cancel ei for cerb

How to cancel EI and apply for CERB in Canada

How to cancel EI and apply for CERB is a common concern right now as Canadians out of work due to the pandemic continue to wade through some confusion surrounding federal financial assistance programs.

A key dilemma many citizens are facing is that they had already applied for Employment Insurance, the existing government program for eligible residents who've recently lost insurable employment, before the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit was introduced on March 25.

The CERB was designed specifically in response to the current health crisis, streamlining the process by which those who meet criteria for funds can receive them, and also taking pressure off the overloaded EI application system.

Some people on EI are now wondering if they should now cancel their claim and apply for the CERB instead. The simple answer from the Government of Canada at this time is no, you shouldn't.

Though the feds are encouraging those who have lost some or all of their income because of the pandemic and are just applying for benefits now to do so through the CERB portal, they are advising anyone already on EI for this reason (or any other reason) to continue with the EI program until the end of their benefit period.

Anyone who applied for EI in the days leading up to the advent of CERB — submitting claims on March 15 or after — have been automatically switched over to CERB instead of EI by the Canada Revenue Agency, and will be receiving the $2,000 monthly CERB amount through EI and Service Canada rather than through the CERB portal directly.

These people will need to submit bi-weekly reports, as they would with regular EI, to continue receiving funds. CERB recipients who applied through the dedicated CERB portal, meanwhile, need to re-apply every four-week period for up to four months.

If you do, for whatever reason, need to or decide to cancel an existing EI claim, you must contact the benefits provider by phone at 1-800-206-7218, but the government notes that "your decision to terminate a claim is final and cannot be changed."

It is worth noting that though the CERB (a set amount) has served as somewhat of a catchall for those whose usual modes of income have been impacted by the COVID-19 situation, there are certain people who better qualify for EI (which varies on how much your income was before job loss), like those on parental or non-coronavirus sickness leave.

It is also important for residents to remember not to apply for both CERB and EI under any circumstances, or to apply for one while receiving benefits in the same period from the other — though you may erroneously get paid out for both, you will end up having to return this extra money to the government.

Recipients of any financial assistance will also have to pay tax on the amounts next tax season.

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