End of COVID-19 benefits won’t ease Canada’s labour crunch, says economist

End of COVID-19 benefits won't ease Canada's labour crunch, says economist
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It’s bad news for the 800,000 Canadians still relying on the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). As of Sunday, the CRB is gone and Canadians will only be eligible for support if their work is impacted by a public health lockdown.

“We are moving from the very broad-based support that was appropriate at the height of our lockdowns to more targeted measures that will provide help where it is needed,” said Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.

In CRB’s place, the new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit goes into effect Sunday, providing $300 a week to workers who are subject to a lockdown.

Freeland says the economy is rebounding as vaccination numbers climb, but also acknowledged that economic recovery is uneven with health measures in some areas continuing to restrict economic activity.

Something B.C.’s Premier also echoed.

“I think the federal government has looked across the piece and seen that most of the economy, certainly here in British Columbia is back to where it was or beyond, say expect for the tourism industry,” said B.C. Premier John Horgan.

Although ‘help wanted’ signs litter downtown Victoria storefronts, data shows that all the jobs lost at the start of the pandemic have been gained back.

The problem is, compared to February 2020, more Canadians are working fewer hours, and the number of long-term unemployed residents has also jumped.

And at least one economist says cutting off support for individuals, isn’t the answer.

“Frankly I don’t see the need to do this. I think this is more to do about politics,” said economist Jim Stanford. “There’s still a pandemic out there in case no one has noticed.”

Stanford says business lobbyists have been unfairly blaming government supports for their inability to rehire as things open up.

“The idea that somehow workers are to blame because they’re not interested in work. Or the government is to blame because they’ve been too supportive of workers is utterly disproved by the facts. More Canadians are working now than before the pandemic. Employers who are having a hard time finding staff have to look at themselves in the mirror and say ‘what do I have to do?'” said Stanford.

“It’s not that Canadians are sitting at home, it’s that employers are not offering something appealing enough to get them to work for them.”

Stanford says employers may have to increase their offer: like better wages, hours, benefits, and training opportunities to finding the workers they need.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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