Manitoba premier calling on Ottawa to change CERB program
Premier Brian Pallister.
WINNIPEG -- Premier Brian Pallister is calling on the federal government to make changes to the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
Pallister made the announcement Tuesday morning, saying the current program penalizes those who want to return to work.
The current program will give Canadians up to $2,000 as long as they earn less than $1,000.
"The program needs to be redesigned. It needs to be redesigned to make sure people aren't penalized for working and wanting to support their families without having to be dependent on the CERB," said Pallister.
The Manitoba government created the Job Restart Program as an alternative for Manitobans, which would provide payments of up to $2,000 in financial support for those who went off CERB and took a full-time job.
"We all succeed as Canada succeeds," said Pallister.
Pallister said he has written to other premiers in Canada, as he hopes they will also ask the federal government to make changes to the program.
Pallister added he wants to make it clear that he is not criticizing the federal government, saying he believes Ottawa has done a good job handling the pandemic.
NDP Leader Wab Kinew told CTV News he believes CERB should remain and be expanded, and says the premier does not understand the need for CERB.
“I don’t want to see a second lockdown happen, but as long as the experts are saying there is a possibility we might have to do more restrictions, we need to keep programs like the CERB and the wage subsidy in place to help people through this difficult economic time,” he said.
“In my own experience, I know really hard-working people who were put out of work due to the lockdown restrictions, and they had to turn to the CERB, and if Mr. Pallister doesn’t understand the importance that it played in allowing people to keep making their mortgage payments, to put food on the table, to pay their bills, it tells me he doesn’t understand the scope of the recession we’re in, and the importance of that program to help keep our economy moving.”
In a statement, Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said the province’s reopening strategy cannot be about going back to normal.
“Governments and businesses need to plan to handle that reckoning while building a much stronger and self-reliant economy, not more of the same,” Lamont wrote in a statement.
“Brian Pallister needs to look at the colossal failures of his own PC government before he points fingers at anyone else.”
Pallister also touched on the importance of face-to-face meetings and he feels more can be done compared to electronic meetings.
With that, he said the plan is to head to Ottawa with a Restart Manitoba Taskforce, which would include several cabinet ministers to discuss a handful of topics.
"I think it is time for us to get back to some face-to-face on a number of fronts," said Pallister.
He added he can't talk on all the details right now, but the plan is to meet with those in the nation's capital in August.
PROMOTING TRAVEL IN MANITOBA
On Monday, Travel Manitoba released its newest campaign encouraging Manitobans to explore their own backyard, but the campaign also targeted those in Western Canada as well as northwestern Ontario.
Pallister was asked if this was the right approach considering there are still a higher number of cases in those provinces.
"Manitoba offers the safest site for you to visit in the country and one of the safest in the world," he said. "The reality is that we are diligent here and we know we can't continue to live in fear. That being said we have to exercise responsible relaxing of the past rules."
Pallister added while COVID-19 case numbers are increasing in parts of Western Canada, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan, the important number is the percentage of positive tests and not total positive cases.
He said we still need to adhere to the fundamentals, but that doesn't mean a continued shut down of the economy.