-2099.

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