CERB Forgiveness

Tom Locke, Licensed Insolvency Trustee
June 2, 2021

Our office was advised by a CRA collector that the Federal Government is NOT pursuing collection of ANY CERB overpayments.  The government, apparently, has implemented a CERB Forgiveness progarmme. In other words, if you collected CERB while you were receiving other benefits, the only thing you will be required to pay is the taxes, plus penalties and interest.

It has been widely reported that some people were able to double dip on CERB payments, receiving benefits from both the CRA and Service Canada, in addition to regular social benefit payments such as ODSP or General Welfare.  Potentially the double dippers were bringing in close to $20,000.00 per month, per household, and now have no consequences.

This is quite an interesting backpedal by the Federal Government that initially wanted to be able to impose a fine and/or a term of imprisonment as well as a requirement to repay three times the amount received through duplicity plus taxes, interest, and penalties.  

Perhaps the forgiveness, which will not be opposed by other political parties, is the right thing to do, simply because the government always had control and the ability to regulate recipients to ensure they were properly qualified.  Hopefully, the government does not lean back on this “generous” act as a part of a vote buying campaign in any upcoming election.

Meanwhile, it seems, subject to any further updates, that if you received CERB when you should not have – there is no expectation that you repay it.  One must wonder if the Federal Government will be so generous to small businesses that have lost billions of dollars in revenues and have been forced to take on billions of dollars in CEBA (and other) debt in order to survive.