A program designed to find work for Canberrans ineligible for federal government assistance during the coronavirus pandemic should be extended while the economy recovers, a union says.
United Voice ACT spokeswoman Lyndal Ryan said the ACT government's Jobs for Canberrans program could be targeted in the territory after the federal government's JobKeeper program ends this weekend.
The program is currently funded until June 30, and cabinet would need to consider an extension.
More than 400 people are still working in the ACT public service as part of the program, but their jobs are not guaranteed beyond the end of the financial year.
Fifty-seven employees have moved on to other roles in the service and will remain employed beyond the end of the program, an ACT government spokeswoman said.
Ms Ryan said it was one of the ACT government's best responses to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted shutdowns to preserve public health that caused thousands to be put of work.
"[The program] helped recognise that there were a large number of people in our community who weren't going to be entitled to JobKeeper of JobSeeker," Ms Ryan said.
"Those people were given priority, but there's still other people who have benefited from that program and should stay in that program until their industries recover."
The Jobs for Canberrans program began in April 2020 and created 570 new roles in the ACT public service.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced an expansion to the program in June last year, when it grew from 100 roles to nearly 500.
"By supporting more Canberrans through employment, we are providing a direct cash support to struggling households who are also able to make a significant contribution to our community," Mr Barr said at the time.
"This will lead to more money being spent in our local economy, helping to drive the economic recovery."
About $4.6 million a week is set to disappear from the ACT economy when the JobKeeper program ends on Sunday, according to an analysis commissioned by Labor.
Treasury secretary Dr Steven Kennedy told Senate estimates on Wednesday he expected between 100,000 and 150,000 currently receiving the JobKeeper subsidy to lose their jobs.
"We expect the unemployment rate to have peaked and will continue that downward trajectory even if there is a bump or two in the next month or so," Dr Kennedy said.
In April and May last year, nearly a third of Canberra's private sector relied on JobKeeper. Around 2900 businesses and 10,000 workers in the ACT still relied on the payment in January, the latest Treasury data shows.
Ms Ryan said workers in service industries would have to live with the uncertainty of future lockdowns and sudden job losses for a considerable period.
"You're almost one outbreak away from disaster," she said.
"I think one of the other things we learnt from the pandemic is that even places that had long periods of time without any outbreaks suddenly some mishap in quarantine, something going wrong in an airport, some community transmission that occurs, it can cause a real backwards slump."
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