By Todd Humber
The federal government is expanding the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This is the $2,000 per month payment that goes to people who have lost work because of COVID-19 and don’t otherwise qualify for employment insurance.
“This includes topping up the pay of essential workers,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “At the same time, we’ll also be expanding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to reach people who are earning some income, as well as for seasonal workers who are facing no jobs and for those who have run out of EI recently.”
Long-term care workers
Trudeau talked specifically about helping long-term care workers who are making less than $2,500 per month. He is meeting with provincial and territorial leaders tomorrow and will be discussing this plan and “the importance of getting this wage boost in place as quickly as possible.” But he said the boost would apply to “essential workers,” though it’s not clear what that means at this point.
Workers earning some income
Workers who make up to $1,000 per month are now eligible for the CERB, he said.
“Maybe you’re a volunteer firefighter or a contractor who can still pick up some shifts, or you have a part-time job in a grocery store,” said Trudeau. “Even if you’re still working or if you want to start working again, you probably need help in making ends meet.”
There has been criticism from some employers that the $2,000 per month paid under the CERB was making it hard to hire workers in jobs that paid lower wages. They simply weren’t willing to risk their health to take a job when they can make just as much — or even more — by staying home.
Trudeau specifically said seasonal workers are now eligible — but didn’t specifically define who is covered as a “seasonal worker.” For example, he did not say students who don’t have summer jobs or can’t find one are now eligible for the CERB. Talent Canada will continue to monitor statements and policies surrounding the CERB to bring you this information.
“If you were expecting a seasonal job that isn’t coming because of COVID-19, you’ll now be able to apply,” he said. “And if you’ve run out of EI since Jan. 1, you can now apply for the CERB as well.”
The prime minister said more news is coming for post-secondary students and businesses who are worried about commercial rent.
“We’ll have more to say to you very soon,” he said. “No matter who you are, or where you live, we’re in your corner.”