Compliance Alert: Federal Government Makes 4 Changes to CERB
The Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) has served as a lifeline for many employees who lost jobs as a result of COVID-19. But it has also engendered confusion and misunderstanding. So, now the federal government is fixing the program. Here’s a look at the 4 key changes, which are set out in Bill C-17, tabled by the Assembly on June 10.
1. 8-Week Extension
The CEWS was supposed to end on October 3, 2020. But on June 16, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the government will extend the program for 8 more weeks.
2. Two-Week Payments
The CERB is a $2,000 per month benefit originally payable in 4 $500 weekly installments. But starting July 5, CERB payments will be made every 2 weeks.
3. Clearer & Stricter Eligibility Criteria
One of the biggest problems with the CERB was that it generated misperceptions and gave employees an incentive to quit their jobs or turn down work. The new rules clarify that employees who decline a reasonable job offer or unreasonably fail to return to work when employers recall don’t qualify for CERB payments. Ditto for individuals who decline to return to self-employment when it’s reasonable to return.
4. New Penalties for False Claims
In response to widespread reports of abuse, the new rules provide for penalties of up to 3 times the CERB payment amount against employees that make false representations, fail to declare employment income or otherwise receive a CERB payment they know they’re not entitled to.