TORONTO -- The federal government is offering new financial support for Canadians whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unprecedented suite of measures includes enhanced eligibility for employment insurance (EI) as well as a new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Also promised is an up-to-75-per-cent wage subsidy for workers who remain on the payroll of small and medium-sized businesses that have lost at least 30 per cent of their gross revenue and do not receive federal funding. This subsidy carries a maximum of $847 per worker per week and will be directly paid to businesses.

Accessing EI and CERB, however, requires action on the part of laid-off workers.

According to the government, those who are unable to work because they have been directed to self-isolate or quarantine will not have to wait the usual one week to receive EI sickness benefits.

Additionally, the sickness benefits can be accessed without the usual requirement of a doctor's note or other medical certificate.

The application for EI sickness benefits is available here.

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

The government has asked Canadians to apply by birth month, with those born in January, February and March applying on Mondays, those born in April, May and June applying on Tuesdays, those born in July, August and September applying on Wednesdays and those born in October, November and December applying on Thursdays.

According to the government, the CERB will provide workers who have lost their income due to the pandemic with $500 a week 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, parents who are staying home to care for children whose schools are closed.

Once the 16 weeks are up, the regular EI program will resume, as things stand now.

Canadians will be able to apply for the benefit through CRA MyAccount 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.

According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, recipients will have to "check in" with the program every month to confirm that they are still out of work.

Trudeau has also said that the government is considering further assistance for workers affected by the pandemic.

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