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Canada Emergency Response Benefit a good step, but CFIB repeats call for 75 per cent wage subsidy

Avoiding layoffs is best way to ensure economy can roar back after crisis, it says


March 26, 2020
By Talent Canada Staff

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Photo: Courtesy PMO

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit — a move by Ottawa to provide $2,000 per month to workers who have lost their job, including self-employed workers — is being applauded by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

It called the money a “significant step forward” in addressing the economic emergency facing Canada in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are particularly pleased that the federal government has indicated an employer will not have to lay off a worker to allow them to qualify for the benefit,” it said in a press relsase.

How this will operate in practice remains a question employers will need quickly resolved, it said. CFIB also called on provincial governments to amend labour legislation to ensure an employer can move an employee to be paid by the CERB or temporarily lay them off to collect Employment Insurance without triggering normal termination pay requirements.

CFIB calls for greater wage subsidy

The program does not change the CFIB’s view that Ottawa’s wage subsidy of 10 per cent for employees is insufficient.

It repeated calls for a much more aggressive subsidy — 75 per cent of wages for all employers, up to a cap of $5,000 per worker per month.

“A direct wage subsidy to employers will be a far faster way to ensure workers are paid than the CERB, particularly as the new program will not begin until early April and will pay workers only once per month,” it said. “A wage subsidy will also help employers who can keep their employees working from home but have no or limited business income with which to pay them.

CFIB is focused on measures that will keep the connections between workers and employers and not require layoffs, it said.

“This is imperative to ensure employees can go back to work the day after the emergency ends, allowing Canada’s economy to return to normal as quickly as possible.”