Millions of people lost their jobs due to the shut down of the economy to help flatten the curve of COVID-19. Luckily, the Federal Government announced a program to help people in financial need due to the loss of their job. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was implemented to get money to impacted Canadians faster than the process of Employment Insurance (EI) could. The EI system wasn’t able to handle the number of new applicants as millions were laid off early on in the pandemic.
As Canada moves forward, out of the emergency phase and into the recovery phase, so will financial aid programs. Millions of people still claiming CERB will be transitioned onto the federal EI program starting in September. More details about the transition will come before the end of August with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying “no one will be left behind.”
Employment Minister, Carla Qualtrough said the EI system is ready to accept the transitions and no disruptions to benefits will occur. Many Canadians are still out of work and that’s why the federal government is focusing on making the transition as smooth as possible.
Over 8 million people have applied for CERB and the government has paid out almost $63 billion since the program was launched. “We believe that the CERB has served its purpose, and the reason it was created is no longer the main focus of our efforts as a government,” said Qualtrough, adding that the government will be moving to a system where it will be more closely checking to make sure people are looking for jobs. One criticism of the CERB program was that many people were being paid more than what they were making at their jobs disincentivizing them from returning to work.
Trudeau said, “EI should cover every Canadian who is looking for work, and for those who don’t qualify for EI right now, like gig or contract workers, we will create a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to Employment Insurance.” Going forward recipients will be able to work more hours and earn more money while still receiving the benefit, with the updated EI system making allowances for more eligibility flexibility and relaxing the number of hours needed to qualify.
In a fiscal snapshot earlier this month, the federal government projected that unemployment rates will remain high for the next year.