'These recovery benefits fill gaps in the way Canadians qualify for income support'
The federal government has introduced Bill C-2 to create three new temporary recovery benefits programs to support Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.
With the bill, the government is upgrading the proposed Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, up from $400 per week when the government first announced the program.
This benefit would support workers who are self-employed or not eligible for employment insurance (EI) and who still require income support. It would also benefit those who have not returned to work due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50 per cent. These workers must be available and looking for work, and must accept work where it is reasonable to do so.
The other two benefits are the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), which would provide $500 per week for up to two weeks, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), which would give $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household.
“Together, these recovery benefits fill gaps in the way Canadians qualify for income support, ensuring access to all Canadians who are unable to work due to COVID-19 so that no one is left behind,” says Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion. “If you cannot work, and still don't qualify for the simplified EI, there is support available to you, tailored to your specific needs."
Canadians will be able to apply for the CRB, CRSB, and CRCB through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for one year up until Sept. 25, 2021.
Non-profit group UBI Works called for more permanent measures in a tweet:
“The Canada Recovery Benefit, now the same level as CERB, that lets you keep part of it when you begin working, effectively makes it a short-term guaranteed minimum income for workers,” the group says in a tweet. “Now we need to make it into an unconditional, permanent basic income.”
Since March 2020, the government has received almost nine million unique CERB applications. It is anticipated that about 2.8 million clients will transition to EI regular benefits following the transition from CERB.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) previously stated that more than two million Canadians will be worse off following the transition.
Bill C-2 also proposed amendments to the Canada Labour Code to give federally regulated employees access to job-protected leave to ensure they can avail themselves of the benefits.
Recently, the federal government also announced it is extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program until the summer of 2021 and significantly scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.
The federal government also announced it is investing an additional $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements with provinces and territories to offer Canadians the skills training and employment supports they need.
“This support will respond to the increased number of Canadians looking to re-enter the workforce, and targets workers and employers in sectors hardest-hit by COVID-19, as well as groups particularly disadvantaged as a result of the pandemic.”
This is in addition to the $3.4 billion already being provided to provinces and territories under the Labour Market Development Agreements and Workforce Development Agreements in 2020-21.