A red and white umbrella shelters coins from rainCUPE says the Liberal government will have to dig deeper to help millions of Canadians whose incomes have crashed or disappeared entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are positive notes in today’s announcement of the government’s plan to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) until September 27 before a transition towards the Employment Insurance system. CUPE is also pleased to see the government establish a higher $400 minimum weekly benefit but notes this is significantly scaled back from the $500 that CERB recipients could previously rely on.

“The job market hasn’t rebounded and peoples’ bills haven’t gone down, but the government is cutting back on critical support and leaving vulnerable Canadians with $400 less in their pocket every month during this global health crisis,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock.

CUPE welcomes the creation of a $500 weekly benefit for caregivers for up to 26 weeks, and a sick leave benefit that will pay $500 per week for up to two weeks. BC Premier John Horgan deserves credit for his strong advocacy for paid sick leave.

CUPE is also pleased to see the establishment of a $400 weekly benefit for gig economy workers for up to 26 weeks. However, we are disappointed to see the benefit for gig economy workers will pay significantly less to people who are unemployed through no fault of their own and is calling for this inequity to be corrected immediately.

“These are not just numbers on a balance sheet, this is hundreds of thousands of people and families whose lifeline is being cut back,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury. “The government must do better, and we encourage the opposition parties to use their leverage in this minority parliament to force the government to improve its offer.”