PBO to report on cost of revamped CERB as MPs meet to debate changes

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OTTAWA — Parliament’s spending watchdog will detail today the possible costs associated with extending and changing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Budget officer Yves Giroux’s report scheduled to be released this morning comes as the House of Commons is set to discuss proposed changes to the COVID-19 pandemic-related aid.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his government wants to rework how it doles out the 2,000-a-month benefit and get more people back to work, while also cracking down on fraud.

The most recent federal figures show 8.41 million people have applied for the CERB, with $43.51 billion in payments made as of June 4.

The figures surpassed anything the government originally expected, which is why the Finance Department recently updated its spending projections to put a $60-billion price tag on the measure, up from $35 billion.

Costs could go up if the government were to agree to extend benefits between the 16-week maximum, which the first cohort of recipients will hit early next month.