TORONTO -- The federal government is offering new financial support for Canadians whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Applications for the CERB opened on April 6, and can be made retroactively as far back as March 15.

According to the government, the CERB will provide workers who have lost income due to the pandemic with $2,000 every four weeks, for up to 16 weeks. It covers those who have lost their jobs permanently or temporarily – including contract workers and the self-employed – as well as those who are sick, those who are caring for someone who is sick, and parents who are staying home to care for children whose schools are closed.

CERB recipients will have to reapply after each four-week cycle to confirm that they are still eligible. Once the full 16 weeks are up, the regular EI program will resume, as things stand now.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced April 15 that the benefit had been expanded to also cover those who have run out of employment insurance, seasonal workers unable to find a job during the pandemic, and workers earning less than $1,000 per month.

Canadians will be able to apply for the benefit through this webpage or by calling 1-800-959-2019.

The government says successful applicants will start to receive CERB payments within three to five days if they sign up online and include banking information for direct deposit, or within 10 days of a telephone application.

More information about the CERB is available on the program's website.