B.C. MP says government 'needs to own its error'
A British Columbia MP has presented a petition to Ottawa calling on the government to spare those who applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) benefit through no fault of their own.
“The government made an error and it needs to own that error,” said Paul Manly, Green Party member in B.C., on his website.
The petition ― which has 7,312 signatures ― notes that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) sent out letters to 441,000 Canadians who had received the CERB, warning that they may need to repay up to $14,000 due to ineligibility,
“The government introduced the CERB in a hurry. That was necessary under the circumstances, but it created a situation where eligibility requirements were sometimes unclear. This was particularly true for individuals who are self-employed,” said Manly.
“The government has acknowledged that both CERB eligibility guidelines and government advice failed to specify clearly that gross income for people who are self-employed meant gross income after deductions. Many low-income self-employed Canadians who applied for the CERB in good faith are facing large debts to the CRA as a result.”
This is unacceptable, he said.
“Canadians who applied for the CERB in good faith should not be penalized for eligibility errors or misguidance that occurred on the part of the government,” says the petition initiated by Sabrina Zimmermann from Port Alberni, B.C.
The petition asks that Ottawa “retroactively allow self-employed Canadians to use their gross pre-tax income before business expenses when determining their CERB eligibility.”
In October 2020, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) replaced the CERB.
An earlier petition on change.org ― which has since garnered more than 100,000 signatures ― also called for the CRA to stop requesting repayments “until further investigation on the misleading eligibility requirements stated on the online application has been undertaken.”
“CRA should admit there was an oversight when writing the application in haste, and forgive the self employed people who applied and met the eligibility requirements as stated on the application.”
The CRA recently started distributing T4A slips to those who received temporary emergency benefits from the government so they can file their taxes for 2020.