Back in March, the federal government launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), in order to help those whose income was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As some Canadians prepare to return to work next week, one premier is particularly worried about the benefits. In fact, he’s even contacted Trudeau to request changes to the CERB benefits.
Dennis King, Premier of P.E.I., got in touch with the Prime Minister this week to call for changes to the federal government’s CERB.
According to CBC News, the premier has concerns that the $2,000-per-month funding will discourage some workers from returning to work this summer, as they’re currently being paid to stay at home.
"As businesses come back on stream … there certainly is a fear out there that if people are being paid not to work, it's going to be difficult for those businesses to attract people they would normally be able to attract," explained King.
Instead, he’d like an updated benefit that focuses on “incentivizing people to get to work in the labour force.”
“For our economy to kick back into gear in any way, shape or form we're going to need an active labour force," the P.E.I. premier told Justin Trudeau this week.
Yesterday, we launched our plan for the first steps towards our 'new normal' - https://t.co/G5sqU3zFfT I am so pro… https://t.co/KfCYnN5pXH— Dennis King (@Dennis King)1588202669.0
In addition, King also urged Ottawa to consider changes to the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), which has been specifically supporting students during the pandemic.
Rather than pay students the $1,250 monthly benefit, the premier suggests funding positions for student employment instead.
"I don't think anyone wants to see people paid to stay home while we have vacancies for those who are trying to get their businesses off the ground in difficult circumstances," King explained.
If you stop working because of the #COVID19 pandemic, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Full… https://t.co/W703hz84Hy— Employment and Social Development Canada (@Employment and Social Development Canada)1586520078.0
King is not the only politician who has called for changes to Canada’s COVID-19 benefit programs.
Since the CERB was initially introduced, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has been pushing for changes to the funding, urging the government to make it available to all Canadians.
In a tweet earlier this month, Singh suggested that the CESB was unnecessarily “complicated,” and that the original CERB criteria should be scrapped altogether.
We’re glad the government is turning its focus to helping students, but another complicated system is not what stud… https://t.co/K1OAGv2psg— Jagmeet Singh (@Jagmeet Singh)1587568810.0
As a number of Canadian provinces prepare to start reopening their economies next week, including P.E.I., questions about continued eligibility for the CERB remain.
For those rehired in the coming weeks due to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the CERB will have to be paid back.
For those choosing not to work and refusing to return to work, the benefit may also have to be returned.
The prime minister has yet to publicly respond to either Premier King or Jagmeet Singh’s requests.