Things are changing almost daily, which means Federal and Provincial government programs may continue to evolve. We’ll do our best to keep this page updated so please visit this page often to stay current on the relief available to you.
We’re open and here to help
Our offices are closed during this crisis, but we are working from home to assist you during office hours. We can now do everything electronically via Email, Phone, Video chat, and sign documents electronically via DocuSign®.
I have questions about my consumer proposal during the pandemic
For the status of your proposal during the pandemic, help dealing with collection calls, issues with the CRA etc., please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use your Farber file code in the subject line and detail the nature of your request.
For questions about your Consumer Proposal payments during the pandemic, please send us an email at email@example.com. Please use your Farber file code in the subject line and indicate the nature of your request.
I have questions about my bankruptcy during the pandemic
If you are currently making voluntary payments, we will work with you to implement a payment plan during the pandemic.
If you are currently responsible for making Surplus Income payments, and your income has been affected by the pandemic, we will review it with you. If you have questions about this, please contact us at 1-888-432-7237 (then select option 2).
I have questions about the relief programs that I can benefit from like CERB and CRB
CERB is a benefit created by the federal government, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help anyone who was unable to work due to the impact of COVID-19.
When the CERB benefit program first launched in early 2020 it was providing $2,000 per a month (gross) to eligible individuals who were off work and without an income as a result of COVID-19. The benefit was originally designed to be provided to such individuals for a maximum of 16 weeks (4 cheques of $2,000). The payments were also retroactive to the eligibility date, meaning that no matter when an applicant requested the CERB their first cheque would include all payments they were entitled to under the CERB up to the point of application. So for example, if someone was eligible for CERB from the start of the pandemic on March 15 2020, but only applied to the program in May of 2020, they would have received the benefits from March 15th in a lump sum once they applied and were accepted into the program.
Please Note: These benefits are taxable, and you will need to report any payments received on your annual tax return.
Phase Two: CRB Takes Over From CERB
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was an important and necessary temporary response to support Canadians who stopped working because of COVID-19. The CERB covered three broad circumstances where individuals would have had to stop working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- their job not being available
- being sick, quarantined, or in self-isolation
- having to care for a child or other family requiring supervised care
As the first wave of the pandemic ended, the Federal Government transitioned most Canadians who could still not work to a simplified Employment Insurance program, effective September 27, 2020, known as the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).
For those who are not eligible to receive regular EI benefits (https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html) (such as the self-employed, or those experiencing a reduction in income of at least 50% due to COVID-19), the Federal Government now provides $500 per week (taxable) for up to 38 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021 (the new end date).
To be eligible for the Benefit, the applicant must be available to work, looking for work and willing to accept work (when it is reasonable to do so).
Other criteria include:
- you were living in Canada at the time you apply for the benefits
- you are at least 15 years of age
- you have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- You earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020 or in the 12 months prior to applying
- You have not quit your job or reduced your work hours voluntarily on or after 9/27/20
- You were seeking work during the period, either as self-employed or an employee
- You were not isolating or in quarantine as a result of international travel
If you do not qualify for the CRB in respect to the criteria listed above there may be other options to assist you.
The Federal Government has also introduced the temporary Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-sickness-benefit.html and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-caregiving-benefit.html.
These helpful recovery benefits ensure Canadians continue to have access to much needed tailored support similar to the CERB but more tailored to specific situations, and as an alternative to the regular EI benefit program.
The Application Process
The best way to apply for any of the currently-available recovery benefits is online, via the CRA’s My Account. However, Canadians who do not have access to the internet can apply using the CRA’s automated bilingual toll-free phone lines by calling either 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.
To obtain further information on how to apply for the recovery benefits visit the transitioning to new benefits web page. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/transition.html
How do you apply?
Because experience over the past 14 months has shown the CRB hotline to often be extremely busy, and often beyond capacity, reaching the counsellors by telephone is often difficult to do.
Here’s how to apply using your CRA My Account:
- Login into your CRA My Account https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/e-services-individuals/account-individuals.html
- Click on the COVID-19: Canada Response Benefit in the alert banner at the top of the page
- Select the period you want to apply for (period of no income)
- Declare that you qualify for the benefit
- Confirm that CRA have the right payment information (bank account)
You can also apply by phone by calling 1-800-959-2019 and following the voice prompts. I warn you again that this may take some time before you get through. Once you do get through, you will be asked to provide your SIN#, your postal code, the period you are applying for and will be asked to declare that you qualify for the benefit.
Unlike what you might have experienced applying for traditional EI in the past, the application process has been made very simple and streamlined. There are no detailed questions and the process doesn’t require supporting documentation.
The application process is relatively easy and cheques arrive within days of approval. However, please do not make inaccurate declarations during the application process. Remember that CRA will do their own due diligence later on in respect to your eligibility – and funds that were paid out incorrectly could be clawed back by them at a later date.
The impact of COVID-19 has reached far beyond the disease itself, far beyond the illness and personal tragedy it has caused and will still cause. Its impact has also caused massive social disruption and economic uncertainty.
Remember, Licenced Insolvency Trustees are excellent sources of information on how to deal with financial hardships of all kinds, and arming yourself with knowledge in a time of unknowns can limit stress and help your state of mind.
The team at Farber are available by phone or video – so if you feel now is the time to resolve your debt situation – call us, we are here to help.
Stay safe and healthy.
Helpful links and additional resources
An update from the Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy.
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan – Government of Canada support for individuals, businesses and industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CRB) – If you’ve stopped working because of COVID-19, the CRB may provide you with temporary income support.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Application
The Ontario government’s online resource webpage for COVID-19 (which now includes vaccination booking options).
British Columbia’s COVID-19 provincial support and Information webpage.
COVID-19 info for Albertans.