Canadians can begin applying for emergency income support benefits Monday, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is also working on ways to help people who aren't covered by the programs brought in so far, including students.
The Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) will give people who lose their source of income due to COVID-19 about $2,000 a month for 16 weeks.
Canadians who are eligible for employment insurance (EI) can apply for that coverage, and will receive CERB benefits for four months before the EI benefits kick in.
The public can start signing up for CERB as of 6 a.m. ET Monday, but Canadians are being asked to apply based on their birth month to avoid overloading the portal.
Applicants born in January through March can apply on April 6, the first day the portal opens. Those born April through June can apply April 7, those born in July through September on April 8 and Canadians with birth months October through December can sign up on April 9.
Trudeau said Canadians can expect to receive payments within three to five days via direct deposit, or within 10 days by mail.
Trudeau also conceded that there are gaps in the program, including for students. To be eligible, applicants must have been working and lost all income.
"This is an issue that we are very, very aware of, from modifications to the Canada summer job program, to looking at direct support for students," he said.
"We know that we need to do more for people as they come out of university and look for projects and ways of securing income this summer. That is something that we are very closely engaged and should have more to say in the coming days."
With the challenges of bringing temporary foreign workers who come to Canada to work on farms, Trudeau suggested students and others could help fill some of those roles.
Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said the government must find a way to enable people to qualify for the benefit, while still working reduced hours. He said the eligibility rules that say applicants must have no source of income effectively ban workers from putting in any hours.
"If they work and earn any money during the period when they've received the benefit, they lose the benefit altogether ... they're effectively banned from doing any amount of work," he said during a news conference on Sunday.
Poilievre suggested applicants should be able to keep the benefit while still working a certain number of hours.
New supplies set to arrive Monday
On Saturday, Trudeau announced that "millions" of surgical masks and other supplies are due to arrive in Canada Monday on a chartered cargo plane from China.
His announcement came as Minnesota-based manufacturing company 3M revealed that because of U.S. President Donald Trump invoking the Defense Production Act — which allows Washington to boost industrial production of critically needed goods — the company is under orders not to send American-made N95 masks to other countries, including Canada.
The prime minister said Saturday that he would not be seeking retaliatory measures or "measures that are punitive" against the United States.
"We know that it is in both of our interests to continue to work collaboratively and co-operatively," Trudeau said, adding that he would soon be speaking with Trump again.