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Federal government repackages EI support benefit for workers affected by novel coronavirus

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The federal government is streamlining the process for workers whose incomes have been disrupted by COVID-19, by repackaging two previously-announced financial benefits into one, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.

The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide workers who have lost their incomes due to the coronavirus with $2,000 a month for the next four months, and will replace the two financial measures – the emergency care and emergency support benefits – announced last week, said Trudeau.

The benefits were combined in order to help streamline the process, he said.

“Like I said from the start, we will adapt our approach wherever needed.”

People who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, are full-time contract or self-employed and people who are sick or in quarantine, or looking after someone who is sick, will be eligible for the benefit, said Trudeau, as will people who are home taking care of their children. 

The benefit is also for those who may still be employed, but are not recieving income because of the COVID-19 crisis, he said.

Trudeau says the government is “hopeful” that the application portal for the benefit will be up and running by April 6.

Once that portal launches, said Trudeau, people should start receiving money within ten days of applying.

The federal government is also “rapidly deploying” workers from different departments to deal with the claims.

Nearly one million people applied for EI last week, and since last Monday, the government has processed 143,000 claims.

The government is looking at ways to help people bridge the gap between their last paycheck and the emergency response benefit, such as through credit, said Trudeau, as well as more direct help for businesses, such as examining models used in countries like Germany and Denmark.

"We're looking at ways to help people bridge, through credit or other measures, their ability to mae it to the arrival of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit," he said.

The House of Commons passed emergency legislation for the federal government’s $82-billion COVID-19 aid package early Wednesday morning, after a day of negotiations

It’s now up to Senate to approve the bill.