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

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

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

The CERB, now budgeted at $60 billion, has paid out $43.51 billion to 8.41 million people

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

The report this morning from budget officer Yves Giroux says that would bring the total cost of the benefit program for people who’ve lost all or nearly all their work to the COVID-19 pandemic 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.

READ MORE: CERB to be extended by eight weeks amid gradual post-COVID reopening

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 who 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 separate federal wage-subsidy program, which the Liberals plan to retool.

A report this morning from a group of experts convened by the C.D. Howe Institute is urging the Liberals to take the extra time bought by extending the CERB to retool the program itself and put in a program to help recipients retrain for other or better jobs.

READ MORE: CERB payments docked to account for April advance

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough and Tiff Macklem, the governor of the Bank of Canada, separately on Monday warned that not everyone will have a job to go back to as restrictions ease and businesses reopen. Some companies may not survive the recession the pandemic has caused, Macklem said.

It’s why the C.D. Howe paper also calls for an update to the employment insurance system to handle a possible surge in applicants come September, and for clearer language around a newly imposed requirement on CERB recipients to look or take work when it is “reasonable to do so.”

When the Liberals unveiled the wage subsidy and CERB, it was the subsidy program that carried the heftier price tag of over $70 billion. The government styled it the largest social support program in the country’s history.

But fewer companies than envisioned have used the subsidy, which now is budgeted to cost $45 billion. As of June 15, the government had approved $13.28 billion in payroll help to 223,918 companies.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been working on changes to the program’s eligibility rules to improve takeup.

The Liberals’ latest estimated cost of the total package of pandemic-related aid was about $153.7 billion, but Giroux’s running tally now estimates the cost at $169.2 billion.

Fuelling demand for the CERB has been a steep drop in employment, with three million job losses in March and April as non-essential businesses were ordered closed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

With the possibility of more temporary layoffs becoming permanent, the Liberals on Monday extended the recall period for furloughed workers. In a statement, Labour Minister Filomena Tassi said the decision was due to “a great deal of uncertainty” companies have about when they can bring back employees.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Kelowna firefighters practice swiftwater rescue techniques in the Shuswap River in Cherryville April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
West Kelowna firefighters make a splash in North Okanagan

Swift water rescue training brings team to Cherryville’s Shuswap River

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019. (Facebook photo)
Meth, excessive speed found as factors in Osoyoos boat crash deaths

Nick Trask, 36, and Ryan Ellison, 35, died in a boat collision on Osoyoos Lake in 2019

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

The automated external defibrillator, like the one pictured here, was stolen from the Skaha Lake Boathouse for the second time in a year. (File)
Life-saving device stolen from Penticton paddler community for second time

It’s hoped that a new boathouse will be able to better protect the device

Penticton Secondary School grade 12 student and organizer of Wednesday’s (April 21) Earth Day clean-up Rachel Jung cleans up Okanagan Beach with grade 9 students Easton Souch, Ethan Gordon, Sylas Denninger and Aydan Young. (Jesse Day - Western News)
Penticton High School students spend the day cleaning up town

‘The Okanagan is such a beautiful place… it’s really sad to see litter everywhere,’ said organizer

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

Virtual meetings are taking a toll on local governance, according to multiple mayors in the North Okanagan. (Headway photo)
Virtual meetings leave North Okanagan politicians out of touch

More than a year of Zoom has led to a disconnect between officials, according to local mayors

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
‘I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident wants the Columbia River better protected

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Most Read