FEDERAL NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Tuesday sent a clear message to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals: put an end to the CERB [Canada Emergency Response Benefit] clawbacks.
“In the middle of a second wave and leading into a holiday season where people won’t be able to gather with their families, Canadians are going through tough times. Canadians applied for the CERB in good faith to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads, and now the Liberals want to penalize over 440,000 families because the Liberals gave the wrong information. This is grossly unfair,” said Singh. “Meanwhile, they’re letting big corporations benefit from their wage subsidy while they pay billions in dividends to their rich shareholders. It’s clear whose side the Liberals are on. While they’re working for their wealthy friends, we’re fighting for you.”
The Liberals promised back in April that they wouldn’t unjustly penalize people who would apply in good faith for the CERB. They broke that promise by telling Canadians to pay back their CERB payments by the end of the month – because of the Liberals’ own mistake around net and gross income, Singh noted.
“The treatment devoted to big corporations by the Liberals instead of helping workers get through this pandemic is a clear indication of whose side this government is on. They are stating clearly that they’re not on the side of honest self-employed workers and artists who needed the CERB to pay their bills and make ends meet,” said former NDP MP Andrew Cash. “Instead of penalizing these workers in the middle of a second wave before the holiday season – due to the Liberals’ own mistake – they need to stop telling Canadians to repay the CERB they needed to get by.”
John Cosgrove, a self-employed artist, St John’s, Newfoundland, said: “When I received the letter from the CRA, it was like I had been thrown off a cliff. The letter said I didn’t qualify for the CERB even though I made over the qualified amount through arts grants in 2019. The funds from the CERB have really helped me get through the pandemic. It helped me get by during this difficult time when work as an artist has really changed. I have trouble sleeping at night because I just don’t know how I can pay this back. This shouldn’t have happened. I met all the criteria for eligibility for the CERB.”
The press conference can be viewed here.