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June 23, 2020 – Ottawa should use the Canada Emergency Response Benefit’s eight-week extension to update its Employment Insurance administrative architecture and roll out a training benefit program, says the C.D. Howe Institute’s Crisis Working Group on Household Income and Credit Support.

At their recent meeting, working group members discussed the proposed amendments to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Act. The group also identified the need for training support benefits for CERB recipients, management of uncertainties to improve decision-making by households, and increased coordination with provincial governments to ease the transition back to work. 

The group recommends:

  • Removing the penalty of imprisonment for CERB misuse, and defining vague language surrounding the requirement for a worker to return to work when it is “reasonable to do so” in proposed amendments to the CERB Act;  
  • Tackling the issues of long-term displacements and structural unemployment by rolling out a training benefit program, allowing CERB recipients to reskill or upskill;
  • Identifying potential scenarios and specify with more lead-time governments’ plans on how to resume economic activities and schools, and support Canadians under various circumstances; and
  • Updating the administrative architecture for Employment Insurance to ensure it can handle a surge in applicants when CERB ends in September.

The group of economists and business leaders is co-chaired by Michael Horgan, Senior Advisor at Bennett Jones LLP and former Deputy Minister of Finance, Government of Canada; and Kathleen Taylor, Chair of the Board at Royal Bank of Canada.

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: nschlomer@cdhowe.org

Full Communiqué: CWGR_2020_0623.pdf