Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the federal government will extend the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), for how long and with what conditions hasn’t been announced The CERB is due to run out soon for people who have been on the benefit since it was first launched in April, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.People can only claim the benefit for 16 weeks — four eligibility periods — and the end of the program’s fourth eligibility period is early July.
“We’re working on a solution to extend the benefit for people who can’t return to work yet,” Trudeau said. “We’ll have more details this week, but for today, I want you to know that we’ll continue to be there for you and your family.”
Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said there will be “new parameters” to the program when the extension is formally announced.
The government was disappointed that while eight million Canadians applied for CERB the uptake on the wage subsidy program for employers was not what was expected.
The government cut its projected budget for the wage subsidy for the 12-week period between April and June from $73 billion to $45 billion. As of June 8, the program has paid out only $10.5 billion in wage subsidies. “To all employers — please use the wage subsidy if you haven’t already. This help is designed for you and your employees,” Trudeau said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has made extending CERB eligibility a condition of his party’s support for a key piece of fiscal legislation that is set to be tabled in the House of Commons this week.
Trudeau also announced that the government will start accepting new applications for the Canada emergency business account (CEBA) starting Friday. The government has expanded program eligibility to include farmers. The program offers government-backed loans of up to $40,000, interest-free until the end of 2022, administered by banks. The government has said it will forgive 25 per cent of such loans, up to $10,000, for those who pay their loans back on time.