As the economy reopens, restaurant owner Pam Viinikka says she's having a difficult time finding staff. She says potential employees are preferring to stay home and collect the CERB, rather than go back to work.

"Yeah, it's a bit frustrating, I guess. I mean, if there's jobs out there, you would hope people would fill those positions," said Viinikka.

During his daily briefings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said those collecting benefits should be looking for work, the same as if they were on employment insurance, but Viinikka says this isn't always the case.

She recounted a parent saying their university-level student was taking the summer off. Viinikka said it was frustrating to hear people were taking the CERB, instead of working. 

"It's the first summer ever. We've always had oodles of applicants every summer. We've never really had trouble staffing in the summer. This year, it's been quite tricky," she said, noting she passed on a catering job, due to a lack of staff. 

The $2,000 a month Canada Emergency Response Benefit was introduced to help families meet their needs, at a time when they didn't have a pay-cheque due to the pandemic, Trudeau noted last month. However, those caught defrauding the system can face fines of up to $5,000, as well as twice the amount involved in the fraudulent claim.

Ottawa is expected to pay about $174 billion in benefits during the pandemic, including the CERB. The parliamentary budget officer released estimates yesterday saying a guaranteed basic income might cost between $47.5 billion and $98.1 billion for six months from October to March. They were costed out at replacing between 15 cents and 50 cents for every dollar of employment income earned.

While there are businesses along Kenora's Main Street reporting lost income -- as well as reports of potential closures -- there are other merchants who say they've been able to adapt and adjust to online and curbside sales.

For more information:

CERB top-up proposal wouldn't penalize workers, MP

CERB extended for eight weeks, Trudeau

CERB recipients should transition to workplace, Trudeau