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‘I can make more money on CERB’: More concerns benefit may be a disincentive for workers

More concerns about CERB keeping people at home instead of work
A North Vancouver brewery is wondering if the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is unintentionally keeping people at home. When it tried to hire staff for an summer opening, it discovered many potential candidates were quite comfortable staying on the CERB and as Catherine Urquhart reports, that's prompting calls to reform the government handout.

Andrew Doyle and Anthony Walsh plan to open La Cervecería Astilleros, a Mexican-influenced micro-brewery, in August, but hiring staff hasn’t been easy.

Walsh says they placed an ad on Craigslist and heard from people who said they’ll pass on working for $15 to $20 an hour and collect the $500 a week from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) instead.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit may be a disincentive for some employees to return to the job
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit may be a disincentive for some employees to return to the job

“We got quite a few positive responses; we’re gonna bring in about 10 people for interviews,” Walsh said.

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“There was a bit of backlash arguing, ‘You know what, I can make more money on CERB.’ That just came as a bit of a surprise to us.”

Muriel Protzer, senior policy analyst with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says the CERB system needs to be more like employment insurance (EI) benefits.

Federal government extends CERB by 8 weeks
Federal government extends CERB by 8 weeks

“This will ensure that those who are collecting the benefit are people who desperately and genuinely need this,” she said.

Read more: CERB may discourage people from returning to work, B.C. businesses say

The organization says the federal government is looking to introduce new guidelines, which would include an end to benefits if an employee is called back, and a requirement that people receiving funds be available and looking for work, as is the case with EI.

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“Moving forward with our bill would give us further measures to encourage people and to make sure that people were taking work when it came up,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week.

“We’re still looking at ways of moving forward to encourage people to look for work and to make sure that they are taking jobs that become available.”

Despite the hiring challenges, Doyle and Walsh are hopeful they’ll find staff in the coming weeks.

— With files from Nadia Stewart