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Justin Trudeau

Ottawa will expand income support for low-income workers, students, people whose hours were cut

Monday, April 06, 2020 @ 3:01 PM | By Cristin Schmitz

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is working on expanding who is eligible for its Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) $2,000-per-month income support in order to help more low-income and part-time workers, students and people whose hours were substantially cut in the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although millions of Canadians are presently eligible for the $2,000-per-month income support announced by Trudeau last month — and started applying by the hundreds of thousands on April 6 — there are still gaps in the CERB that the Liberal government intends to fill “in the coming days,” Trudeau said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“There are some people who don’t yet qualify, who we do need to help,” he emphasized. “We recognize that there are groups of people who aren’t benefiting from the CERB who probably should.”

“If you’re working reduced hours — down to 10 hours a week or less — we will soon announce how you will be able to qualify for CERB,” Trudeau revealed. “This is to help you if you are a gig worker, a contract worker or a volunteer firefighter,” he said, by way of example.

Trudeau disclosed “we’ll also have more to say for those who are working, but making less than they would with the [$2,000 monthly CERB]. I’m thinking, in particular, of homecare workers, or long-term care workers, looking after vulnerable seniors.”

The prime minister said the CERB’s eligibility requirements will be broadened to encompass a third group of workers: those university and college students who don’t yet qualify, and who are facing a dearth of summer jobs given the COVID-19-induced shutdown of non-essential businesses, such as bars and restaurants. “You need support now, and work is underway to get it to you as soon as possible,” he assured students.

“For people in all of these situations we see you,” Trudeau advised. “We’re going to be there for you, and we’re working as hard as we can to get you the support you need.”

The government notes that many students are already eligible now for the CERB benefits if they earned a minimum of $5,000 in the last 12 months, or in 2019, from employment, self-employment, or provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave.

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