Is CERB social assistance?

CERB is an abbreviation for Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Of course, CERB refers to a $2000 monthly payment that the Canadian government offered in 2020. The payment covered people who had lost their jobs or faced furlough due to the economic downturn of COVID-19. However, can we consider CERB as social assistance?

What is social assistance?

Before answering if CERB is social assistance, we need to know what social assistance is. Of course, our best reference is the immigration law. According to section 2 of IRPR:

Social assistance means any benefit in the form of money, goods or services provided to or on behalf of a person by a province under a program of social assistance, including a program of social assistance designated by a province to provide for basic requirements, including food, shelter, clothing, fuel, utilities, household supplies, personal requirements and health care not provided by public health care, including dental care and eye care.

Referring to this definition, social assistance is usually a provincial initiative. Of course, it covers the necessities of people in need.

Social assistance and sponsorship applications

A person who sponsors their family members to Canada under the family reunification programs must meet certain requirements. One of the key requirements is that the sponsor must be financially sound. Consequently, under paragraph 133(1)(k) of IRPR, the sponsor cannot be in “in receipt of social assistance for a reason other than disability.” As you can see, if you receive social assistance, you may not sponsor your spouse, common-law partner, children, parents or other relatives to Canada. However, for more details on other conditions, consider reading the following articles:

CERB is not social assistance

The good news is that CERB is not social assistance. Therefore, it won’t make you ineligible to sponsor your loved ones. However, you need to meet the rest of the requirements (income, age, clean record, etc.).

Is CERB income?

Although CERB is not social assistance, it is a taxable income. In other words, you have to report it as income to CRA when filing your taxes. Consequently, it could increase your year 2020 gross income and help you sponsor your family members. For example, see the following article for the income requirements in sponsoring your parents or grandparents (PGP).

Other benefits that are not social assistance

You may like to know on top of CERB; the following benefits are also not social assistance but taxable income:

  • EI – Employment Insurance
  • CRB – Canada Recovery Benefit

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    Al Parsai

    Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches the official immigration consulting courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al who holds a Masters degree from Yorkville University is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented hundreds of applicants from more than 30 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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