The Government of Canada has extended the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which supports people that are out of work due to COVID-19, by eight weeks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the extension on Tuesday after hinting at plans to do so on Monday. The CERB, which was set to end in July, offers financial support to people who have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19. Eligible individuals can receive $2,000 for a four week period.
By the first week of July Canadians were set to come to the end of their 16-week eligibility period to claim CERB, with many organizations calling on the federal government to extend the program. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh had also called on the Liberal government to extend the CERB in order to get the NDP’s support on a confidence vote that is taking place in Parliament on Wednesday.
Trudeau said on Tuesday that the idea behind extending the CERB is to support Canadians that are unable to find work even as the economy starts to re-open. He acknowledged that while economic recovery is coming “it won’t be fast enough.” The prime, again, encouraged individuals and businesses to take advantage of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) as businesses begin to operate more normally.
While the CERB was a popular program, the CEWS has not seen the uptake the government had hoped. Over the past couple of weeks, the federal government has been urging employers to take advantage of the subsidy program. Many startups in the Canadian tech sector, however, have continually pointed to CEWS criteria as a barrier to taking advantage of the program. A recent survey of hundreds of Canadian tech leaders found 72 percent said remain ineligible for the wage subsidy.
The vote taking place in Parliament on Wednesday is set to include expansion of the CEWS. The CEWS, itself, has already been extended to August in hopes that more business would use the subsidy. Trudeau had also previously promised to assess the 30 percent revenue criteria and over the past month, the federal government conducted a consultation on how to improve the wage subsidy program.