Scheer proposes modification to CERB to get Canadians back to work

Scheer proposes modification to CERB to get Canadians back to work
OTTAWA -- Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is pitching a revision to the existing Canada Emergency Response Benefit to incentivize Canadians to return to work or look for a job as the economy reopens.

As it stands, the program cuts off eligibility to those who make more than $1,000 per month, which the Tories have argued is discouraging Canadian workers from weaning off government aid. Under the Conservatives proposed "Back to Work Bonus," workers who make between $1,000 and $5,000 per month would receive 50 cents for every extra dollar earned above the $1,000 threshold.

"Canadians want to work but they are understandably concerned about their financial security. This common sense proposal will give workers the support they need to transition back into the workforce and ensure local businesses are able to fill shifts," said Scheer, speaking in Saskatchewan on Thursday.

Last Tuesday, the Trudeau Liberals pledged to extend the benefit by an additional eight weeks as it was set to expire in early July. The total cost of the aid program sat around $44 billion as of early June.

"The reality is that even as we start to reopen, a lot of people still need this support to pay their bills while they look for work," Trudeau said.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said during an interview on CTVs Power Play that the CERB was "not a long-term solution" and Canadians shouldnt expect another extension.

"If at some point in the future, say the fall or early next year, there was a second wave, of course wed have to look at what support for Canadian workers would look like at that time," said Qualtrough.

Individual provinces are trying out similar approaches.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced this week a new Manitoba Job Restart program that would give applicants who work at least 30 hours per week an additional payment of $500 every two weeks over a six-week period.

"Its time to kick CERB to the curb," said Pallister in a press conference on Tuesday.

Scheer said the Tories proposal would eliminate the barrier to work and provide confidence that returning to the job is more fruitful than staying at home.

"Thats the underlying principle of this policy. Itll incentivize businesses to continue to open and to offer shifts, it will remove that barrier to work for workers who are in that precarious position, and it will help the recovery happen more quickly."

The Conservative leader also slammed the federal government for news on Wednesday that Canadas AAA credit rating by Fitch Ratings Inc. had been downgraded to a AA+ rating.

"Its entirely [the prime ministers] fault. When you look at the weak position that Canada was in, fiscally, heading into the pandemic. Lets keep in mind the conditions were already laid for a made-in-Canada recession," said Scheer.
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