Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will expand to help more Canadians, such as those who are earning some income, seasonal workers and those who have EI running out, as they face continued economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Trudeau said that the government will be relaxing criteria for CERB to allow more Canadians to benefit from the program.
Individuals earning $1,000 or less a month, such as freelancers, can now apply to the benefit program.
“We know that many people do not work as many hours as before and must adjust to the reality of contract and gig work,” Trudeau said.
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Also for individuals who have lost or been running out of money from EI since applying on January 1, can now apply for CERB.
In addition, those who would rely on seasonal work, but can no longer find employment because of the pandemic will have access to the emergency benefit.
Trudeau also announced that on Thursday, he will discuss with provincial leaders, topping up the pay for essential workers who makes less than $2,500 a month.
As coronavirus cases and deaths increase in long-term care homes, the prime minister noted that workers in these facilities need extra support.
“The truth is tragic and worrisome. Where we look after our seniors are particularly vulnerable.” Trudeau said.
“We need to boost wages for essential workers. We know conditions have gotten more difficult in these facilities over the past weeks and they need the support right now.”
The prime minister said that after he talks with provincial and territory leaders on Thursday, they will ensure the wage boost is in place as quickly as possible.
Testing in the country was also addressed, as the New Brunswick company, LuminUltra, has delivered test chemicals to meet the weekly demand in all provinces.
Trudeau added that a new batch of swabs has also been delivered, “so every province has the supplies needed to do proper testing.”
Canada will also be meeting with G7 leaders on Thursday night, in order to have “a strong and effective global response to this pandemic.”
Lastly, he emphasized that the government cannot give a specific date on when the pandemic will be over, or when life can go “back to normal.”
But for now, people must “stay at home” as it will be “weeks more” before restrictions are lifted.