Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government plans to move out-of-work Canadians into the employment insurance system and provide parallel support for millions of people who are set to exhaust their emergency pandemic aid, and who don’t have EI to fall back on.
The $80-billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit is set to wind down over the coming weeks, and those who are EI-eligible are to start drawing assistance that way.
Speaking Friday morning, Trudeau said many people who don’t qualify for CERB, such as gig or contract workers, will gain access to a transitional, parallel benefit that is similar to EI.
It will also include access to training and the ability to work more hours without a steep clawback in benefit payments, Trudeau said.
He said more details will be unveiled at a later date.
The most recent figures on the CERB show that as of July 26, the government had paid out $62.75 billion in benefits to 8.46 million unique applicants since its launch.
About half those costs have gone to EI-eligible workers, leaving millions who don’t pay into EI unable to access the program once the emergency benefit ends.
“No one will be left behind,” Trudeau promised.
The economy started to reawaken after severe lockdowns in March and April. Statistics Canada reported the gross domestic product grew by 4.5 per cent in May.
The average economist estimate was for a 3.5 per cent increase in gross domestic product for May, according to the financial data firm Refinitiv.
The national data agency said rebounds in May were seen across multiple industries with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Retail trade registered a 16.4 per cent bump to mark its largest monthly increase since comparable readings began in 1961.
Motor vehicle and car sales contributed the most to the retail growth. Statistics Canada says the sector would have grown by 11.4 per cent had they been excluded from calculations.
In a preliminary estimate for June, the agency said the economy continued to pick up steam, with a five-per-cent increase for the month.
Despite the two months of growth after two months of negative readings, Statistics Canada’s preliminary estimate is that economic output contracted by 12 per cent in the second quarter compared to the first three months of 2020.