OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government plans to move out-of-work Canadians into the employment insurance system and provide parallel support for millions set to exhaust emergency pandemic aid who don’t have EI to fall back on.
The $80-billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit is set to wind down over the coming weeks, with those who are EI-eligible to start drawing assistance that way.
Speaking Friday morning, Trudeau said many people who don’t qualify for the program, such as gig or contract workers, will gain access to a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to EI.
It will also include access to training, and the ability to work more hours without having as steep a clawback in benefit payments, Trudeau said.
He said more details will be unveiled at a later date.
The most recent figures on the CERB show that as of July 26, the government had paid out $62.75 billion in benefits to 8.46 million unique applicants since its launch.
About half those costs have gone to EI-eligible workers, leaving millions who don’t pay into EI unable to access the program once the emergency benefit ends.
“No one will be left behind,” Trudeau promised.
The economy started to reawaken after severe lockdowns in March and April as Statistics Canada reported the gross domestic product grew by 4.5% in May.
The average economist estimate was for a 3.5% increase in gross domestic product for May, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.
Statistics Canada says economic activity still remained 15% below pre-pandemic level despite the gains over May as business activity was slowly allowed to resume.
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