CANADA POLITICS Nearly 100,000 students will receive a break in CERB...

Nearly 100,000 students will receive a break in CERB payments


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Nearly 100,000 students who have been asked to return CERB benefits they claimed during the COVID-19 pandemic may soon be taking a break.

Under a council order, passed quietly earlier this month, students will be able to deduct the amount they could raise through the COVID Student Assistance Program from the amount of CERB benefits they are being asked to pay.

Carla Qualtrow, Minister for Employment, Workforce Development and Disability, said the government realized as it tracked benefit payments it made during the pandemic that many students receiving benefits under the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) actually had to apply for benefits. another program is Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

While the CERB program provided benefits to workers who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CESB was designed to help students who were unable to find work in the first place due to the pandemic.

In some cases, students were told they owed thousands of dollars in CERB payments they received, but it was too late to apply for student benefits.

The leniency order, passed by the Cabinet on June 2, aims to address what Qualtrow calls “inequalities.”

“If we determine that you owe money to CERB, you can tell yourself that if I knew I was not eligible for CERB, I would apply for student benefits because I know I am eligible for it,” Qualtrow said this in an interview with CBC News. “You are the person we are going to help with this. You are the person for whom we are correcting this disparity.”

Qualtrow estimates that the move could help approximately 98,000 students.

No other remission orders in progress: Qualtrough

While CERB’s payments were $2,000 per month, the student benefits program was paying out $1,250 per month, Qualtrow said. She said that this amount could now be used to reduce the amount of money some students are being asked to return.

“It does greatly offset any amount that people will have to pay toward CERB repayments.”

When the government first cabled its plans to fix the problem in the fiscal forecast last December, it budgeted $67.9 million for debt relief.

Qualtrow said the exemption order was delayed in part because the government suspended collection of CERB overpayments due to Omicron’s COVID-19 wave.

“Because of Omicron, we decided not to actively engage in CERB debt at that point,” Qualtrow explained. “So now that we’re back to where we’re making sure people let them know they might owe CERB, now we can implement that clemency order at the same time.”

See: Assistance along the way for students asked to return CERB money:

Travel Assistance for Students Asked to Refund CERB Money

Carla Qualtrow, Secretary of Employment, Job Development and Disability Inclusion, explains the new exemption process to help students who are being asked to pay off CERB benefits.

To qualify for an exemption order, a student must have applied for CERB no later than September 30, 2020 and not be receiving concurrent benefits such as CESB, unemployment insurance or provincial child care benefits, or maternity leave. They must also meet one of three criteria: they are unable to work due to COVID-19; they were looking for work; they worked and earned $1,000 or less before taxes during the four-week CESB period they could apply for.

Canada Revenue Agency set up a website stating the terms of the release order and referring to Application form.

CBC News asked the CRA if they inform students about the release order when they send out redemption notices. Spokesperson Christopher Doody says the CRA does not mention the potential break for students in its redemption notices because it “does not have the ability to identify individuals who would be eligible for release under a release order.”

If a student has already paid the CERB benefits they received, Qualtrow said they will be refunded the difference.

Qualtrow said the government has no plans for any other clemency orders at this time.

While the government is notifying some CERB recipients that they must pay benefits, Qualtrow said the government is “desperate to make this as painless as possible for people” and allow them to make payments over months or even years.

“We’re really trying to be as flexible as possible, trying to make sure that… it doesn’t affect anyone’s ability to pay their bills,” Qualtrow said, adding that most people have applied for CERB benefits in good faith. thinking they are eligible for CERB.

Financial crisis

Taylan McCree-Yu, director of strategy for the Canadian Federation of Students, said his group is happy to help students but thinks the government needs to go further.

“COVID and the cost-of-living crisis, as well as rising tuition fees, have forced some students to choose between paying off additional loans, meeting basic needs, and academic achievement.”

Joanna Clark is one of the former students who received a compensation letter from the CRA in May. She first applied for employment insurance but received CERB benefits instead. Now the elementary school teacher is being asked to return the $2,000 she doesn’t have.

Clarke said the government did not notify her of the pardon. She hopes she’s up to it.

“If it means I don’t have to pay back $2,000, that would make a huge difference.”

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