Emergency and recovery benefits (ERB)

Detailed information for March/Septembre 2020





Record number:


This statistical program is intended to cover the major income support measures offered to Canadians as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. These direct support programs include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

To provide context to the receipt of benefits, in addition to basic characteristics of benefit recipients, such as age, gender and location of residence, additional characteristics are obtained though integration with other statistical data held by Statistics Canada. Information on employment income bracket in the previous year as well as main industry of activity and size of employer are available as well as other limited information from the 2016 Census long form providing several characteristics as measured in 2016 and immigration period and immigrants from administrative data.

Data release - June 2, 2021


Understanding the data behind these income support transfers during the pandemic can tell us a great deal on the users of the benefit programs, their income level and industry of work as well as how frequently different population groups have had access to the emergency programs. They can also speak to the impact that these benefits have on the recipient's personal and family income, and their overall financial vulnerability. This program will also allow for the assessment of whether the benefits from these programs are replacing lost earnings and income sources, and potentially identify population groups who may be in need of assistance. This information is necessary to answer Canadians' questions about who has been receiving CERB and other income supports, and how much the recovery benefit amounts have offset income losses from other sources. It will also help to inform decisions on how long to maintain these programs and if there is a requirement for other government benefit programs.

Reference period: Benefit weeks (Sunday to Saturday)

Data sources and methodology

Target population

These data intend to cover all persons who were awarded a benefit under the five income support programs as well as the Canadian population who had some form of employment income in 2019.

Instrument design

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2020-03-15 to 2020-09-26

Data are extracted from administrative files.

The data brings together information from the Canada Emergency Benefits (CEB) and other administrative files to provide a base population among which we can compute take-up rates. This includes variables presenting the earnings bracket based on the T4 (paid employment income) and T1 (for self-employment income) from 2019 administrative files received from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Variables for the NAICS industry code for employees and employer size class are based on the Business registry and T1 declaration files of the CRA. The age, sex, disability status, marital status, presence of children and geographic location are also based on the CRA's T1 records of Individual Identity.

A second integration brings some information from the 2016 Census long form. This data source only covered the people living in private households in 2016 and thus has some limitation in terms of the coverage, those variables would only be available for persons present and in scope in 2016.

Error detection

During processing, the data on paid benefits go through a series of edits prior to linkage to ensure that there are no duplicate records and that no data mandatory for matching is missing. Duplicate records may have existed for situations where individuals may have been repaid a second for various reasons. For example, program eligibility criteria may not have been made clear to the public at the inception of benefits program. There may confusion on agency at which to apply, while reports of identity theft also exist.

Those with outliers are identified then examined and those identified as erroneous are corrected manually. Variables where negative values should not be possible are also checked and adjusted as needed.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This methodology does not apply.

Quality evaluation

The use of administrative data coming from outside Statistics Canada can limit the level of quality control over the data. Comparisons between the received files to those from previous months are applied to detect and correct possible anomalies. In addition, estimates are revised in light of updated files sent by data providers. Finally, structural changes done to the files could impact the data, and/or delay production and data release.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Once the data are finalized, they are not revised. For analyses, data are sometimes adjusted to constant dollars for comparison with data from other years, but only current dollars are kept on the file.

Data accuracy

Since estimates are based on administrative data, there is no sampling variability. However, changes in the data do not reflect only changes in the labour market or pandemic conditions. These statistics may have been affected by changes to the CERB program or administrative procedures.

EI statistics indicate the number of people who received CERB benefits, and should not be confused with data coming from Employment Insurance statistics.

Date modified: