Too many Canadians still face hardship despite government’s CERB program, says Green Party

April 07, 2020

OTTAWA – The Green Party welcomes the financial relief that Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will bring to many Canadians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, however MPs are pointing to gaping holes in the relief program that will leave many others facing financial hardship.

“Too many people fall through the cracks when it comes to the eligibility criteria of the CERB program,” said Green MP Paul Manly (Nanaimo-Ladysmith). “Like the person in my riding who is a part time paramedic. He lost another contract job that he needed to survive. He is not eligible for CERB because he still has some paid work as a paramedic. Or the health care workers with multiple part time jobs at care homes that can now only work at one because of health authority orders. We need frontline workers in these positions to be able do the work we ask of them and not be stressed out about paying rent and feeding their families. Small business owners who pay themselves with a dividend, are also ineligible.”

Greens have long advocated implementing a Guaranteed Livable Income program that would replace the current array of income supports, such as disability payments, social assistance and income supplements for seniors.

“If we had implemented an Emergency Guaranteed Liveable Income and sent everyone a cheque we could have saved people, civil servants and the system a lot of stress,” said Manly. “The Canada Revenue Agency could have figured out who deserved the funding and who didn’t through the tax system afterwards and taxed back those that didn’t need the extra income. It’s not too late to do that.”

“So many Canadians like artists and musicians rely on piecemeal employment to make ends meet,” said Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts. “Employment is no longer as easily defined as it was 10 years ago. The CERB eligibility rules exclude far too many of these workers, including self-employed people who have lost contracts but retain a small percentage of their income. They can’t abandon the work that remains but the income is not enough to survive on. Students and seniors whose part time jobs have been cancelled may not be eligible because of the $5,000 minimum income rule. Students who did not have work have no relief programs available to them.”

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