Singh calls for universal access to CERB

Singh calls for universal access to CERB

The NDP leader wants the government to lift all criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

OTTAWA — NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he wants the government to lift all criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to allow any Canadian who is in financial distress due to COVID-19 to qualify for benefits.

Singh says he has heard from many Canadians who do not qualify for the emergency benefit program, which opened to applicants this week, including people who are still earning a small income, students and those who were unemployed before the pandemic began.

Singh says he is in negotiations with the Liberals and has received assurances from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that gaps in the program will be addressed.

But the NDP leader says Trudeau could go even farther and drop all criteria to ensure all those who need help can apply.

Singh says the NDP will support the Liberals’ wage subsidy bill to help businesses suffering from the COVID-19 downturn, which will be debated in a special sitting of Parliament today.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says his party believes in the importance of the wage subsidy program to ensure businesses remain viable through the pandemic, and said the bill will pass today.

He says his party successfully negotiated some additions to the bill that will see businesses get help with some of their fixed costs.

Blanchet said further improvements are needed to the wage subsidy program, including for seasonal workers.

Blanchet also raised concerns about temporary foreign workers from Mexico coming to work on Quebec farms — workers he believes are being subjected to less stringent quarantine criteria than residents of the province.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will address Canadians from the House of Commons later today, marking his first public appearance away from his home in 26 days.