Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Monday that the federal government is looking to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
During a routine press conference in Ottawa, Trudeau said that the government was currently working on a plan that would issue payments beyond the original 16-week period.
“If you’re having trouble finding a job, you shouldn’t also be worried about hitting the limit on your CERB benefits,” said the prime minister outside of Rideau Cottage.
When applications first opened, the benefit was made available from March 15, with the aid maxing out at 16 weeks. This means anyone who has been receiving the benefit since the start of the pandemic will be reaching their limit by July 15.
Trudeau said that with many Canadians still struggling amid COVID-19, an extension would help “people who can’t return to work yet.”
Trudeau hopes that more details will be available later this week.
“For today, I want you to know that we will continue to be there for you and your family,” Trudeau said.
Last week, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called on Trudeau to extend the emergency benefit for people in need, while also strongly opposing the idea of fines or jail time for those who applied for the CERB and didn’t need it.
Trudeau and the Liberals tried to pass a bill last week that would punish any “fraudsters” who took advantage of the government aid, but it got rejected in the House of Commons.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit has been providing $2000 for a four-week period – equivalent to $500 per week – to those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although Trudeau suggested that a plan is in the works, nothing was guaranteed by the prime minister on Monday in regard to a CERB extension.
Along with announcing the idea of an extension, Trudeau continued to encourage businesses to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, if they haven’t already. Trudeau also reminded employers that the Canada Emergency Business Account has recently expanded its eligibility requirements and will be accepting new applications starting this Friday, June 19. More information will be available on this matter in the coming days.
In addition to the information on government aid programs revealed on Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the application portal for the Surplus Food Rescue Program was opening Monday.
This program will allow the Canadian government to purchase large quantities of certain products that are at risk of going waste. Those purchased products will then be redistributed to organizations addressing food insecurity.
“Farmers work hard to raise their livestock and grow their crops. They shouldn’t be in the position where they have to see that wasted,” said Trudeau.
Trudeau said that the government will purchase potato, poultry, seafood or other products that farmers and fishers can’t sell and redistribute them to communities that need help.
“This is a win-win,” said Trudeau. “Farmers will have people to buy their goods and food will get to the plates of families who wouldn’t have enough otherwise.”
The food will be redistributed all across Canada, including remote Northern communities, said Trudeau.