Coronavirus: Trudeau announces plans for end of CERB, transition to EI

The federal government plans to transition recipients of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to the Employment Insurance (EI) program as the coronavirus aid program wraps up this fall, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Ottawa will also create a “transitional, parallel benefit” that is similar to EI for people who don’t qualify for the unemployment benefit, such as contract and gig workers.

“It will include access to training, and being able to work more hours and earn more money while receiving the benefit,” Trudeau said.

“We intend to cover every Canadian who is looking for work with a better, 21st-century EI system.”

Read more: CERB, CESB applicants report weeks-long payment delays as CRA rolls out anti-fraud checks

The last scheduled CERB pay period is currently set to end on Sept. 26. The personal income benefit provides $2,000 per month to eligible applicants who lost work or their jobs due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister pledged that EI premiums won’t be increased “during this challenging time.”

1:47 Some question whether CERB payments offer disincentive to work

Some question whether CERB payments offer disincentive to work

Trudeau said more details about “what will come after the CERB” will be released in the following weeks. He added that the government will also make a “sickness and caregivers benefit” for individuals who contract the virus — or have a family member who did — and don’t have coverage through their job.

Read more: One quarter of Canada’s small businesses report staff refusing to return to work, survey suggests

The prime minister also announced that Ottawa is extending the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for the month of August.

More than 700,000 employees have benefited from that COVID-19 program, Trudeau said.

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