The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (the "CERB") has been expanded, now offering more financial/wage support to low-income, essential workers.
The CERB eligibility rules have been changed to:
- allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month, while collecting the CERB;
- extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak; and
- extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
These changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020.
So, employers that need to recall employees for short periods of time now may do so, without risking the employees' entitlement to the CERB.
In addition, if an essential worker makes a salary that is less than, or similar to, what he or she would receive from the CERB, the government will work with Ontario through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up for the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19 and who make less than $2,500 a month.
More details as to the application and delivery of this measure will be released shortly.
What employees will be deemed essential for this wage top-up has yet to be confirmed. It appears it will be workers who are "front-line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, or providing essential retail services to Canadians."