Nearly nine million Canadians applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to help with lost income due to the pandemic but the Canada Revenue Agency says some will have to give the money back because they weren’t actually eligible to get it.
A Calgary woman says she was wrongly put in that category — and is now fighting to keep the funding she says she desperately needs.
Jeanette Boyd is one of the one million Albertans who applied for the federal CERB benefit.
She says the money is helping her survive during the pandemic, which led to the cancellation of her contract selling life insurance.
So when a CRA letter arrived saying she would have to pay all $12,000 back, she figured it must be a mistake.
“It’s just been really frustrating, I don’t sleep, I’ve run out of my life savings,” she said.
Boyd was eventually able to prove that she does not have to pay back the CERB funds, but the CRA letter also cut her off from the replacement federal funding program, CRB.
She sent through paperwork to prove she is eligible, but weeks later she says the CRA told her its fax line had been down, even though Boyd explained she has a printed fax confirmation.
“He really went quiet, I knew it was just an excuse because they dropped the ball,” she said.
After weeks of calling, Boyd is still waiting for a resolution.
And after months of searching, Boyd is still trying to find work.
“I would do anything for a job right now, I’d rather be working than spending these hours and hours of nightmare on the phone with CRA,” she said.
Her government aid stopped about two months ago and can’t start again until the problem is fixed.
As bills pile up, Boyd waits with her paperwork to prove that she qualifies for assistance.
“The battle is worth it because we need accountability from our governments with this kind of spending,” she said.
“I just feel for those that aren’t as steadfast fighting the government. It breaks my heart because our governments are supposed to be there to help us.”
In December, the CRA sent out 441,000 letters to Canadians who might have to pay back their CERB.
CTV Calgary has reached out to the CRA and Service Canada but they did not provide answers.
Last month CRA said 995,000 CERB payments have already been repaid online.
Some people had mistakenly received the funding twice.