Economy

Liberals looking to extend COVID-19 benefits ahead of parliamentary showdown

Liberals looking to extend COVID-19 benefits ahead of parliamentary showdown”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is looking to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for people who are still unable to return to work.

He said more details will be available later this week, "People who continue to need support, we will be there".

The promise for an update on the extension by week's end comes as NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has hitched his caucus' support for an expected vote on a key spending bill on Wednesday contingent on a commitment to extend the program.

But the program as now structured only allows people to claim that support for 16 weeks.

The program was set to end the first week of July, however, 8.41 million Canadians are still on it as of June 4.

"We'll have more details this week, but for today, I want you to know that we'll continue to be there for you and your family".

The CERB-related elements were created to address concerns the benefit was discouraging people from returning to work.

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

Without the NDP support for the upcoming vote on the supplementary estimates-funding to tie overall regular federal departments until the fall and to beef up COVID-19 aid spending, totaling approximately $87 billion-the Liberals would have to rely on the Conservatives or Bloc Quebecois to vote onside or risk the chance of losing a confidence vote given their minority standing.

More news: Oscars Delayed Two Months, to Late April - Eligibility Period Extended Through February

President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos said the proposed CERB extension came about because economic circumstances over the past few weeks have changed.

"When Mr. Trudeau said we're going to be there for Canadians, it means something is going to be announced, but we want to do things properly, so it's not only a matter of extended or adjusting..."

"We're flexible with the response from the government, but we're firm on the fact that people need a concrete plan about how they will get help", he said.

"But even with the economy reopening we know there are many jobs that aren't going to be coming back in the short term and that's why we're looking at continuing to help people who are on the CERB who can't find a job".

Trudeau also encouraged employers to use the wage subsidy program.

The program covers 75% of the first $58,700 an employee earns.

Eligibility was recently expanded for the CEBA, he notes. The government has said it will forgive 25 per cent of such loans, up to $10,000, for those who pay their loans back on time. "We've said this from the very beginning", he said in French on Monday.

Meanwhile, Trudeau announced the opening of the federal government's Surplus Food Rescue Program.



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