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By   |  Published March 6, 2022

Residents who collected money from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) can expect a letter — if they haven’t gotten one already — from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) asking them to verify that they were eligible to receive it.

The CERB was rolled out early during the pandemic to provide financial support (up to $2,000 for a four-week period) to employed and self-employed Canadians who were directly affected by COVID-19. With many residents having applied for the CERB, the CRA is now checking if its recipients met the eligibility requirements. Those who are decided not to have been eligible will be expected to pay money back to the CRA.

Sources indicate that the CRA will be more lenient towards ineligible recipients who simply made a mistake and were not trying to wrongly take advantage of the CERB.

“If you received COVID-19 benefits from CRA that you were not entitled to, we will send you a notice of redetermination,”  the federal government states.

“Starting in 2022, if you have a balance owing, the CRA may keep all or a portion of any future payments, tax refunds or GST/HST credits until the amount is repaid.”

The CERB was available to workers who:

  • were residing in Canada, who were at least 15 years old
  • stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or were eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020
  • had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application, and
  • did not quit their job voluntarily

The federal government provides more information about the CERB and ways to repay it.