2.7 million Canadians will be worse off when CERB ends

September 15, 2020

OTTAWA — Three-quarters of Canadians—2.7 million people—who are receiving the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will be worse off when the benefit ends on September 27, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

New analysis by senior economist David Macdonald shows that those Canadians currently receiving CERB will get, on average, $123 less a week through Employment Insurance (EI) or the other proposed new programs—and half a million Canadians won’t qualify for support through any program.

“The rapid roll out of CERB and its high support levels have been critical in maintaining household spending during the pandemic,” Macdonald says. “Cutting those amounts now will not only make households who are already hard hit worse off, but it will also bite into our already weakened economy.”

After CERB ends, Canadians impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for revamped EI or a set of three new programs proposed by the federal government: the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). The changes evaluated in this analysis have yet to be passed into legislation. Among the key findings in Macdonald’s analysis:

  • The $500 a week CERB will drop to $377 a week, on average, for Canadians depending on whether they are eligible for EI, CRB, CRSB or CRCB; some Canadians will not being eligible for any program;
  • Half a million CERB recipients working at low wage jobs won’t qualify for any of these programs after CERB ends;
  • Three-quarters of a million Canadians receiving CERB won’t automatically be transferred to EI—they will have to re-apply and hope for success;
  • 1.6 million women will likely be worse off after the CERB transition, compared to 1.2 million men;
  • The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit for those losing work due to school and child care closures will go overwhelmingly to women and its $500 a week flat amount means 181,000 people won’t be worse off;
  • 605,000 of the Greater Toronto Area’s 767,000 CERB recipients will be worse off after the transition. For Montreal’s 431,000 CERB recipients, 299,000 will be worse off after September 27th;
  • The EI changes will cover 336,000 Canadians who haven’t been eligible for CERB or any other income support during the pandemic.

“It’s terribly risky to have only four days to pass these changes through the House of Commons before millions of Canadians stop receiving CERB,” Macdonald says. “We have to get this transition right.”

Read the full analysis at behindthenumbers.ca.


For more information and interviews, contact: Alyssa O’Dell at 343-998-7575 or [email protected].