Central Albertan asked to repay CERB amount

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

Central Alberta’s Catherine Hayreceived a letter from the Government of Canada recently stating she had to repay the government. Photo submitted

Central Alberta’s Catherine Hayreceived a letter from the Government of Canada recently stating she had to repay the government. Photo submitted

A central Alberta woman is raising her voice to bring attention to what she is calling the CERB Crisis.

Catherine Hay, a hair designer who runs her own shop, is facing a difficult situation when it comes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

In November, Hay received a letter from the Government of Canada saying she had to repay the entire amount of the benefit given to her because she didn’t qualify.

Hay applied for the benefit last spring after phone discussions with those at the Government of Canada helping Canadians access the benefit. She says she was unsure if she qualified for the new benefit and wanted to make sure before she applied.

“Work was slow and I had just applied for a reverse mortgage, which I told them all about. They told me to apply anyway and if I didn’t meet the qualifications they would let me know,” Hay said.

“I believed Trudeau would help me out.”

According to the letter Hay was sent, she was required to repay the CERB payments by Dec. 31, 2020. However, like many others she has been out of work because of COVID-19 lockdowns.

According to Government of Canada’s website, one qualifies for CERB if they: are over the age of 15, stopped working because of COVID-19, had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 and have not quit their job voluntarily.

According to her taxes from 2019, Hays says she made the required minimum, she was out of work and because of government lockdowns, she is over the age of 15 and did not voluntarily leave her job.

“I am scared. I’m shutdown and I can’t pay this back.”

“They are targeting the average Canadian with this. Those that are low-income and are living pay cheque to pay cheque,” she said.

Hay is lobbying to federal government to address this problem.

She says she has spoken to someone with MP Earl Dreeshen’s office, spoken with Minister of National Revenue Diane Lebouthillier and has sent letters to Rachel Notely, Tara Veer and Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the federal NDP.

She is trying to get the federal government to not only address what she is calling a crisis, but also fix it, when members return at the end of January.

“I want Parliament to help those of us that are in this situation. There are 213,000 other Canadians in this same situation,” Hay said.

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