The federal government announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on Wednesday to support people who’ve been impacted by COVID-19. At $2,000 for a month ($500 per week), this income support replaces the previously announced programs. Applications will be available in early April (money should start arriving within 2 weeks of applying).
In response to community pressure, the Trudeau government has committed to making CERB available to workers who wouldn’t qualify for Employment Insurance as well as to residents (not just citizens). These are all steps in the right direction! Unfortunately, critical improvements are still needed to make sure everyone can access this minimum income support, which is why we need to raise our voices!
Federal ministers (who make up the cabinet) are currently deciding who will be eligible for this $500 weekly income support. Please take a moment right now, to call them: we need to make sure that everyone has access to this much-needed income support, regardless of their past employment or immigration status. (Click here to call them.)
Right now, workers who receive Employment Insurance (EI), only receive 55% of their previous income, which is not nearly enough on low wages or part-time hours. The federal government can easily solve this inequality by raising EI benefits to at least $500 per week—the same amount as CERB. All workers deserve income supports to survive on, to get us through this emergency.
Similarly, the government should not put up barriers for workers to access CERB. The current requirement to prove earnings of at least $5,000 in the last year is harmful and will exclude newcomers. It’s also hard to prove your earnings when circumstances have forced you to work for cash, or when unfair immigration laws have left you without status. Having to be out of work for 14 days before you can apply is also brutal for workers in the most precarious jobs, and so is the waiting period before funds arrive.
Please take a moment now to place a call to make sure the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is accessible to all workers! With or without a bank account, social insurance number, employment history or tax records, each worker matters to our economy and our communities. But without protection, many of us will be forced to work in unsafe conditions and while sick. Take a moment now to use the one-click phoning tool to leave a message! (www.15andfairness.org/covid19_callcabinet) Simply type in your phone number, and the system will dial and connect you directly to the voicemail of a Federal Minister. As you complete the action, you will be given some example speaking points to support you.
To see our full list of demands to bring urgent H.E.L.P. to protect workers, please read COVID-19: Health Emergency Labour Protections.