cerb extension

There are now concerns that the CERB extension will delay people going back to work

Now that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) has officially been extended for another eight weeks, as provinces take their time to gradually reopen, some people and businesses are concerned that the funding may deter people from getting back to work.

The federal program was implemented in March to support those who suddenly lost their job due to the pandemic but now that more and more industries are being given the green light to resume operations, people seem to think that some might prefer to stay home and safely collect the $2,000 than return to work (and potentially earn less).

As many have pointed out, though, the risk of the virus still looms, so health and safety fears are a very valid reason for not wanting to get back on the job.

Also, if an employer is offering their staff less than the basic living wage that the CERB provides, then that in itself is a far larger and more systemic issue.

But this point gets complicated when one takes into account the fact that businesses will likely have to cut back opening hours, capacity and other things from what they were pre-COVID as they slowly return.

According to the CERB guidelines, any employee who refuses to return to work is rendering themselves ineligible for the funds, as this is considered quitting, and it is only available to those who are out of work as a result of the health crisis and through no fault of their own.

And though fraud has been an ongoing worry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated numerous times that his main priority has been getting money out quickly to citizens who needed it, and not vetting applicants' eligibility beforehand.

He has also continued to encourage companies to take advantage of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), through which Ottawa subsidizes a chunk of employee wages to help businesses reopen and get back on their feet — and to help residents transition from the CERB to working once again.

Certain provinces have also taken things into their own hands, like Manitoba, which is offering its citizens $2,000 to get off the benefit.

Still, there is a growing fear among some that the longer CERB is extended, the more people will get used to staying at home and collecting a cheque — a sentiment that seems rooted in blind faith in capitalism and the myth of productivity.

The reality is that, anecdotally, many residents seem pretty eager to get back to work, routine and some semblance of normal life again after months of lockdown.

Demonizing a benefit that helped keep the public safe and secure at home — and thus saved countless lives — and the people who utilized it doesn't exactly seem sensible.

While financial and other tensions continue to heighten worldwide amid the novel coronavirus and other sociopolitical issues, it remains to be seen how well and how quickly individuals and economies at large will recover.

Lead photo by

Jud Mackrill

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