The government made changes in the latest draft bill legislating fines and possible jail time for fraudulent Canada Emergency Response Benefit claims.
During his briefing this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced who gets punished for fake claims and who doesn’t. He clarifies that the government is aware that people may honestly make mistakes as they apply and some may purposely take advantage of the benefits.
Regarding honest mistakes, “people who mistakenly took both CERB and the wage subsidy because they weren’t sure what they were going to do and were really worried will simply have to pay back the one they shouldn’t have been taking.” Trudeau said.
He also mentioned the government is taking measures to track down those who have deliberately defraud the system. The draft bill outlines a series of offences such as: making false or misleading statements, failing to fully disclose all relevant income or receiving an income support payment for which a person is not eligible.
Violators will face up to $5,000 fine plus up to six months of jail time.
People may also face financial penalties for the following:
- fail to return to work when it is reasonable to do so and the employer makes a request for their return
- fail to resume self-employment when it is reasonable to do so
- Or decline a reasonable job offer when they are able to work
The PM says that the CERB application was purposely made as easy as possible without requiring several verifications to maximize the speed to reach millions of Canadians in need during this difficult time.
The CERB, a $60-billion program, is available until October 3, 2020. Those who have claimed it in March will not be receiving the benefit in July.