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Liberals rejig benefits for workers affected by COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 1:21 pm EDT

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau introduces a government bill during a special sitting of Parliament in the House of Commons Wednesday March 25, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — The federal government is repackaging two previously promised benefits for Canadians whose working lives are disrupted by COVID-19.

Instead, the Liberals say there will now be one benefit to provide 16 weeks of payments to workers whose income drops to zero because of the pandemic, including if they have been furloughed by their employers but technically still have jobs.

Speaking in the Senate, Finance Minister Bill Morneau is telling senators that the move should help get money to affected workers faster than under the previously announced model.

When the Liberals unveiled their response package, they proposed two benefits — one to flow through the employment insurance system and another for those who don’t qualify for EI benefits, such as being self-employed workers.

Morneau says the new, combined benefit should be simpler to administer and get to workers with a target delivery date of April 6.

The House of Commons approved the stimulus package in the early hours of Wednesday and the Senate is expected to approve the bill by this afternoon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press