Don't 'double dip' on emergency COVID-19 funds, Trudeau warns Canadians
TORONTO -- When the COVID-19 pandemic put Canada in crisis mode, the federal government wanted to get emergency funds to Canadians as quickly as possible. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that “it is a situation that is complex."
Trudeau acknowledged some people could receive both Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), as well as the newly launched wage subsidy, which will pay up to 75 per cent of employees’ wages up to $847 a week.
Trudeau said if Canadians receive money that they are not supposed to they will have to pay it back.
“If you're getting both you should probably put one of them aside so you can pay that back so you don’t get overly challenged with that down the road,” Trudeau said.
Toronto Employment lawyer Howard Levitt of Levitt LLP said the government is handing out CERB “like it's candy.”
Levitt has concerns about the program and says there is potential for it to be abused.
“I know, as a fact, that there is abuse happening right now. Anything from making fraudulent claims to people going back to their employer and saying I’ll come back when you need me but I only want to make up to $1,000 every four weeks so I can still get the CERB,” Levitt said.
Levitt says when the government decides to open up the economy, he believes many employees will refuse to go back to work.
“Once they get used to staying home and getting $2,000 a month, good luck getting them back into the workforce at all,” Levitt said.
Trudeau said anyone who gets money they don't deserve will be found out.
“The government agencies have a clear record of who gets what. That will obviously help in sorting this out in the coming months,” Trudeau said.