Shomporko Desk:-When Erin O’Brien opened up her email last week, she was shocked to find a notice from the federal government informing her that she would not receive her Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payment the following week.
The Ottawa mother said the email explained that she was receiving the smaller amount in June because she was given a $2,000 advance when she collected her first CERB payment in April.
O’Brien is far from alone in her surprise at the sudden reduction in CERB payments this month.
Kimberly Drew said she will only be receiving $500 this month, instead of the $2,000 she was expecting because of the advance payment she collected in April.
“It was not explained well when the payment came out so it was a bit of a shock,” she said. “I am frustrated.”
Ashley Michnowski, the director of communications for Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough, explained that CERB was initially intended to be available for a total of 16 weeks to a maximum of $8,000 before the extension.
Because those Canadians who were eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) received an extra $2,000 when the CERB benefit began, they had reached their maximum payable amount in June.
The minister’s office said eligible CERB claimants will receive money again at the beginning of July at the start of the next pay period now that the benefit has been extended for an additional eight weeks.
“In order to ensure claimants receive the available funding through the extension of CERB, they should continue to complete their biweekly reports,” the statement said.
There was some initial confusion when the CERB benefit was first rolled out in April because some claimants received more money than others.
For example, some people who applied for both employment insurance (EI) and CERB received two payments, even though no one is eligible to receive payments from both programs simultaneously.
As another example, those who were already on EI may have also received more than the initial $2,000 CERB payment when they were switched over to the new program because of residual EI benefits they had already qualified for.
At the time, Qualtrough reassured Canadians the additional deposits were not mistakes and recipients would be contacted about the next steps.
“The CRA and Service Canada are working together to ensure that these situations are reconciled and payments do not exceed the maximum amount allowed per individual of $8,000 over a 16-week period,” she said in early April.
A spokesperson from Qualtrough’s office clarified later that week that individuals who received $4,000 collectively from both the EI and CERB program would be contacted.
Conservative employment critic MP Dan Albas said the confusion and panic some Canadians are experiencing now could have been avoided if they were told what the $2,000 advance was for when they first received it.
“We recognize that during a crisis things happen quickly, but it’s really up to the government to provide clear, concise, and consistent direction,” he told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview on Wednesday.
Albas said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had multiple opportunities during his daily press briefings to bring Canadians up to speed on this issue and to let those people who received extra payments know what is expected of them.
Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jesse Johnston
News source: CTVNews