If you tried applying for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) when it opened to the public on April 6 and experienced a wait, it's most likely because nearly one million other Canadians were also applying.
As reported by CBC, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough's office said 996,000 new claims were filed for the CERB on Monday, which offers people who have lost their job or who can’t work because of the COVID-19 pandemic about $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
The CERB opened for applications Monday at 6 am ET and to ensure the federal application portal could handle the anticipated high volume of applications, the government implemented staggered application periods over the workweek based on when an applicant’s birth month is. Only Canadian residents with January-March birthdays could apply on Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that some people who should qualify for the CERB aren't eligible under current criteria. However, Trudeau says changes will be announced in the coming days to include students and those working reduced hours as a result of COVID-19.
“The CERB is meant to help all Canadians who need it and millions of Canadians will be getting it starting this week. There are some people who don’t yet qualify whom we do need to help," said Trudeau.
“If you’re working reduced hours down to 10 hours a week or less, we will soon announce how you will be able to qualify for the CERB. This is to help you if you’re a gig worker, a contract worker or a volunteer firefighter.”
The federal government has also said says since March 15 it has received 3.7 million claims — including employment insurance (EI) claims, which will be paid out as the CERB for the first four months before EI payments kick in. Furthermore, over three million applications have been processed to date.