Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced yesterday that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is being extended by two more months. The program provided taxable payments of $2,000 for up to four months to Canadians who lost income because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That has now been extended to six months. “The reality is that there are three million people out of work who are looking for work, and even as our economy is reopening, there are many, many more people out of work, willing to work, than there are jobs available,” Trudeau said.
Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said CERB recipients for the new phase will be required to sign a form, set to be available on Sunday, July 5, acknowledging that the government is encouraging them to look for work, and to consult with the government’s job bank. “While the CERB has been helping millions of Canadian workers get through this difficult time, we know that this benefit is not a long-term solution,” she pointed out.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had called on the government to extend CERB for at least four months. “Millions of Canadians have been worried about how they’ll pay their bills this summer,” he said. “The government can’t put people in this situation again come August. Over the weeks ahead, we need a long-term plan to repair EI so that it’s is finally designed to continue to support workers that can’t go back to work and still need help.
Conservative employment critic MP Dan Albas added: “Canadians should not be penalized for returning to work. But that’s exactly how the Liberals’ programs are structured. Earning more than $1,000 a month results in a worker losing their entire benefit. Conservatives have called on the government to make the CERB more flexible so that no one is worse off going back to work or picking up a shift.” The Conservatives have called for a “scaled approach” that would allow people to collect a percentage of CERB while working more hours.