Canada outlines plan to move unemployed off COVID-19 emergency benefits

By Nichola Saminather and Kelsey Johnson

TORONTO/OTTAWA, Aug 20 (Reuters)Canada on Thursday outlined a plan to move the unemployed off of an emergency COVID-19 income-support program and onto an expanded employment insurance plan that requires people to look for a job to qualify, Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough said.

Canada is extending the emergency support by one month, or 4 extra weeks, to the end of September, and starting on Sept. 27 it will offer unemployment benefits to some 400,000 people who would not normally qualify, a senior official said.

About 4.5 million people are currently receiving up to C$2,000 a month in emergency support.

The total cost of the new measures is estimated at about C$37 billion ($28.1 billion) over the next year, a senior official said, and a parliamentary vote will be needed to pass some of the changes when it reconvenes in September.

The emergency income support program had been set to expire in August. With unemployment at 10.9% in July, nearly double the February rate, millions of Canadians had been waiting to hear what further help would be offered.

“We’re doing our very best to support all Canadian workers and leave no one behind,” Qualtrough said in a news conference.

(Reporting By Nichola Saminather and Kelsey Johnson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Grant McCool)

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