March 25, 2020
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Conservative Members of Parliament have been focused on Canadians and getting them the support they desperately need. We recognize that these are unprecedented times and that urgent action is needed. Almost a million Canadians have already been laid off, stores and restaurants have been told to close their doors, and Canadians have been told to stay at home. We also know that this crisis has hit our economy hard and that the months to come will be difficult.
That is why we have been flexible in our approach, while also continuing to ensure government oversight.
When we agreed to the extraordinary suspension of Parliament, we insisted that the government be subject to substantial accountability measures including that the Auditor General would audit any new spending, that parliamentary committees would be able to review all of that spending when Parliament resumes, that parliamentary committees could be recalled at any time, and that the government must immediately inform the Opposition of any spending and make it public within seven days.
We also agreed to bring back the House of Commons this week with only a small number of Members present.
Early this morning, the House of Commons passed Bill C-13: An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19 after our Conservative team secured significant concessions from the government. The Senate also passed the legislation this afternoon. It is now the law of the land.
The legislation is available online here:
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the legislation establishes the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months to workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the government, the CERB will be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.
The CERB will cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. It will apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, will also qualify for the CERB. This will help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.
The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, will be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.
Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today will continue to receive their benefits and
apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they can apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed will not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits will still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible.
The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April
. EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI
, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.
Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.