Just because you don’t qualify for pandemic relief benefits doesn’t mean you can’t collect the money available, the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled, said The Blacklock reporter.
A Winnipeg man who made such a claim, even though he was ineligible, failed to reimburse the money, after the court accepted a remark from a spokesperson for the Department of Employment at Toronto Star as proof.
“When the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit program was implemented, there were no prescribed rules for the treatment of PKU received by Income Assistance recipients, “the court wrote, which noted that” provincial and territorial governments have adopted different approaches ”.
Nigel Cann, a freelance artist on welfare, called for pandemic relief for the unemployed. The court heard that Cann cashed a CERB check for $ 2,000, but only kept $ 740 after realizing his mistake and returned the balance to the Canada Revenue Agency.
On March 25, 2020, Parliament adopted the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit Act which offered $ 2,000 per month to unemployed “workers” who had lost income and “stopped working due to COVID-19.” The Manitoba Social Services Appeal Board deducted the $ 740 from Cann’s social assistance benefits.
Cann argued that his CERB check was a “liquid asset” that should not be considered income. The court agreed, citing an article from April 14, 2020 in the Toronto Star when the newspaper quoted Marielle Hossack, spokesperson for the Department of Employment, as saying that Canadians who already receive social assistance “are not penalized”.
“Our government believes that the PKU should be treated as exempt by the provinces and territories in the same way as the Canada Child Benefit (is) to ensure that vulnerable Canadians do not fall behind,” said Hossack.
The ECP is taxable, unlike the Canada Child Benefit.
“It was a one-time payment,” the Manitoba Court wrote. The pandemic relief did not have “the character of regularity” of income, he said.
A total of 278,360 Manitobans requested Emergency response benefit checks, although the province’s pre-pandemic workforce numbered only 682,700. Nationally, a total of 8,899,170 Canadians have requested CERB payments. The cost of the program initially budgeted at $ 24 billion rose to a total of $ 81.64 billion.
NDP MPs called for amnesty for ineligible claimants, including welfare recipients who had not lost wages.
“A lot of people have decided to take CERB because of the higher costs, for example, to keep their children home from school,” MP Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Center) told the Human Resources Committee of the House of Commons on December 10.
“We know that there are a number of children in care who have received CERB and are now mobilizing together to request CERB amnesty,” said MP Gazan.
British Columbia allowed social assistance recipients to collect ECP checks without penalty, while all other provinces had full or partial clawbacks.