April 13, 2020 – The federal government should release data on Employment Insurance (EI) claims and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) on a timely and regular basis, says the C.D. Howe Institute’s Crisis Working Group on Household Income and Credit Support.
The group, comprised of Canadian business leaders and economists and chaired by Michael Horgan, Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP and former Deputy Minister of Finance, Government of Canada, held their third meeting on April 7, 2020 to identify and prioritize key policy challenges during the COVID-19 crisis, and consider policy options and recommendations.
In addition to calls for timely and regular data releases, the group recommended a focus on changes to the “employed and at work” category and “actual hours worked,” instead of the usual headline unemployment figures in the March Labour Force Survey (available on Thursday, April 9). Because the survey reflects the situation early in the crisis and related shutdowns, it provides only partial insights into the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian labour market.
The working group also calls for:
- Temporary suspension of tax collection on RRSP withdrawals to complement existing financial assistance measures and help fill gaps in support for self-employed individuals and those who have immediate cash flow needs;
- Federal/provincial coordination of income support, particularly when coordinating any targeted initiatives for low-income Canadians and those in poverty;
- Support for students and educational institutions, including extending eligibility for the CERB to students whose job offers are not honoured and making funds available to universities and colleges to make more courses available remotely; and
- Creation of a back-to-work strategy to bring workers back to work safely and protect populations vulnerable to the virus.
For more information, please contact: Parisa Mahboubi, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute; or Nancy Schlömer, Communications Officer, C.D. Howe Institute, phone 416-865-1904 ext. 0247, email: email@example.com.