Canada already paying unemployed citizens $2,000 per month for coronavirus relief

United States considering similar measure

File photo. (WJXT Channel 4)

The Emergency Money for the People Act introduced by two U.S. House Democrats would issue monthly payments of $2,000 to individuals and families for six months or until the U.S. economy recovers from the coronavirus outbreak.

Lawmakers have remained mostly hush on the topic as the bill gains some support with taxpayers, but is this legislation actually feasible for a country to attempt?

Well, Canada is already doing a version of it.

Parliament adopted the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) last week.

CERB gives $2,000 a month for the next four months for people who lost their job because of COVID-19. It would apply to people who are quarantined, helping a sick family member, have been laid off or have not received payment from their employer. To qualify Canadians must meet the following criteria:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who has stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019, and October 3, 2020;
  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months before the date of their application; and,
  • Who have not quit their job voluntarily.

There are differences between CERB and The Emergency Money for the People Act. The Emergency Money for the People Act, introduced by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., would not require citizens to be unemployed to receive payment and applicants would have to be 16 years or older to be eligible.

Below are the criteria for people who would qualify for the Emergency Money for the People Act :

  • Every American adult age 16 and older making less than $130,000 annually would receive at least $2,000 per month.
  • Married couples earning less than $260,000 would receive at least $4,000 per month.
  • Qualifying families with children will receive an additional $500 per child – families will receive funds for up to three children.
  • For example, a married couple making under $260K with 3 kids would receive $5,500 per month.
  • Those who had no earnings, were unemployed, or are currently unemployed would also be eligible.
  • Those who were not eligible in 2019 or 2018 but would be eligible in 2020, could submit at least two consecutive months of paychecks to verify income eligibility.
  • The Emergency Money for the People Act also expands the program to millions more Americans who were excluded from the CARES cash rebates -- such as college students and adults with disabilities who are still claimed as a dependent. The individual will receive the payment and their parent or guardian will receive the dependent credit.

The Canadian government said citizens made nearly one million claims for unemployment benefits last week. Analysts estimate about 10% of Canada’s workforce has been laid off. The United States Department of Labor reported at the beginning of the month, the unemployment rate rose to 4.4% in its workforce.

More than 6 million Canadians have already applied for the COVID-19 emergency aid benefits in the past month, according to figures from the Employment Ministers Office.

Learn about the differences in American and Canadian governments here.