Federal government details support programs for Canadians coping with the coronavirus

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The federal government says Canadians effected by the coronavirus need to choose between The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

During an update on COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said you can’t get both.

He says businesses can apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) website. He repeated his call for businesses to top up wages not covered by the 75 per cent subsidy and threatened businesses that take undo advantage with stiff penalties.

During a news conference Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is launching in 3 to 6 weeks and funds will be available within 6 weeks after that. Businesses will need to show revenue fell 30 per cent in March, April, or May from the same time last year. They’ll also need to reapply each month.

“Get ready to rehire people,” Morneau said.

Businesses that do rehire now will be reimbursed through the program.

He also says the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will cost $71 billion and reduce the cost of CERB to $24 billion.

Those receiving CERB or Employment Insurance (EI) need to show they are without work once a month. The Prime Minister also reiterated that if you’re already getting EI, you don’t need to apply for CERB. He says CERB is on track to be up and running for applications by April 6th, and you can apply through the government of Canada’s website.

“By selecting direct deposit you should receive your payment within 3 to 5 days,” said the Prime Minister.

If you need assistance setting up direct deposit for CERB, you can call the CRA for help over the phone. If you opt for getting a cheque in the mail, the Prime Minister says you’ll get it within 10 days.

“The bottom line is that we're getting you the help you need, when you need it,” said the Prime Minister.

“We have a plan to protect jobs to help those who've been laid off, and to support businesses that are having cashflow problems. And we're not done yet.”

During a news conference, President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos said applications for CERB will be based on month of birth to avoid overburdening the system. People born on January, February, and March can apply on April 6. Those born April, May, and June apply on April 7. April the 8 is for those born in July, August, and September. April 9 is for those born in October, November and December.

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough, also during the news conference, says people with reduced hours and reduced income aren’t the target for CERB and do not qualify. Income must have dropped to zero.

“If your hours are reduced we’re trying to figure out how that interplays with other provincial options,” she said.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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