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CERB eligibility extended for 8 weeks

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday that eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which was launched to help Canadians make ends meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been extended by 8 weeks.

CERB’s 16 week period was set to expire in the first week of July, for millions who applied when it was first introduced.

“So, if you’ve been getting the CERB and you still can’t work because you are unable to find a job or it’s just not possible, you will keep getting that $2,000 a month,” said Trudeau during his daily COVID-19 update.

The extension doesn’t come with further restrictions, but applicants will be asked to sign an attestation that they are looking for work.

“We’re still looking at ways of moving forward to encourage people to look for work and to make sure they are taking jobs that become available,” said Trudeau.

“But the reality is there are 3 million people out of work who are looking for work and even as our economy is reopening there are many many many more people out of work and willing to work than there are jobs available.”

Stephen Brown, senior Canada economist at Capital Economics, says there are still risks but the announcement bodes well for the economy.

“The Canada Emergency Response Benefit has paid out far more than we expected and household income was probably broadly unchanged in the second quarter,” said Brown in a note.

“Together with the confirmation today that the program will be extended by two months, this raises the chance of a stronger recovery than we forecast.”

Trudeau acknowledged that some sectors will bounce back faster than others, and many workers won’t be able to find work.

He did not provide a cost for extending the program. There have been 8.41 million unique applications for CERB and $43.51 billion has been paid out. Trudeau has encouraged a gradual shift into the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

“This pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for our country,” said Trudeau.

“And we’re going to make sure that all our supports, including the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and Employment Insurance, are working effectively to help get Canadians back on their feet.”

Trudeau also announced an agreement with the U.S. to extend non-essential travel restrictions between the countries until July 21.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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