Changes to CERB Qualifications

In response to growing concerns about eligibility, specifically for those who have maintained employment but had their hours reduced during the crisis, the federal government announced a series of changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). 

On April 15th the Prime Minister announced that the program would be expanded to include those who have recently run out of employment insurance, and those making less than $1000 per month due to reduced hours.

Wage boost for “essential” workers

In recent weeks and months Canadians have been grappling with the hypocrisy of calling their grocery and pharmacy store workers, delivery drivers and kitchen staff “essential workers,” while barely paying them a living wage. That is why the Federal Government just announced a cost-sharing program with the provinces and territories to increase the earnings of those deemed “essential” to at least $2,500 per month.

It also gives those essential workers an incentive to remain on the job, rather than leaving and collecting the CERB instead.

At this point in time, however, the federal government is leaving it up to the premieres to define for themselves who qualifies as “essential,” and that definition could range significantly between provinces and territories.

Introducing the CESB

On April 22nd the Federal Government announced a new financial support program, this time aimed directly at students.

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit provides $1,250 per month for eligible students from May through August. The program also ups the benefit for students with dependants or those with permanent disabilities to $1,750 per month.

Its just one part of the government’s recently announced $9 billion investment in student financial aid, which includes:

  • expanded student and youth programming
  • enhanced financial assistance
  • a grant of up to $5,000 for students helping in the fight against the virus

Federal government to help small businesses pay rent

On April 24th Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the latest effort to keep small businesses intact through the crisis, this time in the form of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses.

The program, which was developed in partnership with the provinces and territories, attempts to lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

The program will also offer forgivable loans to commercial property owners to help cover 50% of monthly rent payments that are owed by small businesses affected by the pandemic from April to June. Loans will be forgiven if the landlord agrees to reduce the tenant’s rent by at least 75% during those months, though small businesses would still be responsible for the remaining 25%.

In order to qualify small businesses must be renting their workspace for less than $50,000 per month, and have had to either cease operations or experienced a 70%-or-greater drop in revenues since the outbreak. More details, including how to apply, are expected in the coming days.

Thinking Capital hosting small business webinars

On the heels of their Small Business Health Index, Thinking Capital has just released another tool for helping Canadian entrepreneurs through the crisis. The alternative lender recently published a series of webinars providing practical advice for small business owners during difficult times, including their first video on managing employees during difficult times.

Lending Loop giving loan assistance to customers

Understanding the hardships their customers could face in the wake of the crisis, a number of alternative lenders are generously offering loan assistance programs to their clients. Lending Loop, for example, has implemented a “temporary hardship program” for borrowers impacted by the crisis. The program allows qualifying customers the opportunity to make interest-only payments on their loans for up to three months.

Lending Loop customers that are interested in applying for the program can begin by emailing

Mogo provides action plan for the recently laid off

In order to help those hardest hit get through the most difficult part of the crisis Mogo has created a COVID-19 Job Loss Action Plan. The action plan offers a series of steps that can help those who recently lost their job survive the crisis by focussing on necessities, deferring whatever payments they can, taking advantage of relevant government programs and finding the money they need to get by. If you’ve recently lost your job as a result of the crisis, be sure to give it a thorough read.

Meridian offers credit card and mortgage support

Meridian customers are invited to take advantage of two new programs that are being offered by the credit union to support Canadians in need.

  • The company is allowing customers to defer their minimum monthly credit card payments
  • The company is increasing the limit on contactless payments, which is now eligible on transactions of up to $250

Meridian is also allowing customers to request to skip-a-payment on their mortgages.

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Jared Lindzon

Jared Lindzon is an experienced journalist, writer and public speaker. He specializes in Business, Technology, Lending and FinTech industries in Canada and abroad. Jared is a regular contributor to Smarter Loans and top tier publications around the World, including Fortune Magazine, Fast Company, the Guardian, Rolling Stone, the Globe and Mail, and many more.