Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government plans to “clean up after the fact” if the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is distributed too widely.
Trudeau commented on a special committee on COVID-19 on Tuesday after Conservative MP Dan Albas repeatedly pressed the Prime Minister on issues first reported in a National Post article, which said officials were urged to continue processing claim payments in cases where possible abuse was detected.
Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough’s office confirmed to CTVNews.ca that bureaucrats were given guidance on how to sort claims, but said cases of abuse were still being reported. and pursued.
“The CERB has initial guarantees that include the certification of eligibility criteria and the provision of a valid SIN … and additional guarantees in the backend. those who are not eligible should be fully reimbursed, “said Qualtrough spokesperson Ashley Michnowski.
“The two departments will continue to conduct file reviews and investigations to identify and address cases of error, fraud and abuse.”
Amid Albas’ repeated questioning of the matter, Trudeau said the government has focused on “helping as many people as possible as quickly as possible.”
“It means that, yes, there will be things that we will have to clean up afterwards and work to fix them.” But putting that aid in the pockets of Canadians during this pandemic was our priority, “said Trudeau.
He made this point more than once.
“Our goal was to provide help to people when they needed it, as quickly as possible and to clean it up afterwards,” said Trudeau in response to another question from Albas.
Then, after another question, Trudeau said, “We knew we would have to clean up after the fact, to prosecute fraudulent cases, and we will. “
As of May 10, the government has received over 11 million applications for CERB, of which nearly eight million were single applicants. Over 11 million claims have been processed and over $ 30 billion in CERB benefits have been paid.
Meanwhile, Canadians who depend on financial assistance are wondering what will happen when the time for the four-month benefit runs out. The program is available until October 3 – although many Canadians began their four months of assistance in March – and offers successful applicants $ 2,000 per month for up to four months.
When pressed on May 6 to know whether the program would continue, President of the Treasury Board, Jean-Yves Duclos, would not confirm whether Canadians will receive more help if physical distancing measures continue beyond the end of CERB.
“We obviously knew from the start that we needed to quickly implement the Canada Emergency Response Allowance to ensure that Canadians could stay healthy while being able to put food on the table. 7.5 million Canadians have received support from CERB and we will continue to be there for Canadians, “said Duclos.
Meanwhile, the federal debt is climbing amidst these emergency economic measures. The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) warned that the federal debt could reach $ 1 trillion this fiscal year and noted that his projection of $ 252 billion for the federal deficit was “very optimistic”.
As these financial issues persist, the government has also said it has no timetable for the federal budget and Trudeau will not commit to providing a financial update anytime soon. This is despite PBO’s calls to provide one.
“A budget is usually something that predicts what’s going to happen in the Canadian economy over the next 12 months, and right now we’re having a lot of trouble figuring out what’s going to happen over the next 12 months weeks, “said Trudeau. , speaking from the steps of the Rideau Cottage on Wednesday.