More people are entitled to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) after the federal government announced an expansion of the program’s terms on Wednesday.
One of several economic measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, CERB offers workers $2,000 every four weeks for up to four months if they lost their income because of the pandemic.
The benefit was expanded on Wednesday to include people who earn less than $1,000 a month while collecting CERB, seasonal workers who have used up their EI benefits and are unable to continue that work because of the pandemic, and workers whose EI benefits have run out and who are unable to find work because of coronavirus. Contract workers and the self-employed may also qualify.
Essential services workers earning less than $2,500 a month will be included in the new expanded benefit as well.
“This will provide a much needed boost to those on the front-line in hospitals, those caring for seniors in long-term care facilities, those working so hard to make sure that there that is food on our shelves and tables, and others,” the federal Department of Finance said in a news release.
To qualify for CERB, applicants must live in Canada and be at least 15 years of age, have stopped working because of the pandemic or are eligible for EI or sickness benefits, have not voluntarily quit their job and have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months before they applied.
Speaking to NNSL Media, Tim Syer, president of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce said his organization supports the expanded benefit.
“A lot of our membership is small businesses and people based out of their homes. These (benefits) are needed to help businesses keep their lights on,” he said.
“It shows that the federal government is willing to take these programs in a phased approach and be responsive to the needs of individuals and businesses. They saw there were people slipping through the cracks with some of these programs and they’re finding ways to help them. We hope that they the same approach with businesses.”