Starting on April 6th, Canadians can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday (April 1st).
This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Prime Minister shared this update and more during his daily press briefing at his home at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.
“The bottom line is this – we’re getting you the help you need, when you need it,” Trudeau told reporters.
Out-of-work Canadians can apply for the benefit on Canada.ca. The payment will be released within 3-5 days by direct deposit, Trudeau said. Mailing a cheque will take up to 10 days.
After applying, recipients will have to check in every month to say they’re still out of work, Trudeau said, and those who are already receiving EI won’t have to do anything because they’re already set up.
Earlier this week, on Monday, Ottawa announced that Canadian businesses whose revenue has dropped by 30 per cent or more due to COVID-19 will be eligible for a 75 per cent wage subsidy, regardless of the number of employees they have.
This announcement represented a significant increase to the initial 10 per cent wage subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses that was previously announced.
Trudeau clarified that if one is receiving a wage subsidy from an employer, he or she can’t collect from the CERB as well.
“You can’t get both benefits,” Trudeau said.
As for when the emergency wage subsidy program will be available, Trudeau said that “it will soon open through the CRA.”
Aimed at helping keep workers on the company payroll, the subsidy will be on the first $58,700 earned, meaning up to $847 a week per employee.
It's also being back-dated to March 15th.
"These are the biggest economic measures in our lifetime, to defeat a threat to our health," said Trudeau.
The Prime Minister added that he has asked members of his cabinet to reach out to opposition parties about bringing back Parliament to assist with the enhancements that are being made to Canada's COVID-19 aid programs.
"Staying home is your way to serve"
As of Wednesday morning, Canadian health officials reported at least 9,017 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, with 108 deaths.
When asked why Canada was still allowing citizens to return on international flights from other countries as COVID-19 cases increase, Trudeau said it was his government’s decision to bring Canadians home.
“We hope and are demanding that those Canadians who do [return] self-isolate for two weeks,” Trudeau said. “We’d much rather have people home than have them stranded around the world where things are getting worse.”
Trudeau couldn’t give a specific timeline on how long the COVID-19 situation would last in Canada.
He said measures could be in place for a number of weeks or even months - possibly until July.
"There are shorter scenarios," said Trudeau, noting that the government alone can't win the fight against COVID-19.
He said the onus is also on Canadians to follow the rules and measures as outlined by Canada’s Public Health Agency.
“Listening to public health rules is your duty. Staying home is your way to serve,” said Trudeau. “We — each of us — have to live up to our end of the bargain. We must fulfill our collective responsibility to each other."
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