How to Apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) if you’re Contract Worker or Self Employed

The Canadian government has stepped up to help Canadians who have lost their jobs, hopefully only temporarily, due to being shut down because of the Covid-19 stay at home orders.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit gives eligible people $2,000/month to help us through this difficult time. Originally this benefit was only for laid off employees with regular jobs where deductions are taken off your paycheque. Now the CERB is available for self-employed contract workers.

I had a link, ready to use to apply on Wednesday, the day September babies can enroll:

However, it took me about ten minutes to find the right path to where I really needed to apply.

My situation is a little different, but I’m sure others are in the same boat. The questionnaire asked about my main source of income in 2019. However, that’s not my source of income in 2020. But I followed through on the incorrect link, which was basically taking me to the enrollment for Employment Insurance benefits, which is still activating the $2,000/month CERB.

My situation

My problem? After my employment ended last year, I applied for Employment Insurance and was on it for a long time while looking for a job. My biggest job hurdle is ageism is alive and well in Canada.

I had many job interviews.

My employment insurance benefits ran out earlier in 2020.

Fortunately at the end of February, I was offered work as a contract worker, essentially I’m self-employed. My job? Driving pick up trucks across the border from Surrey, BC to Ferndale, Washington.

OK. I’m sure everyone can see where this is going!

I only got in a handful of shifts before the land border between Canada and the USA was closed down to non-essential travel. Commercial travel is still open, but importing pick up trucks is hardly an essential service.

Ever since I heard about it, I’ve been hoping I’m eligible for CERB because my employment insurance from my 2019 end of employment has run its course.

Found it

If you’re self-employed or a contract worker and you’re shut down due to Covid-19, you have to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) through the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency).

Here’s how you find it.

Do you have a My Service Canada account?

If not, here’s where you register:

This is the website where you can access other things like Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan, so you should register if you haven’t already done so.

If you already have a My Service Canada account, you log in at that exact same webpage:

Once you’re logged in, look for a link that says to click here to go to the CRA to apply for the Canada Emergecy Response Benefit.

From there it’s pretty easy. Took me five minutes. Less time than it took me to find the correct webpage to apply for a contract worker!

You just answer a couple of questions that you’re self-employed and your income has been affected due to Covid-19.

There’s a lot of reading that if you provided false information you’ll be required to repay the benefit.

Then it asks for your payment information to direct deposit the CERB to your bank account. My banking information was already on file with the CRA for income tax refunds and GST rebate. The website brought up my banking info and asked if it was correct.

All good!

Then it finished by telling me the money will be deposited in the next three business days.

Oh, it also says this benefit is taxable.


The application process did not ask me for any proof of contract work.

Fortunately, I have a contract with my company that I’m a self-employed contract worker, I have a pay stub, and notice that border crossings are on hold for awhile.

Well, no kidding. Anyone who’s watched the news knows that!

Anyway, I can prove that I’m a contract worker who’s currently unemployed due to measures directly attributed to Covid-19 if anyone asks.

However, I get the feeling that Service Canada is swamped right now and not following up with individuals.

So don’t cheat! You will get caught eventually.

Good luck to you.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

More reading:

This Will Pass, but how do we Cope in this Age of Coronavirus?

Are you Worried when you Cough and Sneeze?

Who Else Wants to Help Me or be Here for Me?

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