CERB helped jobless workers rebound from massive pandemic-related unemployment: Survey

New report shows positive impact on CERB recipients
June 13, 2023

 OTTAWA—A national survey of Canadian workers who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) during the pandemic lockdown say the income support not only gave them peace of mind, it helped them springboard back into the job market when the lockdowns lifted.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit: More than just an income program, a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) report that was funded by the Future Skills Centre, features new data about CERB’s positive benefits on its recipients based on a national survey conducted for the CCPA by Abacus Data.

“The survey makes clear that CERB was more than just an income program to help workers pay their bills during the worst Canadian job disruption since 1936, it also allowed them to further their education and improve their skills,” says co-author Katherine Scott, a senior researcher with the CCPA’s National Office.

Thirty-seven per cent of survey respondents pursued an education while on CERB—close to three-quarters (72 per cent) of whom said they would not have done so without that income support—indicating just how critical an adequate income support program can be to building a bridge between work and upskilling.

The survey shows that the CERB program played a key role easing the transition back to work: Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents who returned to the workforce said CERB allowed them to re-enter the job market in a way that worked best for them; 62 per cent said it gave them time to think about the career/job they wanted, and 57 per cent said it allowed them to look for the right job, not just the first job that came along.

It also helped create the conditions for important career changes. Altogether, 41 per cent experienced some sort of career change when re-entering the job market. For example: 35 per cent of respondents changed employers, 31 per cent changed positions or got a new job title, and 30 per cent shifted into a new industry. These figures were even higher among those who chose to pursue additional training to advance their careers while on CERB.

There were clear benefits for those who made a change. Roughly half (48 per cent) said that their current job is now a better skills match, 50 per cent said they have better job satisfaction, 48 per cent said they have better job security, and 46 per cent said they now have better income.

"This research sheds light on how many Canadians used CERB to support their career planning and skills training needs," said Samir Khan, Senior Research and Evaluation Associate at the Future Skills Centre. "As CERB has ended, policymakers need to reflect on the larger message about what policies can enable workers to participate in education and skills training programs."

The online survey of 1,500 CERB recipients was conducted between November 18-25, 2022.

Read the full report here: https://policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/cerb-more-just-income-program


For more information and interviews please contact Amanda Klang, CCPA Senior Communications Specialist (Media & PR) at [email protected]


About the Future Skills Centre

The Future Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to driving innovation in skills development so that everyone in Canada can be prepared for the future of work. We are funded by the Government of Canada's Future Skills Program.


About the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA)

The CCPA is Canada’s leading progressive think tank.