Design of post-CERB benefits could change as pandemic shifts course, minister says

OTTAWA — The federal minister overseeing key aid programs for workers during the pandemic says there could still be changes to a proposed package of income-support benefits as the country faces renewed pressure from COVID-19.

That includes caregiver payments for anyone who can't go to work because their child's school or daycare is closed, or they have to keep them home for COVID-19 reasons.

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To get the help after the fact, workers would have to show they could not work at least 60 per cent of their usual hours, or about three days out of a five-day workweek.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough says she's heard that eligibility criteria might be too restrictive for parents who have to take off a day or two to wait in hours-long lines for a COVID-19 test.

She says the proposed package and eligibility rules are a baseline and that the government wants them to be flexible to take into consideration that some people may only need one or two days.

The alternative would be to start from scratch on benefits, which Qualtrough says the Liberals want to avoid.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.

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