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Courtenay-Alberni MP Johns calls for stop of CERB clawback

Minister responds no one will be required to repay CERB at this time
Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns wants the federal government to protect CERB payments. File photo

Member of Parliament Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni) called on the Liberal government on Wednesday to stop demanding repayment of CERB benefits from Canadians who were told they were eligible when the program was announced.

Johns told the virtual House of Commons about a self-employed home-based business owner in his riding, Jackie Ryan, who received the benefit after being assured by Canada Revenue Agency of her eligibility. The Port Alberni business operator had closed her business in response to public health warnings about the pandemic and successfully applied for an emergency CERB benefit.

“Jackie applied for the CERB because she was told she could and she used the help to pay bills and support her family because she did not qualify for any small business supports, said Mr. Johns. “The Liberals are now telling Jackie she needs to pay the CERB back.”

The NDP, Johns said, is fighting to ensure no one that needs help falls through the cracks and is urging the government to stop going after workers who were told they were eligible for the CERB and that gross income is the test for the $5,000 of income for CERB eligibility.

“Meanwhile, some rich corporations which received emergency wage subsidies have been paying out millions to their shareholders,” Johns told the Commons. “This government isn’t going after them so why is it going after Jackie and other Canadians who did nothing wrong while refusing to hold the ultra-wealthy accountable?”

In response to MP Johns’ question, Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough acknowledged it is a difficult time for Canadians and assured him that “no Canadians, including Jackie Ryan, will be required to make CERB repayments at this time.”

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