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Canadians split on ending CERB, some say they'd lose roof over their head without COVID-19 benefits

Last Updated Jul 22, 2020 at 7:24 am PDT

The employment insurance section of the Government of Canada website is shown on a laptop in Toronto on April 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston

Canadians are almost evenly split when it come to whether the feds should end CERB or not

Maru/Blue finds 48 per cent of people nationally feel the government needs to look at ending the program

52 per cent of respondents oppose shutting down CERB

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) –┬áIs it time to end emergency benefits for people who have lost work because of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Canadians can’t seem to agree.

The question from pollster Maru/Blue is whether or not Ottawa should start to decrease spending by shutting down the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program, regardless of what the impact may be on people.

The response is pretty much an even split among respondents.

Maru/Blue finds 48 per cent of people, nationally, feel the government needs to look at ending the program, while 52 per cent oppose shutting down CERB, which has been an up-to-$2,000-per-month lifeline for many who’ve lost work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost two-thirds (63%) says they approve of how the federal government is spending to help Canadians during the pandemic, but almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents say they are “deeply worried” over how the deficit and debt will affect their taxes.

“And then there are voices calling out that this is a disincentive to actually return to the workplace in certain sectors. I look at this slightly differently,” says John Wright, executive vice president of Maru/Blue Public Opinion.

He tells NEWS 1130 that the data shows part-time workers are struggling to make up the difference if they’re being asked to come back to work at reduced hours.

“They say they’d rather stay on CERB, but if you dig beneath the surface, what you’re finding is that many people need those extra days to pay the rent. One of the issues we have here is the bridge between coming back more part-time and not getting enough hours to make the difference.”

Wright says there needs to be more discussion about whether CERB should be shut down.

“People must have that assurance that they can pay the bills. We have 21 per cent of all the people in this country saying that if they don’t have some kind of government program, they literally could lose the roof over their head. These are things we are going to have to be very careful about in bringing people back, and this where government programs actually have a benefit.”

In B.C., 51 per cent polled feel that Ottawa should start ending CERB. In Ontario, which is much further behind in its recovery, 80 per cent are opposed to ending the benefit.