Canada will move to top up the pay of essential workers making less than $2,500 per month and expand emergency benefits to workers still making some income.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement during his daily address from Rideau Cottage on Wednesday (April 15).
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit currently provides $2,000 per month to workers who have lost their jobs. The changes announced by Trudeau Wednesday would expand that benefit to people making up to $1,000 per month and allow people whose EI has run out in 2020, as well as seasonable workers who are unable to find jobs this year. At least six million people have applied for either EI or CERB so far.
Essential workers include anyone from grocery store clerks to care home aides.
“The very places that care for our elderly are the most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Trudeau said.
“We all need to do better.”
At a later press conference, Treasure Board president Jean-Yves Duclos said people newly eligible for CERB will get it retroactively from March 15.
Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said it was “premature to estimate” the cost of expanded CERB, as the government hopes the wage subsidy will get many back to work and off the emergency benefit.
As of Wednesday morning, COVID-19 had led to 27,540 cases and 954 deaths in Canada.