In March, Canada's government passed its own stimulus package to help the economy during the coronavirus pandemic. The news that Canadians would receive $2,000 stimulus checks over four months shocked many Americans disappointed by the CARES Act passed by President Donald Trump and Congress in late March. The law only included a one-time direct payment of at least $1,200. While a $2,000 monthly payment sounds more generous than a one-time $1,200 payment, there are several differences between Ottawa's response to a slowing economy and Washington's.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau first unveiled a massive $27 billion COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to help individual Canadians and businesses. A week later, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the package would be doubled to $53 billion, or about $36.6 billion in U.S. dollars. At that time, over 1 million people signed up for unemployment benefits in a week. "That is a significant change because of the scale and the significance for people of these benefits," Morneau said of the doubled package, reports Reuters.
While there have been more than 2.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 120,000 deaths in the U.S., Canada only recently reached 100,000 cases. According to Johns Hopkins University data, just over 8,400 Canadians have died from complications of the virus. Canada has a much smaller population than the U.S., with an estimated 37.59 million residents. The current U.S. population is an estimated 328.2 million people. With those caveats in mind, here is a look at Canada's stimulus check program.
$2,000 in Canadian Dollars is not the same as U.S. Dollars
When comparing the CARES Act's Economic Impact Payment in the U.S. to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), it is important to note that the Canadian dollar (CAD) and U.S. dollar (USD) are not equal. As of June 22, $1 USD equals $1.35 CAD. This means $2,000 CAD equals about $1,480.55 USD. Canada's stimulus package also includes $2 billion in childcare benefits, which provides $300 per child. The U.S. CARES Act's payment provided $500 per dependant under 17.prevnext
Not all Canadians qualify
Not all Canadians qualify for the CERB. According to the government's portal, you must be a Canadian resident at least 15 years old; stopped working because of COVID-19-related reasons; are eligible for regular Employment Insurance or sickness benefits exhausted Employment Insurance regular benefits or fishing benefits between Dec. 29 and Oct. 3; earned at least $5,000 in the previous 12 months before applying; and did not voluntarily quit your job. You also have to show you did not earn more than $1,000 in employment income for 14 or more consecutive days within the four-week benefit period of the claim. Students who are not eligible can apply for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit.prevnext
You can apply for the CERB through October
The CERB application portal will be open through Oct. 3. Through April 15, almost 6 million Canadians applied for the benefits, reports Vice. You can also apply for the CERB to be extended to 24 weeks if you stopped working because of the coronavirus, are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits, or used up Employment Insurance fishing benefits between Dec. 29 and Oct. 3.prevnext
Canada launched other stimulus programs to help businesses and individuals out
The U.S. stimulus packages included several other programs to help businesses, as did Canada's. Parliament passed an emergency wade subsidy, which helps businesses keep staff on payroll, even while they are closed. The subsidy pays up to $847 weekly per employee for 12 weeks, reports Vice. Canada also launched Wellness Together Canada, a mental health app to help those struggling during self-isolation connect with mental health professionals on a wide range of issues. The Canadian Government's website also includes a portal outlining ways the stimulus efforts can help and are implemented.prevnext
Canada's unemployment rate reached a record high in May
Like the U.S. economy, Canada's has also taken a significant hit as businesses were forced to close due to the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, Statistics Canada reported that although the economy added 289,600 jobs in May, the unemployment rate jumped to 13.7%. This was due to an increased number of Canadians looking for work as businesses began to reopen. The rate was also a record, passing the 13.1% set in December 1982.prevnext
The U.S. federal unemployment benefit provided weekly payments
While the CARES Act only provided a one-time stimulus payment for qualifying Americans, it did include an additional weekly payment for the unemployed. Americans could apply for a $600 per week federal unemployment benefit, which expires on July 31. House Democrats extended it in their HEROES Act, which is unlikely to become law as Senate Republicans do not plan to take it up, to January 2021. Earlier this month, Larry Kudlow, one of President Donald Trump's economic advisors, said the administration was not in favor of extending it because it is a "disincentive."prev