(Prime Minister Justin Trudau/Flickr)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more than 240,000 people have already applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Applications for the CERB, a new fund created to aid those facing unemployment or lost income by providing eligible applicants with $500/week for 16 weeks, opened on April 6th. Claims can be made retroactively as far back as March 15th.

Canadians can apply through their CRA My Account or by calling 1-800-959-2019. Applications are being staggered by birth month over the next few days, meaning those who were born in:

  • January, February, or March can apply on April 6th, or Mondays.
  • April, May, June can apply on April 7th, or Tuesdays.
  • July, August, September can apply on April 8th, or Wednesdays.
  • October, November, December can apply on April 9th, or Thursdays.
  • Anyone can apply on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Those who successfully apply can expect to start receiving money within three business days if they signed up for direct deposit, and 10 business days if they applied over the phone.

The CERB covers workers who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who have permanently or temporarily lost their jobs – including self employed and contract workers – those who are sick, caring for some who is ill, and parents who have to stay home to care for children due to school closures.

Applicants must re-apply for the benefit every four weeks, as eligibility is set in four-week periods based on the individual’s situation up to a maximum of 16 weeks.

Those who became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15th, 2020 or later will have their claims be automatically processed through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

After the 16 weeks of CERB payments are over, if unemployment or loss of income continues, the regular Employment Insurance program will take over.

The government notes that these benefit payments are taxable and any payments received must be reported on next year’s income tax filing. An information slip will be made available for the 2020 tax year in My Account under Tax Information Slips.

During his address on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also stated that more announcements on benefits and aid will be made for those who do not currently qualify for the CERB, including those who are working reduced hours, and university and college students.

More information is available through the federal government’s Frequently Asked Questions portal for the CERB.

See all the latest updates about the global COVID-19 pandemic on Vancouver Island

The BCCDC has set up a 2019 novel coronavirus telephone information line at 1-833-784-4397 for those who have further questions about this disease.

Anyone concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the novel coronavirus, should contact their primary care provider, local public health office, or call 8-1-1.

The Province has also created the 1-888-COVID-19  line to connect British Columbians needing non-medical information about the coronavirus pandemic.

As of the time of publication, the total number of COVID-19 patients worldwide has risen to 1,312,628.

Over 72,600 people have died from the illness and 275,087 have made a full recovery.

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