As many of you know, Parliament has now passed Bill C-13, the emergency legislation that provides support for Canadians affected by COVID-19. Despite some delays and challenges, we were able to reach a consensus to be able to help those in need.
The program that was announced as a result of C-13 is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Initially, the Prime Minister had announced two different COVID-19 assistance programs but it became evident that despite their best intentions, the government was creating gaps that would result in Canadians not getting the help they needed at a critical time.
As a result, the CERB has been created to eliminate those gaps. The CERB is a taxable benefit that can provide $2000 a month, for up to four months, to workers who lose their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is intended to cover citizens who have “lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.”
The CERB applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). It will also apply to “workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19.” The details of how exactly that will work in practice are as yet undefined.
Once the online application portal is open through a ‘My CRA’ or ‘My Service CANADA’ account, and a yet to determined toll free number, the intent is that eligible applicants would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application.
A CERB payment would be made to applicants every four weeks.
While I commend the government on recognizing that their original plan was not going to cut it, the challenge now is to ensure that the CERB will be delivered to Canadians in need in a timely manner. With 4 million Canadians expected to apply for assistance, and with layoffs occurring daily, the Prime Minister must ensure that the system has the capacity to deliver these much needed services to struggling Canadians.
If you know someone who is falling through the cracks and needs help, please contact my office at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at 1-306-634-3000.
For more information on the CERB, please visit https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/introduces-canada-emergency-response-benefit-to-help-workers-and-businesses.html