Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Interactions Between Federal and Provincial Cash Transfer Programs: The Effect of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on Provincial Income Assistance Eligibility and Benefits

Petit, Gillian and Tedds, Lindsay M. (2021): Interactions Between Federal and Provincial Cash Transfer Programs: The Effect of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on Provincial Income Assistance Eligibility and Benefits.

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Abstract

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was a temporary cash transfer program for workers who had reduced earnings due to the COVID-19 pandemic over the period of March 15 and October 2, 2020. While the benefits of getting the CERB out the door as quickly as possible should not be understated, the speed with which the CERB was rolled out led to the program being implemented without clear objectives, the nature of the benefit not defined, and no time for detailed negotiations within and across governments as to how the CERB would be treated not only related to eligibility for other programs, but also the benefit levels delivered by these programs. There are three possible ways in which the CERB could be treated by these various programs: as an employment insurance benefit, as working income, or as a benefit payment. Each of these different ways of treating the CERB has different implications for eligibility and for the level of benefit from other government programs. The purpose of this chapter is to examine how the failure to provide a universal definition of the CERB led to it being treated differently, not only across governments, but also differently by various programs within a given government. We will show that what might have appeared to be a minor technical administrative oversight led to confusion by CERB beneficiaries who were also collecting other government benefits over program interaction effects that differed depending on which jurisdiction the CERB beneficiary lived.

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