The federal government has streamlined the COVID-19 emergency benefits program and says that Canadians in financial difficulty can now expect payments in a few weeks.
The application process is expected to open in early April, and income support payments of approximately $ 2,000 per month are expected to be made approximately 10 days later. Benefits will be available for four months.
The government is streamlining the financial support system as it struggles to cope with an unprecedented volume of EI claims.
The new program combines two previously announced benefits – emergency care and emergency support – into one.
The Canadian Emergency Allowance (CERB) offers income support of up to 16 weeks to those who lose their wages due to the pandemic. Government press release says “simpler, more accessible” program will cover Canadians who have lost their jobs, become ill, are in quarantine, or have to stay home due to school closings.
It is offered to employees, contract workers and the self-employed who are not eligible for employment insurance (EI).
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that almost a million people have applied for EI benefits in the past week alone. In his daily speech to the nation from his residence at Rideau Cottage, he acknowledged that many Canadians feel stressed about paying their bills because they are losing their income due to the global pandemic.
“The hard truth is that people are out of work due to this crisis and are worried about what will follow. So I want you to know that we will be there to help you. Our government is doing everything we can to be there for you, “he said.
The online portal to apply for CERB will be available in early April, and people can expect payments within 10 days. CERB payments will be issued every four weeks and will be available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.
“Unprecedented” volume of EI claims
“The employment insurance system was not designed to handle the unprecedented volume of claims received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have stopped working because of COVID-19, whether or not they are eligible for employment insurance, could receive CERB to guarantee them quick access to income support, including they need, “said the government statement.
Trudeau said the government is redeploying staff from other departments to process requests and to respond to requests from Canadians.
Other elements of the emergency response plan:
- Canadians who are already receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) sickness and benefits as of today will continue to receive benefits and should not apply to CERB.
- Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose claims have not yet been processed do not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for regular EI and sickness benefits can still access these benefits if they are still unemployed after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
Today’s announcement comes shortly after a law to pass the $ 82 billion emergency response program, which includes $ 27 billion in supports and $ 55 billion in tax deferrals, was passed by the Senate. It was adopted in the House of Commons early today after tense negotiations between political parties.
Calls for direct income support
Dozens of Canadian business groups call on governments to make a “national effort” to protect jobs and keep essentials moving during the COVID-19 crisis – one that would include direct income support for laid-off workers .
In a joint statement released Wednesday, more than 60 organizations representing a range of industries – including power pipelines, breweries, aviation, drugs and forestry – call for the proposed 10 percent wage subsidy “a not in the right direction, “adding that more is being done to help businesses and workers weather the pandemic.
“Canadian companies are ready and able to take on the COVID-19 challenge. We will work to ensure that Canadians have the food to feed their families, the fuel to heat our homes and to move essential services, equipment and facilities to care for the sick and the communication systems that unite us. even that we are separated from each other, “reads the press release published by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
“To win this fight, we need all the human and financial resources we can and we must be able to focus all of our attention on this fight.”
The groups want governments to provide more direct funding to employees, and point to other countries that have offered to cover up to 80% of the earnings of employees whose jobs are threatened by the health emergency.
“We encourage the government to support the economy by implementing income supports at levels similar to those in Denmark and the United Kingdom,” the statement said.