CERB Repayment Letters: A Very Murky Christmas to Everyone

Hello, Canadians! We imagine you’re here because you got one of these dreaded “let’s claw back your benefits for Christmas” letters from the CRA, ie The Taxman (we’re not being sexist: that’s just what it’s called, It’s The Law). These letters informed people who’d received the CERB government covid pandemic supports that they may not be eligible, and that they had to prove their eligibility and/or repay their CERB benefits…

by January 1, 2021.

Here’s a copy of the letter, via CBC:

We have good news, bad news, and more good news. And then some even gooder news.

First of all, if it’s any consolation, Justin Trudeau is even madder at the CRA than you are right now. Before those letters went out he was pretty much unbeatable in the polls, and now all of a sudden he looks like The Princeling Who Stole Christmas. If capital punishment weren’t against every fiber of his Neoliberal being, he’d be looking to kill the author of that letter.

They may even get a stern talking to.

Don’t be silly, nobody EVER gets fired in Ottawa

People who are still receiving the CRB (successor to the CERB) may be in even worse straits, as not only do they have to provide the requested documentation and/or repay their benefits, which can total about $15,000 to date. No.

Not just that, while they are still clearly out of work because of the ongoing (in fact, worsening) pandemic. No indeed, their benefits have also been frozen, effective immediately, and will remain frozen until CRA has had time to review and approve their documentation, which they say can take up to four weeks. And the online message claims that you can only fax in the documentation, while none of the free online faxing services recommended by CRA will fax that many documents for free. And if you have no income, you likely don’t have the money just sitting around waiting to be eaten up by faxing.

That’s a full month without any source of income, over the holiday season. Thanks, CRA.

Depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to get on welfare within four weeks of applying. Here in Ontario, they can generally approve you quickly enough that you won’t have to, say, go without food or heat. In BC, however, we’ve heard of standard wait times of up to 90 days after the date of application; your mileage may vary, and we hope that it does.

So that’s it for the initial good news and the bad news. Now for the OTHER good news:

While the online message that CRB recipients got tells them they can only submit documents via fax, a friend of OpCovid19 phoned and found out that, as long as you call them first, you can in fact submit documents by uploading to the web or by actual postal mail.

And the even gooder news?

While you do have to supply the CRA with the documentation they demand, according to Trudeau you do NOT have to repay a cent by January 1. And according to a welfare worker we spoke to, you will be able to get back on CRB after applying for and receiving welfare without difficulty and without additional tax burdens. And that’s pretty fucking good news.

As per usual, when the government tries to bully you, the most effective counter-measure is to throw paper at it. We recommend gathering and submitting your documentation as soon as possible, particularly if your CRB is frozen. There’s a backlog of documents waiting for reviewers right now at CRA, and you don’t want any of the delay in getting your income stream back to be your fault.

Good luck pushing back on the government, and happy (insofar as they can be) holidays! And remember, 2020 is almost over!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. raincoaster says:

    Reblogged this on raincoaster and commented:

    A little clarity on those dreaded CERB repayment letters from #OpCovid19.


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