What happened: Ottawa revises plans for direct financial support to Canadians, turning two benefits into one benefit
Why it matters: The prime minister says this was done to streamline the government’s approach
Canadians who find themselves out of a job or unable to work because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to access $2,000 a month in support for four months.
The revised measure, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, replaces two separate benefits announced March 18: the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.
“Like I said from the start, we will adapt our approach wherever needed,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his daily briefing Wednesday (March 25) outside his home in Ottawa where he is in isolation.
The prime minister said the revision was needed to streamline benefits to out-of-work Canadians.
Full-time, part-time, contract and self-employed workers are all eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
“If you are sick or quarantined, looking after someone sick, or at home taking care of your kids, it’s there for you,” Trudeau said, adding it would also be applied to those who are still employed but are no longer receiving income as a result of the pandemic crisis.
An online portal for applications will launch “as quickly as possible,” according to the prime minister.
Canadians should begin receiving payments, which would total $8,000 per worker after the full term of four months, within 10 days of applying.
Last week the federal government received nearly 1 million applications for employment insurance.
The revised benefit comes hours after the House of Commons passed an emergency bill to enact economic relief as the COVID-19 pandemic grinds the economy to a halt.
Trudeau made his remark as senators were debating the legislation in the Red Chamber.
The prime minister also revealed Wednesday that new measures were on the way to support the journalism industry.
He did not provide details on the support, be it monetary or otherwise.
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault is expected to provide details during a ministers briefing later in the day.
UPDATED: March 25, 9:30 a.m.
Ottawa will use $30 million earmarked from its national awareness campaign to buy ads in newspapers, TV and digital sources.
“It is crucial that Canadians can obtain authoritative, well-sourced and factual information related to COVID-19,” Guilbeault said, adding this measure will be implemented as soon as possible.
He also announced the Depart of Heritage is also putting together a simplified application process for the Canadian Book Fund and the Canadian Periodical Fund.
“This means that the beneficiaries of these programs will receive their 2020-2021 funding within the next few weeks as opposed to the next few months.”