COVID-19 Support Programs

Difficult Times

In these difficult times understanding how the various government support programs work can help bring financial stability and reassurance.

Canadian households and businesses are suffering from a cash flow crisis which is caused by a drop in income paired with expenses that are staying similar to what they were pre-COVID-19. In worse case situations, expenses can exceed income leading to a household and business withdrawing from their savings/investments and using debt to pay for their expenses.

Below you can find these government programs that have been designed to alleviate this crisis by increasing income or reducing expenses.

Table of Contents

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

  • A taxable $2,000 benefit payment for each four-week period
  • Payments last for up to four periods
  • Proposed Update: An extension of two more periods (8 weeks) for those that are still eligible
  • Available from March 15th, 2020 to October 3rd, 2020
  • Available to those recently employed, employed but with no income, and those that are self-employed (includes contractors, free lancers, and more)


  • Residing in Canada and is at least 15 years old
    • Do not need to be a citizen or a permanent resident but must be residing in Canada and have a valid SIN number
  • Had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12-months prior to date of application
    • Can come from multiple sources
  • Must not have quit job voluntarily
  • Must have stopped working due to reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020
  • Income sources for the program include
    • Employment income, Self-employed income, tips, commissions, royalties, non-eligible dividends
    • Pensions, student loans and bursaries are not employment income
    • Date that income is included is the date that it was earned and not paid

Application Periods

  • Applications are made for seven pre-determined application periods
    • For the first claim, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income over 14 or more consecutive days within the benefit period.
    • For subsequent claims, you cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for the entire benefit period.
4-Week Period CycleDate Range
1March 15th to April 11th, 2020
2April 12th to May 9th, 2020
3May 10th to June 6th, 2020
4June 7th to July 4th, 2020
5July 5th to August 1st, 2020
6August 2nd to August 29th, 2020
7August 30th to September 26th, 2020

Application Process

  • Applications can be made on CRA MyAccount or Service Canada or by phone: 1-800-959-2019
  • Direct deposit payments arrive in 3-5 days and mail in 10 days
  • Must fill out an attestation when apply to confirm details
  • Will need to fill out attestation before every period
  • Confirmation is not required at this point and details will be confirmed afterwards

Tips/Important Details

  • Payments are not taxed at source but payments will be due when file 2020 income taxes
  • No verification process is made and ineligible payments are stated to be clawed back
  • If uncertain about income, consider applying near the end of the application period

Canada Emergency Student Benefits (CESB)

  • Taxable $1,250 per period for regular benefits
  • Taxable $2,000 per period if disabled or taking care of a dependent under the age of 12 or a dependent with a disability
  • Payments last for four periods from May to August 2020
  • Applications must be made by August 30, 2020


  • Available to full, part-time, and summer students
  • Must be a student in Canada or abroad at an eligible institution
    • Enrolled in a recognized post-secondary educational program (minimum 12 weeks in duration) that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate
    • Completed or ended your post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later
    • Completed or expect to complete high school, or received, or expect to receive your high school equivalency in 2020, and have applied for a post-secondary educational program that starts before February 1, 2021
  • Individuals in apprenticeship programs can also qualify as long as they do not receive the CERB
  • A Canadian Resident, Permanent Resident (PR), Indian status, or protected person
    • International students, temporary workers (SINs beginning with a 9) and non-resident students with tax numbers do not qualify
  • No age restrictions
  • Do not qualify or applied for CERB, and EI
  • One of the following (must still be looking for work is able to work, CRA may ask for proof afterwards) for each period
    • Unable to work due to COVID-19
    • You are looking for work, but unable to find any due to COVID19
    • Currently working, however income is below $1,000 for each 4-week period

If Have a Disability

  • Must attest to have an impairment (such as a physical, mental, or cognitive that hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.
  • Can be either permanent or episodic, or evident or not
  • government sources have stated that you do not need to have been approved for the disability tax credit
  • Please contact the CRA with further question

If Graduated or Expect to Graduate From High School in 2020

  • Qualify for CESB if completed or expected to complete High School in 2020 and have applied for a post-secondary education that begins by Feb. 2021
  • Special rules based on HS graduation date
    • Complete High School before June 7th, 2020?
      • Date of completion must be before CESB period applied to
    • After June 7th ?
      • You can apply for two eligibility periods beginning from July 5th


  • Application made through CRA MyAccount or by phone 1-800-959-2019
    • Must apply for each period
    • If never filed taxes, must phone 1-800-959-8281 to register the SIN number
    • CRA will verify application

Application Periods

PeriodDate Range
OneMay 10th to June 6th, 2020
TwoJune 7th to July 4th, 2020
ThreeJuly 5th to August 1st, 2020
FourAugust 2nd to August 29th, 2020

Tips/Important Details

  • Payments are not taxed at source but payments will be due when file 2020 income taxes
  • No verification process is made and ineligible payments are stated to be clawed back

Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG)


  • “Students helping in the fight against COVID-19 this summer will soon be eligible for $1,000 to $5,000, depending on your hours, through the new Canada Student Service Grant,”
  • The new Canada Student Service Grant, which will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic.
  • Covers volunteer work completed from June 25th to October 31st, 2020 (18 weeks)
  • Must be registered by August 21st, 2020
  • Grant is taxable and does not need to be used to pay for educational costs


  • Must be a student or recent graduate
    • Student: Part-time or full-time student that is/was registered in Spring/Summer, and/or Fall 2020 semesters at a registered educational institution
    • Graduates: Completed studies in Dec. 2019 or later
  • Must be under 30 as of Dec. 31st, 2020
  • Open to Canadian Residents, Permanent Residents, Refugees, First Nations, Meti, or Inuit
  • Students abroad also qualify, but must be living in Canada
  • Is available to those that are receiving the CESB but no CERB

Qualifying Organizations

  • non-profit organization (inc. charities and non-corp.) located in Canada
  • Work must be meaningful for student and a response to COVID-19
  • Must meet workplace guidelines
  • Can be in-person or virtual
  • For profit and governmental organizations do not qualify

Payment Amount

  • Amounts are based on hours of volunteer work and are in 100 increments (rounded down)
    • 100hrs = $1,000
    • 200hrs = $2,000
    • 300hrs = $3,000
    • 400hrs = $4,000
    • 500 hrs = $5,000

How to Apply

  • Ensure eligible
  • Look for opportunities (all have been verified by portal)
  • Register to apply
  • Requires a valid ID
    • Proof of education enrollment or graduation
  • Must Track volunteer Hours

OAS/GIS/Allowance Additional Payment

  • Additional non-taxable payment bonus for eligible seniors on June 26th, 2020
  • A $300 bonus payment for seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension (OAS)
  • An extra $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) for a total payment of $5000
  • An additional $500 for a spouse that is eligible for Allowance (aged 60 to 64 and spouse receives GIS)
  • No application necessary