Surprise! On the eve of the holidays, he must repay $ 2,000 of PCU
Many Canadians have received or will soon receive very bad news in the mail. Those who were able to benefit from the CERB may not have known it, but many will have to repay their first payment of $2,000. And the note, for some, is coming now.
Vincent Desbiens, journalist for Quebec editions of Subway, is among those who received a collection letter from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in the past few days. Mr. Desbiens had to register for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in the first months of the pandemic. Like many Canadians, he received payments of $ 2,000 per month intended for people who lost their job or part of their salary for a reason related to the pandemic.
Yesterday he received the letter of complaint, of which Subway got a copy. The document reminds him that the first installment was a cash advance “to get you money as quickly as possible.” However, Mr. Desbiens did not make any requests other than for the periods for which he was indeed eligible for the program. Convinced of fraud, he called the CRA. The federal agency has confirmed that the letter is genuine. He will have to repay the first CERB installment within the next 10 days. Even a slice of $500 has already been deducted from an employment insurance payment.
“I wasn’t just surprised, I was on my ass. And furious,” he said in an interview with Subway. “It’s not so bad for a young person like me who doesn’t have too many family responsibilities yet. But for couples with children, $2,000 or even $4,000 to pay on the eve of the holidays is huge. This money is planned elsewhere at the moment.”
In the letter of claim, the CRA points out that it is possible to obtain a payment agreement. “We are aware that this is a very difficult time for many people,” the document read.
A little publicized modality
Vincent Desbiens regrets that this obligation to reimburse the PCU was not communicated earlier. On the site of Employment and Development Canada, which managed the program, there is a notice dated November 2021. The notice indicates that residents who received an overpayment were to receive “over the next few weeks” a communication from the government for this purpose. Further details were to follow in the following weeks.
However, Mr. Desbiens never received any communication from the government concerning the reimbursement of the CERB. Until notice of claim is sent. “It’s going to take a lot of people by surprise,” he said.
The November notice highlights that the claims currently being made affect only those who received benefits before June 14, 2020, as well as those who received less than 20 weeks of benefits. For the others, the initial $2,000 was spread over subsequent CERB payments.
Contacted by Subway, CRA media relations redirected us to a statement issued on May 10. This statement reiterates the reasons why the monies should be refunded. However, it does not specify why some people did not receive communication from the CRA as expected.
“The CRA and ESDC want to assure Canadians that they will continue to be supported when they call to discuss their unique situations. Our call center agents are able to work with them on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to their situation, including flexible payment arrangements,” the statement said.
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