My clarification on eligibility for CERB for small businesses owners

First: If you are a small business owner whose business is earning some revenue BUT you are not being paid (during the period in question)

I was told you could apply (as long as you also meet the other requirements, e.g. having been paid a minimum of $5,000 in the past 12 months. I had to be referred to a supervisor, who also conferred with his colleagues, however the fact that makes the difference is if you are not being paid. Your business may be making some revenue but if your business cannot afford to pay you – you may apply.

Secondly, small business owners who are pensioners

Do not appear to be excluded from receiving the CERB. Several of our GVers have applied and been accepted.


Patricia Dent


    1. Thanks Kristen – just as I appreciate your advising small business on how to manage their cash and assets, especially if they are trying to make important decisions about deferring mortgage interest – and figuring out how to manage right now. We can do so much to support each other. It’s the very best thing about our community.

    1. Thanks Katherine – just as you are an awesome advocate for health! I’ll be forever grateful for your help and advice on making changes in my diet to battle cancer – even before it was confirmed. Now 6 years later – still clear! Thank you.

  1. Hi Patricia,

    I’m a small business owner and work full time. My small business supplements my full time salary. My business has flatlined since COVID and I have brought in zero revenue. Since I’m still collecting salary from my “day job”, am I eligible to apply for any benefit programs for my business?

    I’m certain there are many in the same situation as me.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Mike
      Thanks for your question – and I’m sorry that your business is suffering. I can only go by my experience and the written guidelines. I called them directly to verify which earnings/non-earnings qualify for that reason. My guess is that if you are earning from any source you would not be eligible for the CERB – but you should check with CRA.

      I was first told that if my business was earning revenue I would not be eligible. But I was able to clarify that if I were working, and my business made some money but wasn’t able to pay me (according to the guidelines), then I would qualify. I would fall into the category of still working but not earning money. However in my example, my business would be the only source of income for me.

      I would encourage you to call and clarify because it would provide evidence of other situations that employees and entrepreneurs are experiencing. The Prime Minister mentioned today that they were still looking at gaps in the CERB, and your situation would be a case of reduced earnings (since your self-employed income supplements your employee income). One of the situations I hope for is that the CERB benefit would be pro-rated for reduced normal levels of earnings. (I would also suggest that you record the name and badge number of the CRA employee you discuss this with for future reference). I’d appreciate if you were able to let me know how this turns out.

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