CERB and CEWS programs extended
As many businesses and employees continue to adjust to the financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the government is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by eight weeks, to ensure Canadians have the help they need as they transition back to work. This extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks.
CERB is a taxable benefit of $2,000 over a four-week period for eligible workers who have stopped working or whose work hours have been reduced, due to COVID-19.
The benefit is available to workers who:
- live in Canada and are at least 15 years old;
- have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19, or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits, or have exhausted their EI regular or fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
- had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019, or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application;
- have not earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income per benefit period while collecting the CERB; and
- have not quit their job voluntarily.
In announcing the extension, the government stated that it expects those receiving the benefit should be actively seeking work opportunities or planning to return to work, provided they are able and it is reasonable to do so. As such, Canadians receiving the benefit are encouraged to consult Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service that offers tools to help with job searches.
The announcement follows several statements committing to an extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program, which will now extend to August 29.
Through the CEWS program, Canadian employers whose businesses have been affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for a subsidy of 75 per cent of employee wages for up to 24 weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020, to August 29, 2020.
Many were anticipating some program changes following the first phase of three four-week periods. A statement posted on the CEWS website yesterday explains that eligibility criteria has been extended to period 4 (the current period), with any potential changes commencing as of periods 5 (July 5 to August 1) and/or 6 (August 2 to August 29).
“We know that many Canadians across the country are still facing a really tough time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to take action to better support them,” stated Trudeau.
“The government will continue to ensure that its programs are working as intended; filling the gaps, supporting Canada’s most vulnerable and leaving no one behind,” added Bill Morneau, Canada’s Minister of Finance.