Kenora MP Eric Melillo says the opposition Conservatives are still lobbying for changes to the CERB, in an effort to get employees back to work.

His comments come as merchants report trouble finding staff to work shifts, as the local economy moves to reopen.

"Absolutely, and that's why we brought forward our back-to-work bonus," Melillo said yesterday.

Those put out of work by the pandemic are eligible for a monthly benefit of $2,000. However, as he announced an extension of the benefit payment during the pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also warned of penalties for those who abuse it.

The federal Conservatives are suggesting those returning to work can earn up to $5,000 in a month under the CERB, as the economy reopens. The current rules allow workers to earn up to $1,000. Under the Tory proposal, workers who make between $1,000 and $5,000 per month would qualify for the Back to Work Bonus, which is a CERB top-up that would be gradually phased out (by 50 cents for every extra dollar earned over $1,000).

At its height, the CERB paid out $17-billion a month, when 8 million people were on it. Numbers have declined as 1.2-million recipients returned to work -- or went back on payrolls -- with help of the federal wage subsidy program.

Melillo says the federal government's financial update provided plenty of incentive for getting the country back to work, including a debt to GDP ratio of 49 per cent.

For more information:

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

Backgrounder – Back To Work Bonus