By Vicky Qiao—
Ottawa is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by eight weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday.
Although many Canadians are returning to work, the government is aware that support is still needed for those unable to get jobs, he said. Canadians will now be able to receive the monthly $2000 after the initial 16-week period.
“Our goal here is to make sure that the CERB is working for you in the best way possible,” said Trudeau. “We’re going to make sure that all of our supports, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Employment Insurance, are working effectively to get Canadians back on their feet.”
The hope is that more and more Canadians will drop from the program as the economy and businesses reopen, said Trudeau. The estimated cost of the two-month CERB extension is yet to be determined.
Some Canadians are concerned with Tuesday’s announcement.
Negeen Naderi, an incoming law student and a resident of Markham, said there’s no need for CERB as the stay-at-home order has shifted to social distancing-based measures. The extension could cause people to grow dependent on the benefit rather than looking for jobs, she said.
“Canada’s economy is not a strong economy. We’re going to have a hard time recovering from all the damage done already,” said Naderi. “Some just want to have enough money for food and rent and CERB is enough, so why bother.”
But freelance journalist Krystyna Lagowski said this safety net should be extended to a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) for all Canadians.
“We have learned to live with the ups and downs of our work-life style—it’s a compromise we’re willing to make in return for the flexibility it affords us,” said Lagowski. “It would be nice to have this to fall back on, going forward.”
At Tuesday’s briefing, Trudeau also said that the pandemic has highlighted the challenges faced by Black communities in Canada, and the government will be “moving forward on a huge range of measures” and “looking at bold ideas.”
However, he did not give any specifics when a reporter sought clarity on Ottawa’s response to the list of demands from the Parliamentary Black Caucus, a group of Black MPs and senators.
Another reporter asked about migrant worker safety, as two Mexican workers have passed away in Windsor, Ont. after contracting COVID-19; an estimated 300 workers have been infected with the virus; and the ambassador from Mexico stopped sending migrant workers to Canada on June 15.
Trudeau said Canada relies on temporary foreign workers, and the government will look into measures to ensure their safety, potentially granting citizenship status.