Federal Government Announces 1-Month Extension to CERB, Plus Post-CERB Expansion of EI & Gig-Worker Benefit

The federal government today announced that it is extending the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for one more month. This extension means the program will now end on Sept. 27th. The CERB, which provides $2,000 to Canadian individuals who have lost work because of the pandemic, has been a crucial lifeline for musicians and others in the music industry since the live event shutdowns began.

Additionally, the federal government also announced that it is amending the employment insurance program so that more people will qualify for financial assistance when the CERB program ends. These changes include greater flexibility on the work hours required for EI, which makes it easier for people to qualify for a one-year period.

According to the government’s announcement, which was made by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, those are eligible for EI will transition to that program when CERB ends, and those who do not qualify can apply for new recovery benefits.

Importantly for musicians, self-employed or gig workers can apply for a benefit of up to $400 per week for up to 26 weeks if they have stopped working or had reduced incomes as a result of the pandemic. Under the new arrangement, gig workers still earn money but will need to repay half of of every dollar earned over $38,000.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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