Many of Southwestern Ontario’s tens of thousands of unemployed could be in for a rude awakening next month when Canada’s main COVID-19 relief program ends.
Under pressure to rein in costs and get people back to work, Ottawa is ending its Canadian Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, that paid $2,000 a month to those who lost their jobs because of the pandemic and shifting them instead onto Employment Insurance (EI).
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a left-leaning think tank, estimates the switch will leave more than 1.2 million unemployed Ontarians worse off.
Many recipients of the few-strings-attached CERB — the self-employed and those making as much as $1,000 a month, for example — aren’t eligible for EI.
Others, who were in low-paying work before the pandemic struck, are likely to find they’ll get less, in some cases much less, under EI, which is tied to how much a person earned before losing their job and pays a maximum of $573 a week