Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside of his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, on Sunday, April 5, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

At least 532,000 people applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on the day it opened, federal officials said Monday (April 6).

The benefit, which was brought in after the traditional EI system was overwhelmed, will provide $2,000 per month for Canadians who have lost their jobs or incomes due to COVID-19. At least two million people applied for EI in the past two weeks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said plans are coming for Canadians “working down to 10 hours a week or less,” for essential workers who make less than the $2,000 benefit amount and students. Those people are not currently eligible for the emergency benefit. B.C. has already unveiled a $3.5 million fund for students and topped up payments for seniors and people who get income and disability assistance.

While much of the discussion around essential workers making less than $2,000 a month has been around grocery store workers, Trudeau said there are many types of essential workers in that position.

“There are groups of people who aren’t benefitting.. who probably should,” he said.

“Perhaps people working in longterm care facilities in seniors residences or longterm care facilities.”

Social distancing measures, the prime minister said, will likely continue for a while.

“To stay at home, to continue this period of isolation and distance is the best way to get out as quickly as possible, but certainly it will be a case of several weeks, perhaps several months,” Trudeau said.

The current emergency benefit will pay out $500 per week for up to 16 weeks. Workers who have already applied for EI due to COVID-19 do not need to reapply, but can return to EI payments after the 16 weeks are up if they are still out of work.

People currently eligible for the benefit must be:

  • Residing in Canada and at least 15 years old
  • Have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
  • Had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • Are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.

The government is staggering application days for the program. Those born in January, February and March can apply Monday (April 6), while those born from April to June can apply on Tuesday, those born July to September can apply Wednesday and those born October to December can apply Thursday.

The application is here: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html.

Other government programs include a 75 per cent wage subsidy, open to all businesses who have seen a 30 per cent or greater revenue dip. Companies that apply for the subsidy could get up to $847 a week per employee.

Trump and the 3M masks

Trudeau was also questioned about personal protective equipment, including N95 masks made by American company 3M. The queries come after U.S. President Donald Trump told the company to halt shipments of the much-needed masks to Canada.

“We expect those supplies to be delivered,” Trudeau. He pointed out there are “primary resources flowing to American companies” that create these masks, but did not elaborate on what would happen if Trump did not walk balk the shipping ban.

The prime minister did acknowledged that some shipments of personal protective equipment contain less than what was ordered or have been delayed.

Trudeau said there are “constructive and positive” conversations coming with U.S. officials “who understand that essential services and supplies are very much a two way street between Canada and U.S.”

In a later press conference Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she’d spoken with 3M’s global CEO Mark Riman, who she commended for the company’s approach.

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils new $2,000 per month benefit to streamline COVID-19 aid

READ MORE: Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks

READ MORE: B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

READ MORE: B.C. adding $300 to monthly income and disability assistance payments


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