Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new measures to help workers who’ve lost their job or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic today, including the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) which would see anyone eligible receive $2,000 a month for up to four months.
Speaking at a press conference outside Rideau Cottage Wednesday, where the PM has been in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for the virus, Trudeau announced the new proposed legislation to help Canadians in need.
“The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000 a month for the next four months for workers who lose their income as a result of COVID-19,” he said.
“This will replace the two benefits we announced last week — the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit — in order to streamline the process. Like I said from the start, we will adapt our approach whenever needed.”
This new benefit would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.
The CERB would also apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Any workers who are still employed but aren’t receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19 would also qualify for the CERB.
The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15 until October 3.
“The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week,” notes a press release from the federal government.
“Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.”
Anyone currently receiving EI benefits will continue to receive them and should not apply for the CERB, but residents are free to apply if their benefits cease at any point.
The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April, and Canadians would start to receive payments 10 days after applying.
“We know that people are worried about their health, their jobs and their financial situations. Our government is doing whatever it takes to protect the health and safety of Canadians, and to support workers, families and businesses,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau in a statement.
“The Canada Emergency Response Benefit would make sure that money gets in the hands of workers as quickly as possible to support them in their time of need, and would help businesses keep their employees during this difficult period,” Morneau continued.
“Canadians can rest assured that the government stands ready to take any and all necessary actions as we continue to confront these challenging times together.”