Thousands of Canadians still have to repay their wrongfully received CERB
Still $1.2 billion short, says Canada Revenue Agency document.
Thousands of Canadians who received federal aid during the pandemic without being there in reality have still not repaid this amount.
Among these aids are the $2,000 received per month under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).
Last May, the Canada Revenue Agency sent a notice to 260,000 Canadians across the country telling them that they had received assistance that they should not have received and therefore should repay it.
Yet in September only 19,000 people, or less than a tenth of the citizens concerned, repaid the sum, according to a document which was submitted to the House of Commons more early this week.
Thus, nearly $16 million has been reimbursed, but $1.2 billion is still missing, according to this document.
Ron Anicich, a sound engineer from Toronto, received a notice to reimburse the money he received as part of the CERB. He says he panicked because he thought he was eligible for it.
I'm sure I would have been homeless if I hadn't had access to the [CERB] during this period, he says.
Assistance programs like the CERB were based on certificates provided by applicants. Applicants had to determine for themselves whether they were eligible based on given criteria.
The government then promised that people who applied in good faith would not would not be penalized if they made a mistake in their declaration regarding their eligibility. However, they would have to refund the money received in error.
The CRA clarifies that there is no fixed timeline for this reimbursement and that the agency is committed to remaining flexible.
Ron Anicich is far from sure he can repay the money quickly.
It's a huge debt. I have absolutely no way to pay for it and I don't see how I will be able to in the near future. Frankly, it depresses me, he says.
The CRA says, however, that before the agency sent its notice to those affected, 341,000 Canadians had already repaid nearly $910 million on their own that they should not have received.
NDP finance critic Daniel Blaikie insists the federal government should have taken a closer look at the demographics of the 260,000 Canadians who still owe money. For him, we should determine if some of them have low incomes and cancel their debt.
It is not known which part of the debt is really recoverable. Because people making less than $20,000 or $24,000 a year in our current economy don't have the money to pay back the government, says Daniel Blaikie.
He adds that the government should focus on finding fraudsters who have taken advantage of federal aid.
Tory MP Kelly McCauley acknowledges that people who have received money wrongly have to pay it back, but it remains open as to the timing.
I want this taxpayer money that was returned by mistake to be returned, whether tomorrow, in a month or in six months, he explains.
If he recognizes the urgency of putting in place the aid measures during the pandemic , he criticizes the Liberals for not using this experience to create safeguards for future programs.
With information from Darren Major< /em>