HALIFAX -- Starting next week, Canadians who have been laid off because of COVID-19 can start applying to the federal government for financial help.

Meaghan Matheson was one of many Canadians laid off last week because of COVID-19.

"I don't think any of us have been through this before, not just being laid off, but just the situation the world is in," Matheson said.

But knowing that she will be eligible for help from the federal government's emergency response benefit brings a bit of comfort right now.

"It's going to be huge help to me and my family and probably a lot of other families," Matheson said.

To be eligible for the benefit, you need to have lost employment due to COVID-19, be living in Canada, and be at least 15 years of age.

You need to have had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or within the 12-month period prior to making the application.

As well, the benefit is for people who expect to be without employment due to COVID-19 for at least 14 days in a row within the initial four-week period.

But, not everybody who is unemployed right now will be eligible.

If you are looking a job, but haven't stopped working due to COVID-19, the federal government says you are not eligible.

Starting on Monday, Canadians can apply for the temporary income support, providing $500 dollars a week over a four-month period.

The federal government says a direct deposit of the benefit could be made within three to five days, with a cheque being sent in 10 days.

"We need to make sure we're getting that money out quickly, but also reliably to Canadians, and that means doing things government hasn't done before," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

About 2.1 million people in Canada have applied for employment insurance (EI) benefits during a two-week period.

"I take a little bit of comfort in knowing that it's not just me," Matheson said. "Not that I get any pleasure out of anybody losing their job, but I am comforted that we are all in this together."

You can apply for the program through either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency -- but not both.

The federal government says people who've applied for EI do not need to re-apply for this program.