Feds extend CEWS, boost training initiatives

Government also promises to make long-term investment in Canada-wide early learning and childcare system

Feds extend CEWS, boost training initiatives
Working with the provinces and territories, the government says it will make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers.

The federal government is extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program until the summer of 2021 and significantly scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.

Both projects are part of the government’s campaign to create more than one million jobs and restore employment to previous levels.

“People losing their jobs is perhaps the clearest consequence of the global economic shock that Canadians – like those in other countries – have faced. The CERB helped people stay healthy at home while being able to keep food on the table. The CEWS helped people keep their jobs, or be rehired if they had been laid off. But there is still more to be done,” says the government in its speech from the throne.

The government says it will work with businesses and labour to ensure the CEWS meets the needs of the health and economic situation as it evolves. Scaling up youth investment, meanwhile, will provide more paid work experiences next year for young Canadians.

More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of Canadian business leaders believe the recently redesigned CEWS program is a good investment, according to a recent survey by KPMG Canada.

With the extension of the CEWS program until next summer, Unifor is urging the government to maintain the previous level of support of 75 per cent of wages up to a maximum of $847 per week while hard-hit entities with revenue declines of 70 per cent or greater should receive a 85 per cent maximum subsidy.

“Impediments such as including health premiums, pension contributions and other non-taxable benefits in the definition of eligible remuneration must also be removed.”

EI, women
With the economic restart now well underway, Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) recipients should instead be supported by the employment insurance (EI) system, says the government. For people who would not traditionally qualify for EI, the government is looking to create a transitional Canada Recovery Benefit.

Over the coming months, the EI system will become the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits. It will also cover Canadians who did not qualify for EI before the pandemic, says the government.

But more than two million Canadians will be worse off transitioning from CERB to EI, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The federal government has outlined measures that will help workers and their families to endure the immediate crisis and also fix systemic issues to help the country #BuildBackBetter from the pandemic," says Unifor national president Jerry Dias.

"Unifor has long advocated for many of these priorities including a commitment to job creation, increased training for workers, new infrastructure spending, and an overhaul of employment insurance to close gaps in the existing income security system."

The Canadian government will also create an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce and to ensure a “feminist, intersectional” response to this pandemic and recovery.

The government will also make a significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system in support of women.

“It has been nearly 50 years since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women outlined the necessity of child care services for women’s social and economic equality,” says the government. “We have long understood that Canada cannot succeed if half of the population is held back. Canadians need more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and high quality childcare.”

Working with the provinces and territories, the government will also make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. This will include:

  • supporting Canadians as they build new skills in growing sectors
  • helping workers receive education and accreditation
  • strengthening workers’ futures by connecting them to employers and good jobs, in order to grow and strengthen the middle class.

“From researchers developing vaccines, to entrepreneurs building online stores, this pandemic has reminded us of the power of the knowledge economy, and how vital it is for our future. Canadians are leading, and they should have government services that keep up.”


Latest stories