VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit coming to an end later this month, many in B.C. may be wondering how they’ll be able to make rent.
While many will still have money coming in, an economist with a left-leaning thinktank is warning it may still not be enough for many to make ends meet.
“There are two main plans in place to replace the CERB: one is using the Employment Insurance system and expanding the eligibility for that and putting a new benefits flooring on that of $400 a week — which is of course lower than what the CERB was,” Alex Hemingway with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives explains.
He says that can be addressed by introducing new regulations.
However, Hemingway says there are concerns about the federal government’s second main plan: the Canada Recovery Benefit, which is supposed to cover those not eligible for the expanded EI.
“But, that requires legislation to be put in place and we know that parliament’s been on break. So we’re going to come up very close to the end of CERB in a couple of weeks before any legislation is in place to ensure there’s a backstop there. So that’s concerning,” he tells NEWS 1130.
The end to the CERB will have come weeks after British Columbia already stopped its rental supplement program amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban on evictions has also already been lifted.
“It’s going to put the squeeze on a lot of people,” Hemingway says.
“If you live in B.C. and you’re looking at trying to scrape by on $400 a week or about $1,600 a month, you’re barely going to make rent in many parts of the province. That’s a problem for families, it’s also a problem for the broader economy when we leave households in these very precarious situations.”
He notes more women than men have been collecting CERB payments amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The end to the program, he says, will impact the gender gap.
With kids back in classes, Hemingway says there are worries about what single parents will do if the pandemic shuts schools down.
While he believes the expansion to EI and the Canada Recovery Benefit are both positives, more needs to be done to help those who may not qualify.
“We shouldn’t be in a situation where we’re asking people to get by on what actually is an amount of money that is below the poverty line in B.C. and well below the minimum wage line as well,” he says.
Nation-wide, of the four million people who will see their CERB payouts end on Sept. 27, only 2.1 million are going to eligible for Employment Insurance.