Laid-off Canadians play waiting game as they collect federal pandemic aid

Reported By: Kelsey Johnson and Moira Warburton, Reuters

OTTAWA/TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s unemployment rate jumped less than expected in April because some laid-off people collect federal aid and wait to return to their old jobs when the pandemic passes, while hiring has also ground to a standstill.

The 13% April jobless figure, released on Friday, is the highest since December 1982, when it reached 13.1%, but much lower than the 18% forecast by economists. The Canadian number was also better than the 14.7% reported in the United States on the same day.

In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government introduced the Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to provide income support for those forced to stay home amid the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic.

With this, the government has spent C$29 billion ($20.83 billion) to provide almost 7.8 million Canadians C$2,000 per month, official data shows.

Canada’s federal aid “is a key factor in why the Canadian unemployment rate is so markedly below the U.S, even though we were shut down every little bit as tight, if not tighter,” said Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

The unemployment figure only captures those people who are actively looking for jobs. In April some 1.1 million Canadians were counted as temporarily unemployed but not looking for work. If they had been counted, Statscan said, the unemployment rate would have risen to 17.8%.

Canada’s labor market participation rate, which measures the number of people employed and those seeking work, fell to 59.8% in April – the lowest in the data series, which began in January 1976.

Cassandra Sirois, 25, is an actor, filmmaker and bartender who hasn’t worked since March 7. Instead of applying for jobs, she chose to focus on her artistic projects while she collects the CERB because she was concerned she would catch COVID-19 if she worked.

“The first two weeks, I had a few panic attacks… I have no financial stability,” Sirois said. “I was struggling with, ‘Well, why do I have to put myself at risk because I can’t do my jobs?'”

She added the federal support allayed her financial fears.

Heather Dabrowski, 35, is an educator for the Canadian Ecology Centre, an outdoor education facility in northern Ontario.

Now that Dabrowski knows she won’t return to work soon, she considered applying for a job but decided against it as she collects federal support. She spends her days sewing masks and gardening with her mother.

“I can’t really justify looking for employment when in a month my work may be able to call me back,” Dabrowski said. “That’s the trickiest thing right now, the waiting.”

(Reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Moira Warburton in Toronto; editing by Steve Scherer and Franklin Paul)

Featured Image Credits:  FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a “Help wanted” sign at a retail store in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie/File Photo

This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt


Bài Liên Quan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces boost to emergency financial assistance as COVID-19 pandemic wages on

Earlier today during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s morning address on March 25, 2020, he announced that the federal government will be merging...

Taste of the World – McFarland House at Niagara Falls

The McFarland House one of Niagara Park's oldest properties, built in 1800 by John McFarland and his sons, it even pre-dates...

Schools face daunting, unique reopening challenges during pandemic

As Canada begins grappling with the issue of recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of how...

Bank of Canada Holds Rates Steady at 0.25% Even As It Expects Economy to Shrink Until March

Eight times a year, Canada's central bank meets to set its benchmark interest rate, known as the target for the overnight rate,...

30,000 ventilators to be made in Canada, CERB to expand eligibility to allow for students and contract workers, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government is continuing to work with Canadian manufacturers to produce ventilators and...

Even with New COVID-19 Vaccine Approvals, Rollout Won’t Increase Before April

Even with the two new COVID-19 vaccines under regulatory scrutiny, Canada's vaccine supply is unlikely to increase before April.

Studying in Canada

Should you study at a university or a college? Which one is better for getting a job?What major will bring more opportunities...

This content is also available in: Tiếng Việt