Green Party highlights the need for compassion in the repayment of emergency relief benefits

OTTAWA - Today, Green Party of Canada MPs have sent a letter to National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier calling on her to ensure that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) takes a compassionate approach to any repayments it is seeking from people who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in error. 

In the past two weeks, some CERB recipients have received notices from the CRA informing them that they were ineligible for the benefit. Those recipients are now being asked to repay the full amount of any CERB payments they have received by December 31. This may amount to a repayment of up to $14,000 in some cases. 

"It's clear that mixed messages were received regarding CERB eligibility," said Paul Manly (MP,  Nanaimo-Ladysmith). "I've heard from distressed constituents who have no hope of paying back the amount that the CRA is demanding from them. They believed they were eligible, applied in good faith to the program, and they were approved. These notices demanding immediate repayment have left them fearful and overwhelmed."

On December 3, the Canadian Mental Health Association reported declining mental health among Canadians due to the pandemic. One in 10 Canadians reports having suicidal thoughts, up from one in 40 Canadians as reported in pre-pandemic statistics from 2016. 

“Many are struggling to cope in this second wave, and each passing week presents new challenges as we seek to come through this pandemic together,” said Jenica Atwin, (MP,  for Fredericton). “Many Canadians are about to enter what will be a quiet and lonely holiday season, and these demands for repayment from the CRA have only added to the anxiety and stress they are experiencing” . 

“The Green Party supported government actions last spring to quickly get relief funding into the hands of people in Canada, and it is important that we support them to the very end of the pandemic. We are therefore asking the government to carefully consider the impact and timing of its collections efforts,” said Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada. “The last thing the government should be doing is surprising people with bills right now. I am certain that all Members of Parliament will be willing to work with the Minister in a cross-partisan manner to ensure there is a more compassionate approach.”

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Rosie Emery

Press Secretary