Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has shovelled some $150 billion into benefits to help cushion the blow of the COVID-19 crisis, in a May 8, 2020 story. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Adequacy of federal emergency aid measures to be tested by jobless numbers

First steps towards re-opening begins

OTTAWA — The adequacy of federal emergency benefits to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis is bound to come under scrutiny today as the country gets the first real glimpse of the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic.

Statistics Canada is to release the jobless numbers for April — the first full month in which the economy was virtually shut down while all but essential workers stayed home to prevent the spread of the deadly virus that causes COVID-19.

One million were thrown out of work in March — a record-breaking jobs loss that saw the unemployment rate shoot up 2.2 points to 7.8 per cent — and that was before the full force of the pandemic was felt in Canada.

Non-essential businesses only began to shut down in mid-March and are only now taking the tentative, first steps towards re-opening.

The Trudeau government has shovelled some $150 billion into benefits to help cushion the blow, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a 75 per cent wage subsidy, commercial rent relief and a host of targeted measures to help particularly hard hit individuals and sectors, including students, farmers, artists and front-line essential workers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to use today’s daily briefing on the pandemic responding to the calamitous jobless numbers and highlight all the ways the federal government has tried to help.

But the numbers are sure to provide fodder to opposition parties and other critics who’ve long contended that the various emergency aid programs fall short of what’s needed and have left some Canadians and businesses out in the cold.

The government has been trying to fill in the gaps with multiple adjustments to the eligibility criteria for the benefits and additional, targeted measures. Trudeau has promised more to financial support to come.

On Wednesday, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos did not rule out extending the $35-billion Canada Emergency Response Benefit beyond the initial four-months duration. He said 7.5 million Canadians have so far received financial support from the program, which provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for those who’ve lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

However, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has estimated that some 1.4 million unemployed Canadians are not receiving the benefit — either because they haven’t worked sufficient hours or earned sufficient income to qualify.

Duclos can expect to be grilled on that when he testifies later today before the House of Commons government operations committee.

Critics have also said owner-operators of small businesses, who pay themselves and family members out of dividends, can’t access the wage subsidy.

And many small- and medium-sized businesses have complained they’ve been unable to access interest-free loan programs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2020.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey. Photo Submitted
Rimbey hotel gets new lease on life

The Quality Inn & Suites in Rimbey is now open and taking bookings

Leanne Evans, Rimbey Neighbourhood Place Program Coordinator, accepts a donation of $5,000 from Kevin Maxwell manager of Field Support for Telus. (Photo Submitted)
Rimbey Neighbourhood Place making big changes behind the scenes

Rimbey Neighbourhood Place recently recieved a $5,000 donation from Telus

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

File photo
RCMP’s response to online discussions about anti-racism demonstrations

Ponoka RCMP Staff Sgt.’s comments misattributed online

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday February 4, 2020 in Ottawa. The Alberta government is welcoming news that Ottawa has approved an expansion of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. gathering system in Alberta — while condemning federal delays that it says cost this summer’s construction season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Alberta welcomes federal approval of gas pipeline expansion while criticizing delay

The project is expected to create up to 2,920 direct jobs during construction, the federal release said

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer doctor Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s chief public health doctor says in the age of social media, fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been spreading faster than the virus itself. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
VIDEO: Fake news creates serious issues for battling pandemic, chief public health doc says

Both Tam and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to be responsible about the information they share

A narwhal tusk that was donated to a Goodwill store in northwest Calgary this summer will soon be gifted to the Arctic Institute of North America (Hesam Rezaei)
Narwhal tusk discovered in Calgary Goodwill pile to be donated to university

The tusk had federal hunting tags from 1978 attached that say animal was harvested from the central Arctic

(The Canadian Press)
Alberta-raised Cree actor lands role in Disney’s live-action ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’

Tiger Lily is featured in Disney’s 1953 animated “Peter Pan” film

Most Read