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Liberals Extend CERB, Plan To Offer Simplified EI System In Fall

The government has announced a $37-billion income-support plan.

OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are rolling out a $37-billion income-support plan for workers whose earnings have crashed during the pandemic.

The details released today outline what will happen to some four million workers receiving the $500-a-week Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is set to wind down starting next month.

The CERB will be extended another four weeks, and a new benefit that pays $400 a week for up to 26 weeks will replace it for those ineligible for employment insurance.

The employment insurance section of the Government of Canada website is shown on a laptop in Toronto on April 4, 2020.
The employment insurance section of the Government of Canada website is shown on a laptop in Toronto on April 4, 2020.

Anyone eligible for EI will get the same minimum for at least 26 weeks and will need to have worked 120 hours to qualify, well below current EI requirements, since many Canadians have been unable to work to the pandemic.

There will also be $500-a-week sickness benefit and caregiving benefit for anyone who has to stay home because they’re ill, or because school or daycare is closed.

The three new benefits are expected to cost $22 billion and will be brought in through legislation once the House of Commons returns after being prorogued this week.

The CERB extension is expected to cost a further $8 billion, and $7 billion more to the EI system, and can be done through powers that Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough already has to create temporary EI measures.

Government officials estimate about one million people will need the new workers’ benefit that replaces the CERB, and three million will go onto the simplified EI program.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 20, 2020.

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