April 7th, 2020
Letter to Minister Hussen regarding CERB access
Dear Minister Hussen,
I am writing to you today about issues regarding access to Canada Emergency Response Benefits (CERB) as well as access to the Employment Insurance funds.
My team and I have been hard at work reaching out to communities and individuals to make sure that they have access to, in many cases, life-saving funds so that they can afford food and shelter while they self isolate. While they are thankful that money has been put aside to help them, accessing these funds has had many barriers.
In many cases, we’ve heard of wait periods of up to 3 hours by phone. On top of that, many isolated communities have limited internet access, making online applications a pipedream. Even if they could access these funds, roughly two-thirds of families in my riding live in poverty, meaning that many constituents in northern Manitoba aren’t even eligible for these benefits.
These structural gaps mean that people most on the margins are at the most risk. Rather than means-testing benefits, which only increases delays, these funds should be sent to every person in Canada and then clawed back to those that didn’t need it during tax season. As the NDP has been saying for weeks, direct payment of $2,000 – with an additional $250 per child – to everyone in Canada would make sure that people who have been left behind by your government's announcements can get the help they need. Lives depend on it.
Please let me know what steps your government is taking to eliminate these barriers to ensure we are helping those that need it most.
MP Niki Ashton