More help and measures on the way for youth, new criteria to help small businesses qualify, surge of CERB applications says PM Trudeau

As Canada enters its third week of increased health and safety measures, which included closures of non-essential businesses, recommendations of physical distancing, and closures of the Canadian borders, it is becoming clear that many Canadians will be financially affected from the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Over the past couple of weeks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government announced various financial aid benefits available to Canadians as they are asked to stay at home to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. 

In response to criticisms that the benefit programs, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), excluded many businesses and individuals, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “We recognize we are not aiming for perfection,”.He then stated that the government’s goal was to deliver programs that would help a large number of people as quickly as possible. 

In doing so, he recognized that there would be gaps and shortfalls in the financial benefit packages and that further fine-tuning will be needed to include those who did not initially qualify for the program. 

“We want to make these measures as effective and inclusive as we can,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “So we’re listening and making adjustments along the way.”

Changes are coming to the Canada Summer Jobs Program

During his daily address on Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that changes are on the way for the Canada Summer Jobs program to help support young people get work in sectors that aren’t shut down due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Canada Summer Jobs program is part of an initiative of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy which aims to provide valuable services to young Canadians so that they can develop skills and gain paid work experience and transition into Canada’s labour market.

Changes that were announced for the program included a boost to wage subsidy up to 100 per cent, an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021, and the inclusion of part-time jobs.

New Criteria to help Small Businesses Qualify for Wage Subsidy Programs

Under the newly proposed criteria announced by the Prime Minister today, businesses can use the months of January and February of 2020 as comparison months to measure revenue drop. Previously it was required that businesses used financial information from the last year (2019) to measure drop in revenue. The new criteria is said to help new or scaled-up businesses qualify for the wage subsidy program. 

Another proposed adjustment to the program will allow businesses that experiences a revenue decrease of 15 per cent due to COVID-19 become eligible for the wage subsidy program. This will allow many more businesses that were forced to shut down become eligible for the program. 

Regarding a timeline of when businesses can expect to receive the wage subsidy program, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that his government aims to have the program implemented in three week’s time. 

Surge of CERB Applications

As of today, it has been reported that 1.72 million Canadians have applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) since it began accepting applications on Monday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his daily address to Canadians that more adjustments will be coming to include more people such as gig workers, contractors, volunteer firefighters, and those who work 10 or fewer hours per week. 

He also promised that support will be coming for those who are able to work but are making less than they would be able to through CERB, such as home care workers or people caring for vulnerable seniors in long-term care. 

“You need support now, and work is underway to get it to you as soon as possible,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“For people in all of these situations, we see you, we’re going to be there for you and we’re working as hard as we can to get you the support you need.”

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