Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday that the federal government is considering an extension of the emergency relief funds program put in place to provide welfare for those unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic as Ontario moves more regions to a second phase of reopening.
An update on the fate of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or CERB, will come by the end of the week, Trudeau told reporters, saying Ottawa is “working on a solution to extend the benefit for people who can’t return to work yet.”
The benefit will reach an end for millions of Canadians by easy July as the 16-week eligibility period concludes. Citizens were able to apply starting in April and were eligible for up for $8,000 over a maximum of 16 weeks between March 15 and Oct. 3.
The government reports that over a million Canadians have departed the program before maxing out their 16-week eligibility. With provinces opening up after shutdowns aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19, some have returned to work or are covered through the wage subsidy program.
“If you’re having trouble finding a job, you shouldn’t also be worrying about whether you’ll hit the limit of your CERB benefits,” Trudeau said.
Shortly after Trudeau’s presser, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the entirety of the province will be in Stage 2 of the economic and social reopening plan as of Friday with the exception of Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex, regions among the hardest hit.
Most of Ontario was able to enter Stage 2 last Friday, though Hamilton, some regions along the United States border and places with COVID-19 outbreaks among migrant workers, according to reports.