#Canada; #New$37BReformPackage; #EI; #Covid19;
Ottawa, Aug 20 (Canadian-Media): Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, in her first announcement as Canada’s finance minister alongside Canada's Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough unveiled the new $37 billion aid package during a news conference in Ottawa Aug 20 to help Canadians through the transition as the economy gradually reopens.
Chrystia Freeland. Image credit: Twitter handle
Details of the new plan released Thursday reveal how most people will be transitioned onto EI, would cost at least $37 billion over the next year.
"By supporting Canadians who are out of work because of the pandemic, we are making it possible for our country to continue to practise social distancing and to do the right things in the fight against the coronavirus,” Freeland said during the news conference. “As we shift from our initial emergency response to a safe and prudent restart, as we shift to living with COVID-19, our approach also needs to evolve.”
Measures include, federal government's extension of Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) by one more month, overhauling the employment insurance (EI) program to facilitate more people to be financial assisted during COVID-19, EI requiring greater flexibility on the work hours, making it easier for people to qualify for a one-year period.
More than $69 billion have already been paid by CERB to more than 8.6 million recipients.
CERB, which pays people $2,000 a month will now be in place until Sept. 27, extending the program from six months to 28 weeks.
After the culmination of CERB, Canadians who were already eligible for EI will transition to that program, while others can apply for new "recovery" benefits.
Self-employed eligible to apply for a benefit of up to $400 a week for up to 26 weeks if they have stopped working or had reduced incomes due to COVID-19.
The new rule allows them to continue to earn money, but will be required to repay 50 cents of every dollar earned above $38,000.
The second new benefit would allow any Canadian worker who falls ill or has to self-isolate due to COVID-19 to receive 10 days of paid sick amounting to $500 a week but the claimant can't claim this benefit and another sick leave payment at the same time.
The agreement negotiated with the provinces and territories necessitated the restart the national economy safely.
A third benefit will support Canadians who must stay home to care for a child under 12 or another dependent because their school, daycare or other day program facility is shut down due to COVID.
“We recognize that there continues to be an ongoing public health crisis in our country, and we need to prepare...Not all regions across the country or sectors are reopening at the same time,” said Qualtrough, who took the lead on developing this new plan and added,
"We're doing our very best to support all Canadian workers and leave no one behind."
But this program will not be applicable to the people who choose to keep their kids home even though the facility is open, unless they provide proof of a medical reason such as an immunodeficiency disorder.
The payment of the three new recovery benefits, which will be and expected to cost $22 billion.
Added to this is $8 billion cost of the extension of CERB, and $7 billion EI costs would bring total of $37 billion.
New recovery benefits applications are scheduled to open in October, with payments flowing in three to five days.
But the recovery benefits are subject to the approval of the parliament, which is currently prorogued until Sept. 23, when the House of Commons will begin a new session with a speech from the throne crafted by the Liberal government.