The federal government is expanding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to include workers whose monthly income has been reduced to $1,000 or less, in response to concerns from gig economy workers who didn’t qualify for the original version of the benefit.
The benefit will also now apply to seasonal workers who won’t have work because of the coronavirus and people whose employment insurance ran out after Jan. 1, 2020.
The CERB, which provides $2,000 a month for up to four months, retroactive to March 15, applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and the self-employed — who wouldn’t qualify for EI — and to Canadians who are still employed but aren’t receiving income because of work disruptions. It was initially restricted to Canadians who had lost 100 per cent of their income and who could demonstrate they hadn’t worked for a two-week period.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the frustrations of gig workers, who have noted the benefit didn’t cover employees who had lost a significant portion of their income, but not all of it.
“Maybe you’re a volunteer firefighter or a contractor who can pick up some shifts or you have a part-time job in a grocery store,” he said in his daily press conference on Wednesday. “Even if you’re still working or you want to start working again, you probably need help in making ends meet.”
Find out more about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.