Tuesday June 16, 2020 ~ NATIONAL
by Mary Brooke, editor ~ West Shore Voice News
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been extended for Canadians in need for another eight weeks past early July. This takes the pressure off for people who are still without work or earning less than $1,000 per month.
The CERB program was first brought in mid-March, as an emergency support measure in 4-week periods ($500 per week, or commonly referred to as $2,000 per month) for Canadians to meet basic financial needs as the economy was shut down to avoid spread of the COVID-19 virus.
There is presently no effective treatment or any vaccine against COVID-19.
Political debate made this possible:
Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the CERB extension follows a week of pressure and debate by the NDP. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh bargained on behalf of Canadians for extension of the CERB, and in particular that the Liberal government’s idea of penalties (including fines and jail time) for intentional fraud with the CERB be scrapped.
Canadians had been promised that the government would ‘have their back’ during the pandemic; the sudden attempt by the Liberal government to want heavy punitive measures in the legislation for any CERB extension was indicative of not really understanding the dire need among Canadians. NDP caught the Liberals flat-footed on that one.
Application online and by phone, with more layers:
People who need CERB support may now continue to apply for the 4-week periods that fall in July/August, and August/September.
The same process of applying online or by phone will continue. But with a tougher line on attestation. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said today that stronger language will be added to the attestation portion of the application process, informing applicants that they should be looking for work.
“Many people will be able to find work, but others won’t,” said Trudeau.
“We can’t impose an obligation on somebody to take a job, but we are encouraging and saying that through the attestation, that people actively seek work and take it when it’s reasonable in their circumstances to do so,” she said. Though it’s not clear how that will apply to the self-employed people who also receive CERB.
Acceptable reasons for some Canadians to remain out of the workplace will include things like not having access to childcare or having COVID-19 symptoms, said Qualtrough.
Looking for work vs providing jobs:
Trudeau said today that while a economic reopening is underway, there’s “a long journey ahead” before there is a restoration of all sectors and that everyone who has been laid off finds jobs.
“The reality is that even as we start to reopen, a lot of people still need this support to pay their bills while they look for work,” the prime minister said.
The hope by government is that those who will eventually run out of CERB support will keep trying to find work. This also depends on the business sector providing jobs, but the wage subsidy (of now 75%) offered to businesses has not had a lot of uptake (it requires the business to still pay 25% of wages for employees they might not need right now, and would likely require a lot of preparation by accountants to provide the detailed documentation proving loss of revenues compared to the previous months/year etc).
Local Member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) issued a bulletin to constituents yesterday saying that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has been extended for Canadians (without mention of for how long). Trudeau’s specific timeline announcement of eight weeks came today.
“We are pleased to share that CERB is now due to be extended, and that Canadians will continue to have the support they need,” said MacGregor in a statement today in his E-Newsletter here on South Vancouver Island.
CERB has been available since early March, paying $500 per week in 4-week periods (i.e. effectively $2,000 per month). The application process has been quite simple and demanded very little ‘proof’ of need. But that safety net was going to dry up by early July unless the program was extended. The economic impact would have created immense social upheaval, something Canadians and their government certainly would have found to be overwhelming during a pandemic.
The pandemic continues:
The COVID-19 socioeconomic pandemic scenario will continue in various iterations until there is an effective treatment or vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.
Most public health officials do not expect a vaccine (as tested and ready for distribution) for probably at least another year. That sees the economic impacts of pandemic management (including physical distancing, which impacts the fluidity of business and society) lasting until probably the end of 2021.