Small businesses worry workers could abuse CERB, recommend changes

Marco Green
June 16, 2020

Canada will extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) income support for the unemployed brought in to help people get through temporary job losses caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

The federal government is looking for a solution to extend the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments for those who can not find work by the end of the month.

"At the end of the day here, we're all very nervous, we're all very scared what could happen if there is a second wave and the amount of stress is insurmountable at the moment".

Currently, the CERB can be claimed for up to 16 weeks.

The government's initial intention was to gradually wean people off CERB and onto the federal wage subsidy program, which was rolled out with the promise of seeing millions of out-of-work Canadians be put back on their employer's payroll, though the number of companies applying to receive the 75 per cent subsidy has been less than anticipated. Early CERB recipients who have been given $2,000 every four weeks since mid-March will reach the end of their final payment period in less than three weeks.

For the NDP to support a massive government spending proposal, due in the House of Commons on Wednesday, the party's leader said an extension to the CERB is a must.

"CERB was created to keep people at home and get us through this initial wave of the pandemic", the prime minister said, adding he understands some jobs will not be coming back in the short term.

"There needs to be an extension of CERB", Singh told reporters Monday.

Muriel Protzer, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said members are concerned the program encourages people not to look for work.

In response to a question about whether the Liberals will need opposition support in Parliament to modify the benefit, Duclos said Canadians must still be patient because the announcement has not been made and legislative details are unclear.

And with many operating only at partial capacity, she said not all employees can return to their jobs given current restrictions, such as spacing.

"I think you can read between the lines", Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said in French during a COVID-19 briefing later Monday.

With files from Jolson Lim.

The CEBA initiative allows banks to offer $40,000 loans guaranteed by government to eligible businesses that come interest-free for the first year.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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