The employment insurance section of the Government of Canada website is shown on a laptop in Toronto on April 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston

21% of Canadians worried about ‘losing the roof over their heads’ if CERB ends: poll

Just under half of Canadians feel that CERB should end regardless of the impact

One in five Canadians is worried about surviving without the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, a poll from Maru/Blue suggests.

The pollsters conducted an online poll of 1,420 randomly selected Canadian adults in mid-July to find out what worries respondents had about CERB and the federal deficit due to COVID-19.

The poll found that 21 per cent of people said that if they stopped receiving CERB, or any similar benefit, “they literally could lose the roof over their head.”

British Columbians were most likely to be worried about CERB being gone at 27 per cent, with Ontario at 22 per cent, Alberta and Atlantic Canada at 19 per cent, and Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec at 18 per cent.

The poll found that 59 per cent of people were more worried about surviving through the pandemic than the size of the federal deficit, which is projected to reach $343 billion.

The $2,000-per-month emergency benefit is currently scheduled to end at the end of August, with the wage subsidy program set to run through the end of 2020, in hopes that Canadians will move from CERB to the wage subsidy.

As of the the end of June, CERB was budgeted at $80 billion and has so far paid out $53.5 billion in benefits.

Just under half of Canadians – 48 per cent – believe CERB should be stopped regardless of the impact. That belief was most likely to hold sway in Quebec at 57 per cent, followed by Alberta at 52 per cent, with B.C. at 51 per cent.

The poll found that 70 per cent of Canadians feel like CERB, and other federal spending, was the correct way to respond to the pandemic, regardless of the costs.

However, 74 per cent said they were “deeply worried” about the federal deficit and how it will affect their taxes, while 76 per cent said they were worried about future federal debt affecting young people.

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