Your COVID-19 Economic Check-Up
This edition of Btchcoin is guest edited by entrepreneur Sophie Gray.
Sophie is the founder of DiveThru, a guided journaling app created with mental health professionals to help users take charge of their mental wellbeing.She has been named Greatist’s 100 Most Influential People in Health & Wellness three years in a row. Her work has been featured in Cosmopolitan, People, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, and more.
Read our conversation about entrepreneurship at the bottom of this newsletter.
PM Throws a Lifeline to Hardest Hit Canadians…
By Erin Fiell
This COVID crisis is lasting a lot longer than most anticipated – particularly, the Canadian government. The virus and subsequent social distancing precautions have put enormous pressure on the thousands of jobless Canadians who aren’t sure when their next paycheck will come and, unfortunately, it looks like we won’t be out of the financial deep-end anytime soon.
To combat the financial strain on workers and businesses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced plans to extend the federal government’s wage subsidy program until the end of August. Initially set up in March to expire in the first week of June, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was established to assist those affected by COVID-19 by covering 75% of the first $58,700 of an employee’s salary for charities and small- and medium-sized businesses. Eligible employers will be able to rehire laid-off workers, prevent job losses, and better position themselves for when the world re-enters a state of (somewhat) normalcy.
Although the program – which has already received 132,481 applications – has been criticized for its slow implementation and strenuous application process, the August extension will let even more businesses take advantage of the program and allows the government to work out kinks in the system.
More details on the extension will be announced in the coming week – stay tuned for updates.
What you need to know about the Canada Emergency Student Benefit
By Ruhee Ismail-Teja
On April 22, Canada announced it would introduce a Canada Emergency Student Benefit, acknowledging that many students are unable to find work due to the pandemic. Students are now eligible to receive $1,250 per month, or $2,000 if they have dependents or a disability, every four weeks. The benefit will be released monthly from May 10 to August 29. You must apply separately for each month and all applications must be submitted before September 30, 2020.
To be eligible, you must:
Not have already applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or for employment insurance (EI);
Be a Canadian citizen, registered Indian, permanent resident, or protected person;
Be a student, currently enrolled or graduated since December 2019;
Be unable to work, can’t find work, or are earning $1,000 or less (before taxes).
International students do not qualify for the program, but they can apply for CERB if they meet the requirements. Applications are now open! Click here to start yours; it literally takes five minutes.
What else is the government doing for students?
Students who take on a volunteer position can earn up to $5,000 towards their fall tuition from the Canada Student Service Grant if they volunteer in a sector needing assistance due to the pandemic. The government also doubled the Canada Student Grant amounts. Full-time students can now access up to $6,000 and part-time students can access up to $3,600. Canada Student Loans limits have increased from a weekly maximum of $210 to $350. $291.6 million in additional funding is being allocated to extend scholarships, grants, and fellowships.
The federal government is creating an additional 76,000 jobs for young people on the frontlines of the pandemic and covering 100% of wages for students hired under the Canada Summer Jobs Program. Indigenous post-secondary students will receive $75.2 million in additional financial support.
Is this UBI’s moment?
By Nabeela Jivraj
In the wake of the federal government’s emergency response to COVID-19, there’s been a huge buzz around Universal Basic Income (UBI). Why not extend the CERB to everyone, all the time?
More people are getting on board with UBI for a variety of reasons. Some, like the federal New Democratic Party (NDP), have long advocated for UBI to ensure a basic quality of life for all Canadians and to address income inequality. UBI is also seen by some proponents as a way to counter the effects of automation and outsourcing that is making many professions obsolete. Even from a fiscally conservative standpoint, UBI is a fast way to get money in people’s hands and stimulate the economy (Murica’s “stimulus checks,” we see you).
With the introduction of UBI, more Thatcher-esque politicians might justify relinquishing public funding for other social security mechanisms. It’s also expensive and would require a substantial tax hike, so is it feasible?
The coronavirus response makes it seem like it could be, but some critics say that despite the broad appeal of UBI, it just wont happen. Past, and relatively small, UBI pilots indicated willingness to work went down, building a (rather weak) case against UBI on the grounds that it would build dependence on the government. More recently, Kathleen Wynne’s Ontario Basic Income Pilot (OBIP) trial showed positive health outcomes for people enrolled, even though it was cut short. The program helped to address food insecurity and increased choices available to people.
Over 50 senators have signed a letter to the PM calling for UBI. We’ll be waiting to see what happens next. What do you think: should UBI be the new normal?