Part-time, contract and seasonal workers now qualify for COVID-19 emergency benefits, Essential Workers to get salary top-up

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in his daily COVID-19 update that eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has expanded allowing more Canadians to be eligible for the $2,000 a month benefit. 

As of today, April 15, 2020, workers who are earning less than $1,000 a month such as part-time workers, and or contract/gig workers are eligible for the CERB program. Seasonal workers and those who are running out of employment insurance will also qualify to apply to receive the CERB. 

“Maybe you’re a volunteer firefighter, or a contractor who can pick up some shifts, or you have a part-time job in a grocery store. Even if you’re still working, or you want to start working again, you probably need help making ends meet,” Prime Minister Trudeau said, reassuring Canadians that help is available. 

The newly expanded emergency benefit with more flexible rules for claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) addresses the gaps in the initial rules that critics have pointed out which excluded too many people, such as seasonal workers, people who have exhausted EI benefits, students, owner-operators and those working reduced hours.

The Prime Minister also reassured students, businesses, and other sectors that have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that further support is on the way and they can expect more announcements in the coming days. 

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Wages for Essential Workers to be boosted “as quickly as possible”

Also, in his address today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced he is working with the provinces and territories across Canada to boost wages to help support essential front-line staff. The collaborative effort between the federal and provincial governments will boost wages for essential workers who are making less than $2,500 per month as quickly as possible.

In acknowledgement and appreciation of their hard work, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that essential front-line workers in hospitals, seniors’ home, and long-term care facilities are doing “some of the toughest jobs in the country”. 

“For many workers looking after the most vulnerable Canadians, including seniors and those with disabilities, we know conditions have gotten more difficult over the past weeks. And you need support right now,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“As we face an unprecedented threat to public health, you are our most important line of defence. We will do whatever we can to help you do your job and support you through this.”

As of Monday, nearly six million people had applied for COVID-19 emergency benefits over the previous month. More than half of them – about 3.5 million – had applied for CERB since applications opened on April 6.

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