Canada's federal government will be transitioning recipients of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to the Employment Insurance (EI) program as its $80-billion coronavirus aid program concludes this fall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday (July 31st).
The government will also create a “transitional, parallel benefit” that is similar to EI for workers who don’t qualify for the unemployment benefit, such as contract and gig workers.
"No one will be left behind," Trudeau promised.
The benefit is designed to help the millions of Canadian who will soon use up all of their emergency aid, and who don't have EI to turn to.
“It will include access to training, and being able to work more hours and earn more money while receiving the benefit,” Trudeau said. “EI should cover every Canadian who is looking for work, and for those who don’t qualify for EI right now, like gig or contract workers, we will create a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to Employment Insurance."
As of July 26th, there have been 8.46 million CERB applicants, and the feds have paid out $62.75 billion since it was launched in the early days of the pandemic.
More details will be revealed at a later date, said Trudeau.
Travel advisors are "cautiously optimistic"
The Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors, a group dedicated to independent and home-based travel agents that was fighting for an extension of the CERB, and is currently lobbying MPs to kickstart the travel industry, is "cautiously optimistic" over Friday's announcement.
"It is encouraging that what we have been fighting for since mid-June is progressing," the association, which is led by Judith Coates of The Travel Agent Next Door, Brenda Slater of Beyond the Beach, and Nancy Wilson of TravelOnly, told PAX in an emailed statement. "We are cautiously optimistic that Independent Advisors across the country will be well served by this announcement."
The association said they are "more than pleased" that the "voices of our members are being heard."
The grassroots group helps self-employed travel advisors arrange virtual Zoom meetings with their local MPs so that they can personally outline their unique business challenges and state why they need help amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are planning to continue our lobbying to be sure that the 10,000-14,000 independent advisors [in Canada] will not fall through the cracks during the transition," the group wrote. "EI currently requires its recipients to check in weekly in the search for work. In our specific situation, we would not be looking for other sources of income, but would be looking for future revenue from travel booked."
The association finds that when they talk to MPs, the politicians are "unaware of the extended timeline it can take for us to receive payment for revenue earned."
"Further to this, we would be curious to see what they have in mind," the group stated. "Ideally, we would like to have a part in this conversation."
This story was updated on July 31, 2020, at 5:18 p.m.
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