OTTAWA — Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says the newly created benefit for workers affected by COVID-19 may be a model for how the federal government helps unemployed Canadians in the future.
Dubbed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the $2,000-a-month taxable benefit will be available to any worker who earned $5,000 in the previous year and whose income drops to zero due to COVID-19.
Qualtrough says the government opted for the single benefit because the decades-old employment insurance system wasn’t designed to handle an economic shock where millions of workers wouldn’t qualify for assistance.
In an interview, Qualtrough says close to 10 per cent of EI-eligible workers have applied for help in just over a week and the labour crunch is likely to get worse.
She says the government is urging any worker eligible for EI who loses their job due to COVID-19 to apply now for help.
And for those who don’t qualify, Qualtrough says they should sign up for an online account through the Canada Revenue Agency to prepare for the new benefit being made available next month.