Canadians must repay their first CERB check

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Des Canadians must repay their first CERB check

The Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) site

Canadians are starting to receive reimbursement notices from the Revenue income from Canada for their first Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) cheque.

In the spring of 2020, at the very beginning of the pandemic, the federal government distributed checks for $2,000 to people in precarious situations through the CERB.

However, for the past few weeks, some people who have received financial assistance from Ottawa have been receiving notices that they must repay the first $2,000 installment they received.

In reality, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) explains that this famous payment would have been only a cash advance and that the individuals who touched this money, but who were not eligible for it, will have to pay it back.

Vincent Desbiens owes $1500 to the Canadian government because he claimed the first installment of the PCU in the spring of 2020.

This is the case of journalist Vincent Desbiens who must repay 1500 of the $2000 he received at the start of the pandemic. If he does not have to repay the entire first check, it is because he was entitled to employment insurance.

“I was amazed when I heard that. »

— Vincent Desbiens, journalist for the Metro newspaper in Quebec

It's really a lot of money, especially these days with inflation, it's not not easy to find accommodation and all that, he mentioned.

Vincent Desbiens did not believe, when applying for the CERB, that he would one day have to reimburse part of the sum.

In my memories, in March 2020 , that was not really what had been discussed, or at least what we had heard in the media. It wasn't understood that way, but it sure had to be written somewhere in the fine print on the page when we agreed to ask for the PCU. It's just that it would have been a lot easier if they had made it clear from the start, says Mr. Desbiens.

He had 30 days to repay the requested amount. However, since the notice was filed on June 19 and he did not receive it until July 9, Vincent Desbiens only has 10 days to settle his debt to the CRA.

For people who are going to be taken by surprise, it's clear that it's never fun to have to pay $1,500 in the next 10 days, he points out .

The citizen also deplored the government's lack of transparency in the matter.

It is clear that it is a lack of transparency, at least in my opinion. You had to tell the base if you had to reimburse. Of course people would have paid more attention, he thinks.

According to Stéphane Leblanc, tax partner at Ernst and Young, the reimbursement of the CERB is quite amazing. However, it offers some details on the nature of this request.

It is really the people who made requests through Service Canada, therefore not through the CRA, when they went through employment insurance to make a first request for CERB, he specifies.

The tax expert also indicates that the sums requested by the Canadian government are sums which should not have initially ended up in the pockets of citizens.

< p class="e-p">I don't think people are penalized. These are sums to which they were probably not entitled. What people were entitled to, that's fine, they won it anyway, but if there was an additional amount paid, what I understand is this amount that must be reimbursed, explains Mr. . Leblanc.

Ernst and Young partner believes government should give taxpayers more time to pay off first CERB check.

Right now, those who can't pay their debt on time can call the CRA to make a payment arrangement. A way of doing things that leaves Stéphane Leblanc perplexed.

It increases the administrative burden, he believes.

Furthermore, Mr. Leblanc understands the incomprehension of some citizens. The government has not been clear enough, he says.

Conservative MP Luc Berthold criticizes the way the Trudeau government has proceeded in the file. According to him, few Canadians expected to have to repay the first CERB check they received.

We understand that people needed help when everything closed. But at the same time, I'm sure there aren't many Canadians who received that money who expected the government to ask them to repay those amounts two years later,” he said. , while specifying that he has already received several calls from confused citizens.

MP Luc Berthold believes that the Canadian government should give clear guidance on how to reimburse the CERB (archives).

What we are asking of the government is to be clear, precise and to present Canadians with a clear reimbursement plan, continues the representative of the county of Mégantic-L' Maple.

In the Bloc Québécois, we feel that things could have been done better. However, we understand the important issues with which the Canadian government had to deal with in the spring of 2020.

We understand [that the government] wanted to do things quickly. We agree that we were in crisis. At the Bloc, we were happy that things were moving quickly. On top of that, there was a good side, it was that it was done quickly. But the bad side is that it was quickly done, badly done. Indeed, there was a huge lack of clarity, in terms of communication, thinks the MP for Terrebonne, Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné.

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">MP Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné believes the Trudeau government could have done things better (archives).

For Ms. Sinclair-Desgagné , the government must be transparent, but also flexible. According to the Bloc MP, a 30-day deadline for reimbursement is too short.

It is believed that at least a few months, say by the end of the year. year, it would be more reasonable than 30 days in the middle of summer when we have the baskets of goods that keep increasing, inflation affects us, says Ms. Sinclair-Desgagné.

With information from Marie-Pier Mercier and Pascal Poinlane

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