Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
COVID-19 – Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Release date: November 17, 2021Updated on: July 13, 2022


Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments received during the reference period. This benefit was intended to provide financial support to employees and self‑employed Canadians who had lost their job or were working fewer hours due to the COVID‑19 pandemic and the public health measures implemented to minimize the spread of the virus.

For the 2021 Census, the reference period for income data is the calendar year 2020, unless otherwise specified.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 (100% data).

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and over in private households

Question number(s)

Variable derived based on administrative tax and benefit records received from the Canada Revenue Agency.


Positive dollar value or nil


See 'Remarks' under total income.

This variable is a component of the COVID‑19 – Emergency and recovery benefits, which is itself a component of Government transfers not included elsewhere.

The CERB paid a taxable $2,000 for each 4‑week eligible period up to a maximum of 7 periods (or $500 per week for a maximum period of 28 weeks). The benefit eligibility period was from March 15, 2020 through September 26, 2020.

To be eligible for the CERB, one must meet the following eligibility criteria:

Effective September 27, 2020, those who are still unable to work were transitioned to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) program or the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).

For additional information about COVID-19 benefits, data collection method, coverage, reference period, concepts, data quality and intercensal comparability of the income data, refer to the Income Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2021.

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