cerb overpayment

People in Canada are very confused about their CERB and EI payments right now

As people in Canada start to notice the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) being deposited into their bank accounts, many are finding themselves confused about the amounts — and even worried about potential overpayment.

Most residents who have applied to the new federal benefit after being laid off or otherwise losing out on work due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been impressed by how quickly the government has sent them funds to keep the population afloat in this uncertain time.

But many are saying  they've actually received more than they expected to through multiple transactions. The fact that citizens are also getting their GST cheques via mail or direct deposit around this time has made things even messier.

Eligible Canadians are due to get $500 per week for up to four months through CERB, but some were puzzled by the application criteria and process, especially if they had already applied for Employment Insurance before the new benefit was announced.

The Canada Revenue Agency assured the public that all EI and sickness benefit applications made after March 14 were automatically being switched to the CERB program.

But some people are still seeing separate payments for both EI and CERB in their transaction history — which one savvy Toronto-area resident noted in a very helpful social media thread is, in fact, a mistake, meaning the CRA will be asking for the extra money back. Some who are in this scenario are already sending amounts back to the CRA.

Recipients may have also gotten retroactive payments for weeks of work missed due to COVID-19 last month — $2,000 for April, and an additional $500 per week for March for those receiving CERB through EI.

It is noteworthy that all money received from either will be taxed next season.

Quebec MP and Treasury Board President Jean- Yves Duclos clarified in a press conference that the first CERB four-week period ends on April 11, after which a second starts. This means that some Canadians may have received $2,000 for the first period, and another $2,000 prospectively for the second period.

Duclos asked that residents budget accordingly, keeping in mind that they won't be receiving more federal funds for another month.

"Everyone needs to manage his or her budget on the understanding that it's $2,000 per month, regardless of when that $2,000 is actually deposited."

Essentially, if you feel like you may have been overpayed and the math doesn't seem to add up, there is a chance you were, and the safest bet is to contact the CRA and leave the extra money untouched.

Those receiving EI or CERB through EI will still need to continue to keep up with their bi-weekly EI reporting.

Though the whole situation is a bit perplexing, we're definitely fortunate to have a government that is willing to supply a realistic amount of money to individual Canadians who have lost their jobs because of the novel coronavirus.

Lead photo by

Kelly Sikkema/Pixabay

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