On June 16, 2020, the federal government announced that it is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) eligibility period by eight weeks for recipients who can’t yet go back to work as the coronavirus pandemic continues. This means that those who will soon run out of the special benefit will have until the end of the summer to keep claiming it ($2,000 a month) while they try to find work. Moreover, the extension means the first cohort of applicants who signed up in April and were set to max out their payment periods in early July won’t have to worry if they have no job to go back to over the summer or are unable to work because their health is precarious.
As a result, the CERB is extended from 16 weeks to 24 weeks for workers who:
- stopped working due to COVID-19;
- are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits; or
- have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019, and October 3, 2020.
The government continues to emphasize that it is looking for ways to incentivize returning to work when it is reasonable to do so rather than staying home and staying on the financial aid program, but Prime Minister Trudeau did not indicate during his Rideau Cottage address any major changes coming to the eligibility criteria or funding amount.
Prime Minister Trudeau said that, moving forward, the government is looking at “international best practices,” and will “monitor the economy and the progression of the virus to see what changes, if any, need to be made to the program so that more people are properly supported.” More details will be shared later this week according to the Prime Minister.
Close to 1.2 million Canadians have dropped off the program before maxing out their 16-week eligibility, meaning they have either gone back to work or have been moved onto the wage subsidy program through their employer. As of June 4, the federal government has spent a total of $43.5 billion sending more than 8.4 million Canadians the $2,000 a month payments.
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