Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Trudeau announces pay top-up for essential workers, expands emergency benefit

People who make some income will be able to qualify

Canada will move to top up the pay of essential workers making less than $2,500 per month and expand emergency benefits to workers still making some income.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement during his daily address from Rideau Cottage on Wednesday (April 15).

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit currently provides $2,000 per month to workers who have lost their jobs. The changes announced by Trudeau Wednesday would expand that benefit to people making up to $1,000 per month and allow people whose EI has run out in 2020, as well as seasonable workers who are unable to find jobs this year. At least six million people have applied for either EI or CERB so far.

Essential workers include anyone from grocery store clerks to care home aides.

“The very places that care for our elderly are the most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Trudeau said.

“We all need to do better.”

At a later press conference, Treasure Board president Jean-Yves Duclos said people newly eligible for CERB will get it retroactively from March 15.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said it was “premature to estimate” the cost of expanded CERB, as the government hopes the wage subsidy will get many back to work and off the emergency benefit.

As of Wednesday morning, COVID-19 had led to 27,540 cases and 954 deaths in Canada.

READ MORE: Trudeau unveils new $2,000 per month benefit to streamline COVID-19 aid

READ MORE: WHO issues guidelines for lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Is Canada ready?


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