Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh says there are still too many gaps in emergency relief programs to keep food on the table and pay the bills for many workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There will need to be significant changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to ensure more workers can access the much-needed support as promised,” says Cavanagh.
The relief programs to date leave far too many workers behind. Precarious workers, seasonal workers, post-secondary students, artists and musicians among others who rely on the summer season, fear they will be excluded from qualifying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Students and other seasonal workers who were unemployed prior to March 15 have watched their employment prospects disappear as have workers working multiple jobs. Contract and seasonal workers who lost a majority of their income will not qualify.
The CERB criteria stipulates that you had to be working and your job stopped for at least 14 days due to COVID-19. We are concerned that those who work in seasonal jobs will be penalized for working a few shifts and others who planned to return to the workforce in seasonal businesses will not have an income.
“It’s crucial that these programs be inclusive and accessible to the people who desperately need them. Precarious, seasonal, and gig workers are going to fall through the cracks, and we look forward to hearing solutions from the federal government soon.
“The Federal Government is promising changes to the CERB, but making workers wait is unfair. It’s time to look at some sort of a universal benefit program,” concludes Cavanagh.