During today’s national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government is currently looking to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments.
Whether or not the payment is extended, the government has said that an update regarding the extension will be announced later this week.
By the first week of July, many Canadians will have used up the 16 weeks of CERB aid and are expected to return to their jobs or have made arrangements for a new job. This is not the case for many Canadians however, as they struggle to find employment and a stable income is still present with the pandemic continuing.
This fact was addressed by Trudeau, and he has stated that he and the government are “working on a solution to extend the benefit for people who can’t return to work yet”.
“If you’re having trouble finding a job, you shouldn’t also be worrying about whether you’ll hit the limit of your CERB benefits,” Trudeau said.
“Whether it’s to cover the bills, to keep people on the payroll, or to make rent on a storefront, many Canadians need a hand right now”.
“For now, all I can say is that we will continue to be there to support Canadians,” said the Prime Minister.
The federal government has dispersed a total of $43.5 billion, as of June 4, to more than 8.4 million Canadians requesting the $2000 monthly CERB payment. With an extension to the benefit, an estimate of $17 billion would be sent out each month if the program remains as is.
Once the CERB program began, the federal government expected employees to slowly return to their employers as the pandemic progressed, but their expectations were not met. Millions of Canadians have not been contacted by their employers yet, and a majority of those employers have not signed up for the 75 percent wage subsidy offered by the federal government.
The promise for an update regarding the extension is due to NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh getting his caucus’ support for a key spending bill that will be voted on this Wednesday. That bill is committed to extending the CERB program.
“There needs to be an extension of CERB,” Singh said.
“It’s not acceptable for millions of Canadians to not know what’s going to happen. And we want to find a way forward, and we’re having negotiations about the fact that the government needs to release a plan on how they’re going to help Canadians in this crisis when there are no jobs to return to”.
In addition to the CERB extension announcement, Trudeau also announced the eligibility expansion of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).
First announced in March, the CEBA allowed business owners to access a $40,000 government-guaranteed loans that would assist their business in covering costs during the COVID-19.
Through the program, the loans would be interest-free for the first year, with an incentive of $10,000 of the loan forgiven for companies that can repay the balance of the loan by 2022.
The announcement for the CEBA expansion has confirmed that more businesses will be eligible for the loans, and an updated application will be available online starting this Friday.
According to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos, approximately 670,000 businesses have applied for the loans which have amounted to more than $26 billion in credit made available for businesses.
Trudeau has also announced that the applications for the surplus food program are now available.
The $50 million program that was first announced in May will have the government purchase and redistribute large amounts of surplus product for areas that have food insecurity as one of their issues for families.
The program also benefits food producers, as their unused harvest can be sent to the government, which also ensures compensation for these companies.
“No one could have predicted that this spring would turn out the way it did. Certainly, for farmers, who keep our grocery stores stocked and our families fed, it’s been an unexpectedly challenging few months… Farmers will have people to buy their goods, and food will get to the plates of families who wouldn’t have enough otherwise,” Trudeau said.
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