The Canada Revenue Agency says it wants its money back from anyone who mistakenly got double Canada Emergency Response Benefit payments.
Canadians could apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) or through Service Canada, but not both.
Anyone who applied through both avenues may have received duplicate CERB payments for a single time period, said Sylvie Branch, media relations spokesperson for the CRA. The agency has begun contacting individuals who need to repay.
“The vast majority of Canadians are honest and they voluntarily pay back amounts claimed in error,” Branch told Daily Hive. “The CRA is sensitive to the hardship of Canadians still facing the financial impacts of COVID-19.”
The application process for CERB was based on Canadians attesting to the information they provided, similar to the process for filing taxes. The CRA can verify this information at the time of filing or at a later date, Branch said.
The agency has expanded payment arrangement parameters to give Canadians more time and flexibility to repay based on their individual ability, Branch said. The agency paused its collection activities in response to the pandemic, but is in the process of resuming them.
If someone is unable to repay when they’re contacted to do so, Branch says the agency will evaluate the situation, and follow up at a later date for any changes in financial circumstances.
“Canadians who applied for the CERB in good faith, and later determined they were ineligible will be required to pay money back without penalties or interest,” Branch said. “For situations when an individual has the capacity to pay and refuses to reach a mutually acceptable payment arrangement, the CRA may take legal action.”
At the onset of the pandemic, the CRA mobilized their operations to quickly deliver emergency benefit payments to Canadians facing unemployment. Thus was born the CERB program, which provided eligible Canadians with $2,000 per month for up 28 weeks.
The last pay period for CERB ended on September 26, but the program has been replaced by new benefits, including the Canada Recovery Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.