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CERB Alternatives: How to Get CRA Cash for More Than 26 Weeks

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The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provided Canadians with $2,000 per month. It was deployed almost immediately when the pandemic was announced in Canada. Millions of Canadians signed on for the benefit, with over eight million receiving it. But today, it’s suddenly gone.

However, there are a number of alternatives you may already have heard about. Here, I’ll go through the ones offered by the Canada Revenue Agency, along with another alternative to consider.

The CRA benefits

There have been a number of changes to the benefits provided by the CRA. The main goal is to keep the economy open, making sure people are working if they can, and are supported if they can’t. That’s why these benefits are a lot more focused.

First, there’s the expansion of Employment Insurance (EI), so that you only need 120 hours of work to be able to apply for EI benefits. You can then receive $500 per week, or $300 if you are on parental leave. These changes will be in effect for the next year.

Then there is the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the most popular benefit right now. This benefit can be used if you cannot apply for EI, simply being self-employed or other reasons. For this benefit, you can receive $1,000 every two weeks for up to 26 weeks, applying every two weeks if your situation does not change.

Then there is the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), for those who are either looking after children under 12, or a dependent. In this case, if the long-term care facility or daycare or school is closed, you can apply for this benefit. You can apply for $500 once a week every week for up to 26 weeks.

Finally, there is the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), which comes into play if you actually contract or are at risk of contracting COVID-19. If you contracted the virus or came into contact with someone who had the virus and must self-isolate and are without EI, you can apply for this benefit. You can receive $500 every week for up to two weeks.

So, if each situation were to apply outside of EI, you could receive a full year of benefits. You could receive $13,000 from CRB if you are self-employed and unable to work due to COVID-19. You could then receive a further $13,000 if you then look after a child, for example, whose care facility continues to be closed. Finally, if you must self-isolate, you could receive another $1,000. That’s a total of $27,000 in benefits before taxes.

The problem?

This is a horrible situation to be in. Basically to receive all these benefits, you have to be looking after a dependent for free, be out of work, and then be at risk of contracting the virus. That’s definitely not an ideal situation, and you still would receive far less than minimum wage employment.

Another option? Investing in up-and-coming dividend companies like WPT Industrial REIT (TSX:WIR.U). This company has soared in the last year as it invested in light industrial real estate. This is used by e-commerce giants to ship and store products to consumers. The pandemic has created a boom in e-commerce, the benefits of which WPT Industrial is now swimming in.

Not only should the company’s share price soar over the next few years, but investors today can bring in a dividend yield of 5.74% as of writing. If you were to put $60,000 of your TFSA contribution room to this stock, that would be $3,455 in dividends each year for life! With zero risk of contracting a virus from investing in this solid e-commerce company.

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Fool contributor Amy Legate-Wolfe has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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