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Nearly 40% of Saskatchewan’s workforce has received CERB

Nearly 40% of Saskatchewan’s workforce has received CERB
WATCH: New figures from the federal government illustrate just how many Canadians have received its emergency response funding, including a significant number of Saskatchewan workers.

The federal government is reporting more than 8.1 million Canadians have received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to supplement their lost income during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Saskatchewan alone accounted for more than 200,000 applications.

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“It’s staggering how many people this program is being delivered to and how many people seem to be looking for this kind of benefit and in need of this kind of benefit,” said University of Regina economics associate professor Jason Childs.

According to Statistics Canada, around 559,800 people were employed in the province in March.

Read more: More than 246K Manitobans receive CERB amid coronavirus pandemic, Statistics Canada says

Federal government data shows that as of June 28, it has received more than 214,000 unique CERB applications from Saskatchewan.

That accounts for around 38 per cent of the province’s entire workforce.

A University of Saskatchewan economist said these kinds of economic downturns have serious long-term effects

“I would expect federal government assistance to individuals to carry through until spring time. I’d expect provincial support for businesses to carry right through until spring time as well,” Joel Bruneau said.

Read more: ‘Having trouble getting staff’: Alberta stakeholders say CERB keeping workers at home

Childs points out that between CERB and the federal government’s wage subsidy, a lot of Canadians are receiving aid from Ottawa.

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“In the neighbourhood of half, slightly more than half of the Canadian labour force is being subsidized directly by the federal government and that’s just not sustainable over a long period of time,” he said.

Childs added this formula is harmful in the long run and no one has addressed how and when to end these programs.

Both economists agree that once businesses are fully open and more international trade takes place, Saskatchewan’s recovery will become easier.

Bruneau said Saskatchewan is one of the wealthiest provinces on a per capita basis and isn’t pessimistic about the province’s future.

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