The prime minister has unveiled a new benefit to streamline aid for Canadians who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
Dubbed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the aid will replace earlier initiatives announced last week as part of a $82-billion funding package.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled the new benefit Wednesday (March 25) during his now-daily press conference on the steps of Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.
The aid will provide $2,000 per month, for four months, and applications should be available on April 6. The money will be paid out every four weeks and be available from March 15 until Oct. 3.
Around one million people have applied for EI in the past week due to the crisis. Trudeau said 143,000 of those applications have been processed and thousands of government employees have been redeployed to handle the influx.
Laid-off workers who have applied for EI due to coronavirus-related job losses will not need to reapply for this $2,000 benefit, which will be available for up to four months.
“Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB,” the government stated in a news release.
People who qualify for the money include workers who are sick, quarantined or have been laid off due to COVID-19; parents with sick family members, children or kids who must stay home because schools and daycares are closed; and who are contract workers or self-employed and losing work or closing up shop due to the virus. Trudeau said workers who still have jobs, but have seen their pay cut, will also qualify.
Canadians already on EI, whether regular or sickness benefits, will continue to receive that; if their benefits run out before Oct. 3 they can apply for the new benefit, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.
The prime minister promised that direct support will come for small businesses, on top of the extra credit he said has been made available.
Trudeau also reiterated his call for Canadians to stay inside and to practice social distancing if they must leave the house.
To those not listening to the new rules, he said: “You’re making a dangerous choice.”