Trudeau: CERB now helps people running out of EI and those making $1,000 or less

Speaking to the country Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more changes to the Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

Trudeau says the CERB will be available to Canadians who have exhausted their employment insurance (EI) benefits since Jan. 1st, those who earn $1,000 a month or less and seasonal workers who can’t find work during the Covid-19 pandemic. The federal government will be topping up pay for essential workers. The PM says they will be working with provinces to increase the pay of essential workers who are making less than $2,500 a month.

Those earning $1,000 or less can now apply for help

“If you’re earning $1,000 or less per month right now, you can apply for the benefit and get the help you need. If you have a seasonal job and there won’t be any work for you this year because of COVID-19, you can now apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. And if you can’t find a job or return to work but have recently exhausted your EI benefits, you can apply now too. And if you’re an essential worker who’s making less than $2,500 a month, we’re working with the provinces and territories to boost your wages. We’re going to make sure you have the support you need so you can continue to do the critical work that so many of us rely on,” said Trudeau.

Trudeau says there’s more help on the way for post-secondary students and businesses worried about commercial rent. “There will be more to say to for these groups soon.”

Half of small business owners are confident their business will survive

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has a release out today (Wed) saying “90 per cent of small businesses want provincial governments to provide hardship grants to help cover rent and other costs and deal with their mounting debt.”

Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president, says only half of small business owners are confident their business will survive if current conditions last until the end of May. The average small business rent is $10,000 a month in Canada.

  • 85 per cent of businesses think the situation will get worse for their business before it gets better;
  • 80 per cent are worried about cash flow;
  • Average small business rent is $10,000 a month (with a wide range around this number);
  • 75 per cent think businesses that can respect social distancing and provide protection for employees should be allowed to reopen.

Related: Covid-19 recession will be worst since Great Depression
The IMF said the “Great Lockdown” coronavirus pandemic will create a more serious recession than the Great Depression in the 1930s before rebounding in 2021 with 5.8 per cent growth.

Loosening restrictions, ‘still weeks away’

Trudeau was asked about coordinating with the provinces on opening the economy. “It will be weeks more before we can seriously consider loosening the restrictions. It would be terrible is we release restrictions too early and we’re in another big wave. If we re-open too soon everything were doing may be for nothing.”

Concerns about the WHO taking the word of China

The Prime Minister was asked about the WHO and if he felt they sufficiently interrogated China at the onset of the pandemic? “I think what we need to remember is the path through this pandemic is for us to base ourselves on science and the recommendations of experts,” Trudeau says.

Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives raised concerns about the World Health Organization taking the word of China during the outbreak. Trudeau says it’s something they will reflect on going forward.

“The focus is what do we need to do now, how do we lean on experts in global institutions. There will be plenty of time to reflect on challenges that were faced in the past. We need to learn and move forward as quickly as we can,” Trudeau says.

US President Donald Trump has said he is going to halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) because it has “failed in its basic duty” in its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Canada’s long term care home outbreaks

Close to half of all deaths in Canada have been residents of long-term care homes.  “I can’t imagine what so many Canadians are going through with so many loved ones suffering,” Trudeau says. “These are the things that we need to focus on as a country. I’ll be speaking with premiers tomorrow night about how the federal government can support them and their jurisdiction over long term care homes and how to support the heroes working in extraordinarily difficult situations.”

More to come…