$8,000 CRA CERB Increased to $12,000: Will It Become Permanent?

The federal government is extending the program by eight weeks more, although recipients are hoping for CERB to become permanent soon. Meanwhile, people can augment CERB by investing in the Canadian Utilities stock to create a lasting income. It will also lessen dependence on federal aid.

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Canadians started receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in March 2020. It was clear from the outset that CERB is temporary because the cash is for emergencies only. Similarly, the program has a time limit.

After four payment cycles, CERB is now a burning issue. The early recipients are about to max out their CERBs in July, but the circumstances of many did not change. COVID-19 is still around, so the federal government announced a program extension.

Given the delicate situation, is it better to make it permanent someday soon? But there is more than meets the eye. You have to weigh the pros and cons as well as the timing.

Pros

If ever CERB becomes permanent, the name is likely to change to UBI or universal basic income. The clamor of certain groups is for the government to roll out a UBI. They argue that such a program will ensure no Canadians will be marginalized.

The UBI proponents agree that CERB is a policy innovation. However, the group wants the Trudeau administration to take it a step further. By converting CERB into a universal basic income, there is social justice. No citizen will suffer from a lack of resources, mainly financial.

Cons

The federal government flatly rejects the proposal. According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the conversion is not simple. Besides, there are other pressing matters to consider. The colossal spending in various COVID-19 response programs is burdening the economy. Recovery should happen ahead of anything else.

But the UBI proposal has significant disadvantages. Studies show that when you pay people not to work, the majority tend to work less. The labour market participation rate will drop. In terms of cost, a UBI will cost around $80 billion annually.

Self-directed benefit

CERB or the proposed UBI have noble intentions. However, the programs could lead to over-dependence on government while encouraging laziness. The best thing to do is be productive and create a lasting income for you.

Why not save, invest, and maximize the use of your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) to build wealth? Canadian Utilities (TSX:CU) can be your source of passive come.

This $8.49 billion diversified utility company is paying a 5.62% dividend. Your $20,000 can produce $1,124 in tax-free income within your TFSA. Canadian Utilities is a cash generating machine. The company derives 86% of earnings from regulated sources, while 14% comes from long-term contracted assets.

Pandemic or not, cash from its regulated electric and gas distribution and transmission assets will keep flowing.  The core investments of Canadian Utilities are in electricity, pipelines & liquids and retail energy business. Canadian customers account for 94% of revenues, and the rest are from Australia and Latin America.

Never again will you be at the mercy of the federal government when a global epidemic or recession strikes. You have capital protection and a steady stream of investment income.

CERB extension

CERB won’t convert into a UBI anytime soon. However, the federal government saw it fit to extend the program for eight extra weeks or two months.

Hence, instead of 16 weeks, the $500 weekly payment will be up to 24 weeks. The program should calm the fears of Canadians who can’t go back or unable to work due to the pandemic.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Christopher Liew has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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