'While it is too soon to end CERB as thousands do not have a job to which to return, changes are needed for the recovery phase'
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is giving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program an eight-week extension to ensure Canadians have the help they need as they transition back to work.
"We know that many Canadians across the country are still facing a really tough time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to take action to better support them,” says Trudeau. “By extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canadians will be able to continue to buy groceries and pay their bills as we work together to safely and effectively restart the economy."
Trudeau noted that workers who are receiving the CERB and still cannot work because they are unable to find a job will keep getting $2,000 a month. The extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks.
Over the next few weeks, the government will also monitor international best practices, the economy and the progression of the virus and, if needed, make necessary changes to the program so more people can have the support they need, says Trudeau.
Dan Kelly, President and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), welcomed the extension, but reiterated that modifications must be made to the program.
CFIB wants parliament to pass proposed legislation to end CERB benefits if an employer offers a return to work, to require CERB beneficiaries to be available and looking for work and to allow CERB recipients to earn more than $1,000 without losing all benefits, said Kelly on Twitter.
“A growing [number] of employers are reporting CERB is serving to delay employees' return to work. This was one of the program's intended goals during shutdown. While it is too soon to end CERB as thousands do not have a job to which to return, changes are needed for the recovery phase,” says Kelly.
CFIB has earlier called for changes on both the CERB and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) programs as the country's economies continue to reopen.
The federal government said it will also make changes to the CERB attestation, which will encourage Canadians receiving the benefit to find employment and consult Job Bank, Canada's national employment service that offers tools to help with job searches.
In April, the government expanded the CERB to cover more Canadian workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has also expanded the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to cover more Canadians and businesses facing difficult challenges as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak.