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Eight more weeks of CERB to cost $17.9 billion, budget officer says

Last Updated Jun 23, 2020 at 7:18 am PDT

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux waits to appear before the Commons Finance committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The parliamentary budget officer estimates in a new report that it will cost $17.9 billion to provide eight extra weeks of payments through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

New report estimates eight extra weeks of the CERB will cost $17.9 billion

PBO says extension of the CERB will bring the total cost of the program to $71.3 billion

Liberals have promised to increase the limit of the CERB to 24 weeks to provide help through the summer

OTTAWA — The parliamentary budget officer estimates in a new report that it will cost $17.9 billion to provide eight extra weeks of payments through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The report Tuesday morning from budget officer Yves Giroux says that would bring the total cost of the benefit program to $71.3 billion.

The CERB, now budgeted at $60 billion, has paid out $43.51 billion to 8.41 million people as of June 4 as demand surges past federal expectations.

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With the first cohort of CERB applicants set to hit the 16-week limit on the payments early next month, the Liberals have promised to increase the limit to 24 weeks to provide help through the summer for those that need it.

Giroux’s report says the additional cost to the program depends heavily on the outlook for the economy and jobs, as well as the course of the pandemic.

The report says further uncertainty over the final cost of the program rests on the actual takeup of the federal wage subsidy program, which the Liberals plan to retool.