Update on COVID-19 and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Right now, a lot of people are sitting around the kitchen table with bills, trying to figure out what needs to be paid, and how to plan for the coming months.
If you’ve been laid off, had your hours reduced, or are worried about your industry, these might be really stressful decisions.
Far too many Canadians are having these tough conversations about finances and their future.
Just look at the numbers: last week, almost a million people applied for Employment Insurance.
The hard truth is that people are out of work because of this crisis, and worried about what comes next.
So I want you to know that we’ll be there to help you.
Our government is doing everything we can to be there for you.
Early this morning, the House of Commons passed an emergency bill to help people as quickly as possible.
The Senate is now studying the bill.
I hope it will be passed quickly, so that we can help Canadians as soon as possible.
We will have more details for you this week and other measures to announce.
And this is only a start.
But this new bill will allow us to take the necessary measures to support you right away.
That includes by increasing the Canada Child Benefit and postponing Canada Student Loan repayments by six months.
And above all, with this bill, we will introduce the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
This benefit will replace two we announced last week—the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit—to simplify the process.
As I have said from the beginning, as the situation evolves, we will adjust to better help you.
For the next four months, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000 a month to workers who have lost their income because of COVID-19.
So, if you’ve lost your job—whether you work full time, on contract, or are self-employed—this benefit will be there for you.
If you are sick or quarantined, or taking care of someone who has COVID-19—this benefit will be there for you.
If you need to stay home, unpaid, to take care of your kids or older relatives—this benefit will be there for you.
And even if you still have your job but are not being paid because of this crisis—the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be there for you.
An online application portal will be launched as soon as possible.
And people will start receiving money within 10 days of applying.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000 a month, for the next 4 months, for workers who lose their income as a result of COVID-19.
This will replace the two benefits we announced last week – the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit – in order to streamline the process.
Like I said from the start, we will adapt our approach wherever needed.
If you’ve lost your job because of COVID-19 – whether you’re full-time, contract, or self-employed – this new benefit will be there for you.
If you’re sick or quarantined, looking after someone sick, or at home taking care of your kids – it’s there for you.
And even if you’re still employed, but not receiving income because of this crisis – the CERB is there for you.
An application portal will launch as quickly as possible, and people should start receiving money within 10 days of applying.
I know people are concerned about delays.
Families are worried about when they’ll get help.
It can be hard to get through on the line, and that is frustrating.
Public servants are working around the clock, while dealing with unprecedented demand and all of the same personal stress everyone else is facing.
They will get to your application.
Help is on the way.
In order to speed things up, we are rapidly deploying workers from different departments to deal with claims.
In the last ten days, we’ve boosted the team by close to 1,300 people to take your calls, process your claims, and get you the support you need.
And, since last Monday, we’ve already processed 143,000 Employment Insurance claims.
That means more money will go directly to people right across the country.
We’re working to get you the support you need, when you need it.
And if you’re doing OK, and there’s a way you can help someone else – as an employer, a landlord, or even just a friend – you can be part of the solution.
It can make all the difference.
Because it’s by working together that we’ll get through this.
And our team knows that.
We’re collaborating with the provinces and territories, as well as with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities, to coordinate our efforts and ensure that everyone is supported.
Earlier this week, with the premiers, we also discussed testing for COVID-19.
We know that how long you wait for your results varies widely.
The premiers and I know we need to address that, and we are.
This is something Minister Hajdu and I discuss with officials every day, and we’ll continue doing what’s needed to speed up results for everyone.
But I also want to recognize the incredible work medical professionals are doing on this front.
According to Dr. Tam, we’re now testing about 10,000 people a day.
That’s a huge increase in numbers in a very short period of time.
And it’s because people across the country are working tirelessly to make it happen.
At the same time, we’re helping companies, labs, and scientific institutions produce and supply what we need most – from masks and ventilators, to vaccines and antiviral drugs.
We’re collaborating with airlines to get Canadians home from abroad, and instructing everyone that they must isolate at home for 14 days.
We’re also working with our international partners on this crisis.
This morning, I had calls with President Sall of Senegal and President Kagame of Rwanda, to share strategies on keeping people safe and addressing the economic impacts of this pandemic.
I’ve also spoken to Prime Minister Abiy of Ethiopia and President Kenyatta of Kenya about international coordination.
And tomorrow, I’ll be speaking with other G20 leaders to discuss further global coordination to our response.
Now, more than ever, it is absolutely essential that Canadians have access to the latest information.
But, like everyone else, the media is feeling the consequences of the virus.
To ensure that journalists can continue doing their jobs, which are even more essential during a crisis, our government will today announce new measures to support them.
Minister Guilbeault will provide more details shortly.
But in the meantime, I would like to thank our Canadian media and journalists for keeping Canadians up to date on the latest developments with reliable information and facts.
We greatly appreciate your work.
Right now, it’s more important than ever that Canadians have access to the latest news and information.
To ensure that journalists can continue to do this vital work, our government is announcing new measures to support them.
Minister Guilbeault will have more to say about this shortly, but I want to take a moment to thank our journalists and media for everything they do – today and every day.
Above all, the most important way we can work together is by staying apart.
Social distancing is our best tool to stop people from getting sick.
I know people are seeing different graphs about how effective social distancing can be, and new maps tracking the spread of this virus.
Every time you turn on the TV or go online, you probably read something new.
I know I do.
And you’ll want to know what’s coming next.
Today, I’ll be getting the latest modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
And we’ll discuss how to share this information even more directly with all of you.
But you deserve the best information we’ve got about what’s happening today, and what tomorrow might bring.
Because otherwise, the uncertainty can be really tough.
Not just for your routine, but for your mental health, too.
We’re facing a once-in-a-generation challenge, and on top of that, you can’t do many of the things that keep you feeling good – getting together with friends, or having dinner with your neighbour.
If you need help, reach out – to your neighbour, to a sibling, to a friend, to a hotline.
But do it from home.
Don’t go out unless you absolutely have to.
If you’re already following these rules – thank you for doing your part.
If you aren’t – know that you’re making a dangerous choice.
Because ignoring these rules puts every single one of us, yourself included, at risk.
Here’s the reality.
If people refuse to follow the recommendations, our doctors and nurses have a greater chance of contracting COVID-19.
And if our healthcare professionals get sick, they cannot go to work.
Therefore, they cannot help you if you get sick.
Our country is facing the greatest public health crisis in its history.
We can’t put those who take care of our health at risk.
Those who insist on seeing their friends or having people over for dinner are putting everyone in danger.
Grocers, electrical technicians, bus drivers, farmers, and garbage collectors deserve better than that.
We must protect them.
What we are asking of you is not complicated: stay home.
If you absolutely must go out, keep a distance of two metres between you.
And if you have come back from abroad, go directly home and stay there for at least 14 days.
This applies to everyone.
To get through this, we all have to look out for one another and we all have to do our part.
I know we can do it.
I know Canadians will rise to the occasion.