Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said today that shortcomings in government support programs could “derail” provincial efforts to get the country’s economy back on track after the widespread business closings brought about by COVID- 19.
He said the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and student financial assistance program made people stay at home rather than return to work.
“At a time when our economy is in need of recovery, Justin Trudeau has given it a tranquilizer and risks creating labor shortages across the country. This failure must be reversed before it is too late. Canada’s economic recovery depends on it, “said Scheer.
Canadians are not eligible to receive the Canada Emergency Allowance (CERB) or student emergency assistance if they earn more than $ 1,000 per month, and most benefits are available for several months.
Scheer said that as businesses slowly start to reopen, their employees are forced to choose between taking shifts and retaining benefits. CERB was designed to cushion the impact of COVID-19 but is now threatening to hamper an economic recovery, he said.
Scheer said the programs need to be relaxed to encourage people to return to work. He called for a progressive and graduated formula allowing claimants to collect part of the benefit while working more hours to earn more than $ 1,000.
Watch: Andrew Scheer says federal benefits could lead to labor shortages
“A phasing out of the benefit as people earn more and more, in our opinion, would encourage and encourage people to return to the workforce. This would help small businesses get the labor they will need to restart their business without having to force people to choose between the risk of going back to work and losing all their benefits, “he said. he declares.
To date, more than 7.3 million Canadians have applied for CERB. Another 96,000 employers applied for a 75 per cent wage subsidy to cover approximately 1.7 million workers. Another 518,000 businesses requested $ 40,000 in government guaranteed loans to stay afloat during the global pandemic.
“We are not there yet”: PM
When asked if the government would consider changing the benefits package, Trudeau said he was looking forward to cutting benefits and helping people get back to work – but “we don’t we are not there yet. “
“We are still trying to make sure that people get the support they need, even as the economy begins to gradually reopen. Our goal is to keep people safe and allow them to stay at home and pay for their groceries, pay their rents and support each other, “he said.
“Obviously, a lot of thinking is going on about the different steps that will be required to get people out of their homes and back to work, but for now, we are still very focused on how we are helping people to get through this situation. “”
Watch: Justin Trudeau says focus remains on the safety of Canadians
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said today that COVID-19 is a problem Canadians will face until there is a vaccine.
“It means that physical distance, hand hygiene and the coughing etiquette must continue everywhere. And although we are getting more and more out of our homes, it will be extremely important that at the first sign of symptoms, we stay home to save lives, “she said.
“Working while we are sick can no longer be a thing. As we progress in the coming weeks, let’s not forget that we are all in the same boat and we will get there with good science, solid evidence, careful steps and a common goal to succeed despite the difficulties. ”
Health Minister Patty Hajdu also warned that the restrictions would be eased too quickly, noting that there is still no general immunity against the new coronavirus.
“I think the first thing Canadians need to remember is that it is not over,” she said. “It is a careful reopening in some provinces, in certain sectors, but that the new normal will have to include new ways of living, new ways of working that will protect us in this unique and difficult time. “
Watch: Patty Hajdu Warns “It’s Not Over”
In an interview with CBC News Network’s Power and politics Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister last week hinted that federal benefits could have “potential negative results” or “unintended consequences” by encouraging people to stay at home.
“I am not ruling out the need for people to get support and I have thanked very publicly … the federal government for introducing these programs. But I am aware of the real and potentially dangerous consequences of rewarding people who are not looking for work, “he told host Vassy Kapelos.
“We have many opportunities in our province and I have encouraged and will encourage people to take advantage of them because I know that our small business community is eager to reopen and willing to employ people by doing that. “
The provinces are gradually authorizing the reopening of certain businesses and services. Some Ontario services have reopened today and Premier Doug Ford has said the province could “get closer” to opening parks and more street-side retail options.