cerb fraud

The penalty for CERB fraud in Canada could be a fine or jail time

CERB fraud is real, and false claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit could result in a fine or even jail time, according to a draft bill obtained by the Globe and Mail.

The draft legislation states that the federal government is considering introducing penalties for Canadians that are guilty of an offence on their CERB application (e.g. making false or misleading statements, failing to fully disclose all relevant income).

Individuals found guilty of an offence could face up to $5,000 in fines, plus not more than double the amount of the income support payment "that was or would have been paid as a result of committing the offence."

Alternatively, offenders could face "both the fine and imprisonment for a term of not more than six months."

Under the new legislation, workers would also not be eligible for the CERB if they failed to return to work when it is reasonable to do so and the employer makes a request for their return.

Self-employed workers would no longer be eligible for the CERB if they failed to resume work when it was reasonable to do so, or declined a reasonable job offer when they are able to work.

The government is also considering allowing Canadians to apply to collect the CERB "for any period of four weeks falling within the period beginning on March 15, 2020 and ending on July 2020" in addition to claiming "any period of two weeks falling within the period beginning on July 5, 2020 and ending October 3, 2020."

The proposed two-week period of pay would allow the federal government to offer paid sick leave to Canadians who need to stay home and self-isolate if they were showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The news comes less than a week after the Canada Revenue Agency expanded their "snitch line" to accept tips on people that are fraudulently receiving the government's emergency benefit programs, including the CERB.

The CERB has paid out roughly $43 billion in benefits as of early June. The benefit provides taxable income support of $2,000 each month, and individuals can claim up to 16 weeks of funding.

The draft bill does not appear to change the timeframe of the CERB, and it seems unlikely that the federal government is planning to extend the program beyond 16 weeks.

Lead photo by

Liam Charmer

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