CRA begins sending debt letters to those who received pandemic benefits while ineligible – CBC News

Canadians who received federal COVID-19 emergency benefits for which they weren’t eligible can expect a letter soon telling them to pay up.

empty storefronts

People walk past empty storefronts during lockdown in Toronto on Oct. 13, 2020. The Canada Revenue Agency is sending out repayment notices to people who received pandemic benefit payments while ineligible. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Canadians who received federal COVID-19 emergency benefits for which they weren’t eligible can expect a letter soon telling them to pay up.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced today that it is sending out “notices of redetermination” letting people know of debts owing on their CRA accounts.

During the pandemic, the federal government set up the $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit and later the Canada Recovery Benefit to help those who lost their jobs or saw their hours reduced significantly due to pandemic lockdowns.

The programs were based on an attestation; applicants themselves had to determine if they were eligible based on the criteria.

The CRA and Employment and Social Development Canada are now working to recover some of the money.

“The government has been clear throughout the pandemic that while there will not be any penalties, individuals will have to repay the emergency benefits for which they were not entitled,” says the CRA statement. 

The agency says anyone who receives one of these letters but believes they were eligible for these benefits is encouraged to contact the CRA to provide more details.

It added that flexible payment arrangements will be available and no interest or penalties will be applied to any repayments.

“We recognize that receiving this type of correspondence can be stressful and we remain committed to supporting Canadians,” reads the statement.

The new letters follow federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s warning in November that anyone who received a CERB advance payment of $2,000 in 2020 — but did not remain on CERB long enough to fully reconcile that payment — owes money to Ottawa.