OTTAWA -- The federal government announced it will extend the Canada Recovery Benefit eligibility period by an additional 12 weeks, as some recipients face a cut-off by end of March.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said Friday that Ottawa will prolong the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by the same amount.

"This crisis isn’t over, and neither is our support for everyone," he said during a press conference.

While the CRB and the CRCB were set to be in place until the fall, recipients can only claim the benefits for up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021. If an individual had been using the program since its launch, their support would tap out by the end of March.

The feds will also extend the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from two weeks to a total of four weeks and broaden the claimant period for employment insurance from 26 weeks to 50 weeks.

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough told reporters on Friday that extending the programs would cost the government approximately $12.1 billion -- $6.7 billion to stretch the recovery benefits and $5.4 billion for the changes to employment insurance.

She noted the employment insurance announcement is contingent on passing new legislation and with that, the support of opposition parties.

"When we worked together in the past, we delivered key supports to help millions of workers. Canadians expect the same of all parties again," said Qualtrough.

She also made a call-out to provinces to "do their part" to support workers as Canadians weather the second wave.

"Provinces still really have a leading role to play in supporting workers, not to duplicate our efforts, but to compliment, you know we've got good examples in B.C. and Yukon and I would just urge provinces to kind of step up for workers and do their part like some of their colleagues have."

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), which had been raising the alarm about a nearing expiration date of government supports, says it welcomes the news.

"This will come as very good news for the millions of Canadians who still don’t have a job they can go back to and who were growing concerned about how they would pay their bills once their benefits ended next month," said CLC President Hassan Yussuff in a press release.

The CRB is an iteration of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, sunsetted in the fall. It provides $1,000 per two-week period and applies to those who lost their job due to COVID-19 or saw a 50 per cent reduction in average weekly income compared to the previous year.

The CRCB meanwhile provides $500 per week to those caring for family members – elders or children under 12 years old – because of COVID-19 and are therefore unable to work at least 50 per cent of their scheduled hours.

The CRSB is another $500 per week support that aims to help those unable to work 50 per cent of their work week because they are self-isolating due to contracting COVID-19 or being exposed to the virus.

As of Feb. 14, the number of Canadians who have applied to the three benefits above are as follows:

  • CRB: 1,715,090
  • CRCB: 333,760
  • CRSB: 392,280