Trudeau urges recall of Parliament to pass more COVID-19 measures

Prime Minister also offers more details on $2,000 monthly benefit to workers out of a job because of pandemic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging the recall of Parliament to pass more economic measures to manage the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among those measures is Ottawa’s newly revised 75% wage subsidy, which the government has not yet revealed a cost estimate for.

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“This is the largest economic program in Canada’s history, so I’ve asked the house leader and the deputy minister to reach out to the other parties about bringing back Parliament,” the prime minister said Wednesday (April 1) during his daily briefing outside his home in Ottawa.

A small group of parliamentarians was recalled March 24-25 to pass a $107-billion COVID-19 relief package.

Trudeau also dropped new information about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), confirming applications will be online at Canada.ca beginning April 6 for those who haven’t already applied for employment insurance.

The CERB offers $2,000 a month for four months to those out of a job or unable to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those receiving the benefit will need to check in once a month to confirm that they are still out of work.

Recipients will have the option of receiving the benefits through a cheque in the mail or direct deposit.

Those who select direct deposit should receive payments in three to five days, while a cheque will take 10 days.

Canadians who’ve already applied for EI do not need to apply for the CERB, Trudeau said, adding Treasury Board president Jean-Yves Duclos and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough would be providing more details on eligibility and the application process later in the day.

Those without online access will be able to call the Canada Revenue Agency for assistance.

But Trudeau emphasized that the CERB would not be open to workers being kept on the company payroll through the government’s 75% wage subsidy.

“It’s one or the other. You can’t get both of these benefits,” he said.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will be offering an update on the federal government’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program at 11 a.m. PT.

Trudeau originally said Morneau would provide further details about the revised wage subsidy on Tuesday (March 31).

But Morneau, who is in isolation after coming into contact with a UN official diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-March, will be speaking a day later alongside Minister of Small Business Mary Ng and Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains.

The subsidy was originally pegged at 10% when it was first announced March 18 as a means to keep workers on the payroll.

The revised subsidy is open to small businesses, large corporations, non-profits and charitable organizations that have seen gross revenues decline 30%.

The subsidy was initially only going to apply small businesses but Ottawa will now cover up to 75% on the first $58,700 an employee earns regardless of the size of the company he or she works for.

The prime minister said on Monday the wage subsidy program requires trust and good faith from all parties involved and that a verification system will be developed in the coming weeks.

Trudeau could not offer an estimate on the cost of the program, but instead said Morneau would offer more details of the total cost.

The federal government was still developing background documents explaining the technical details of the program ahead of Morneau’s briefing.

torton@biv.com

@reporton

© Melita New Era

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