Government Help for Canadian Workers, the Media, and Indigenous Communities

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The Canadian government's daily COVID-19 briefings, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on Wednesday (March 25) focused on a new financial lifeline for the unemployed, support for media outlets, and for Indigenous communities.

After Canada passed an $82 billion stimulus package to offset the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the federal government unveiled a new Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

 The lifeline will be $2000 paid per-month, for four months, and will be directed at wage earners or contract workers who are out of work, or about to lose their job, or unable to cover their living expenses, including their rent or mortgage payments, due to the coronavirus outbreak — and do not qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI).

"If you've lost your job because of COVID-19, whether you are full-time, contract or self-employed, this new benefit will there for you. If you're sick or quarantined, looking after someone sick, or at home taking care of your kids, it's there for you. And even if you're still employed, but not receiving income because of this crisis, the CRB is there for you," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during his daily press briefing from Ottawa that was widely televised or streaming online.

Trudeau added an application portal for the new benefit should open "as quickly as possible," and people should receive their first payment around 10 days after applying.

The government said it aims to have the new Emergency Response Benefit application portal up by April 6, though it did not confirm the exact date of operation.

The Emergency Response Benefit, to be backdated to March 15, is a combination of two COVID-19 relief funds -- Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit - that were first unveiled last week. 

"I know people are worried about delays, families are worried about when they will get help," the prime minister said, before adding government workers, also beset by anxiety over the COVID-19 outbreak, were working to get the Emergency Response Benefit application portal and available claims paid to Canadians as soon as possible. 

Trudeau also said government workers from other departments were being pressed into processing the claims expected for the Emergency Response Benefit.

Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, during the daily briefing discussed his government's $305 million in emergency support for indigenous peoples across the country, and in particular for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.  "This is just the beginning. We know more support is needed. We will be here to ensure no indigenous community is left behind," he said.

To help Canadian media outlets seeing advertising revenues fall during the COVID-19 outbreak, Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault said his government will direct $30 million for a coronavirus awareness campaign to Canadian media, whether in TV, magazines, newspapers or online. "The revenues generated by this campaign can breathe new life into our media," Guilbeault said during the daily briefing. 

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