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Hundreds of thousands of applications already submitted for COVID-19 emergency benefit: PM

Last Updated Apr 6, 2020 at 12:27 pm EDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, April 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

240,000 people have already applied and been approved for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Trudeau said Monday

The CERB opened for applications on Monday from people born between January and March, to start

The benefit is for people who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Just several hours after it became operational, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said hundreds of thousands of applications had already been submitted and approved for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The CERB launched early Monday, and started accepting applications from people who were born between January and March, to start. The restriction to people born between those dates was meant to help keep the system from crashing.

“For everyone else, you’ll be able to apply another day this week depending on your birth month,” Trudeau said.

CERB payments could start appearing in people’s bank accounts as early as this week, with those who qualify expected to receive $2,000 per month for the next four months.

The benefit is aimed at helping Canadians who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone who has already been approved for Employment Insurance benefits will not have to resubmit their application — it will automatically be moved over to the new benefit.

The CERB is available to Canadian workers over the age of 15 who are not expecting an income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period because of the pandemic. Workers must have had an income of at least $5,000 last year or 12 months prior to the date of the application.

The site warns because of the high number of applications, there may be technical difficulties.

More help coming

Anyone who’s been excluded from previous federal COVID-19 relief is being promised more help is on the way.

Trudeau acknowledged part-timers and students who have fallen through the cracks with previous efforts in his address on Monday.

The prime minister said his government would soon be announcing help for people who don’t currently qualify for the CERB, which also includes those who have lost a substantial amount of income because of the coronavirus crisis — but not all of their income.

“There are groups of people who aren’t benefiting from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit who probably should. I think specifically of people who’ve seen their hours reduced massively,” Trudeau said.

“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.”

Trudeau also thanked banks and credit unions which have agreed to cut interest rates in half for people whose incomes have been affected by the crisis.

-With files from Martin MacMahon, Hana Mae Nassar, Cormac Mac Sweeney, Liza Yuzda, Nikitha Martins, and Tarnjit Parmar

More to come.