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April 27, 2020 – It’s time to consider the gradual winding down of emergency benefits and tackle disincentives to work, says the C.D. Howe Institute’s Crisis Working Group on Household Income and Credit Support.

Rather than extending the criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to fill remaining support gaps, new targeted federal or provincial programs​ should be used to cover those still ineligible.

At their April 21 meeting, the group identified niche populations who are affected by COVID-19 but are falling through the cracks as they do not meet the CERB requirements, including working social assistance recipients and new entrants to the labour market. However, these support gaps should be addressed through existing or new targeted federal or provincial programs. The group also highlighted that communication is key to form the right expectations—some people might use CERB mistakenly due to lack of clear and detailed explanations on eligibility. Finally, the working group highlighted a number of considerations for the gradual winding down of benefits.

Recommendations from the Crisis Working Group on Household Income and Credit Support include:

  • Addressing remaining support gaps in CERB through existing or new targeted federal or provincial programs;
  • Providing more information and clarification on CERB eligibility to prevent program misuse and give clarification on its potential impact on maternity or parental leave; and
  • Tackling disincentives to work to allow for a gradual wind-down of CERB by considering
    • Mandating that recipients accept their employer’s return to work under certain conditions   
    • Having an appeals mechanism in place for employers, or a system of income-tested CERB clawbacks
    • Childcare roles by allowing parental sharing benefit.

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_0427.pdf