Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was stern in today’s news conference when he stated, “the country is still contending with the first wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Loosening controls too quickly could mean the country gives up the ground gained.”
Approximately six million people have applied for the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The government is taking additional steps to ensure that more Canadians are eligible for the program.
The Prime Minister announced today that it will be expanding the numbers of those who will qualify for the program – with an emphasis on essential and seasonal workers.
Those workers currently receiving up to $1,000 per month in salary will now be eligible for the CERB, a taxable benefit, for up to four months. For those seasonal workers, whose Employment Insurance (EI) benefits have run out and are unable to continue in these jobs due to COVID-19 are now eligible. Those who have been on EI and it is now exhausted, will be also be eligible to apply for the CERB.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, stated “the government is stepping up to better support those who need help but don’t qualify for the CERB, and Canadians working in essential jobs who make less than they would if they received the benefit.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed particular demands on low-income workers in certain sectors, including those on the front-line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, or providing essential retail services to Canadians.
“We will do whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians, while making sure that our workers and businesses are supported. This is an extremely difficult time for all Canadians, and we need to make sure that essential workers have the support they need so they can continue to do the critical work we all rely on. Together, we will get through this difficult time,” stated the Prime Minister.
In recognition that these essential workers’ salaries are often less or similar than what they would receive from the CERB, the government will work with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 a month. Details as to the application and delivery of this measure will be released shortly following further work with provinces and territories. This measure could help several million workers currently involved in the COVID-19 response. The government will continue to look for ways to better help all Canadians during this difficult time.