Canada forcing Toronto actor to repay over $20k in pandemic benefits

Canada forcing Toronto actor to repay over $20k in pandemic benefits

In Canada, Toronto actor Alain D’Amours said he applied for funds to help him buy groceries, and pay his rent and bills during the pandemic.

Parliament Hill in Ottawa

The Canada government has recovered about half the funds mistakenly paid to ineligible Canadians, and it wants the rest.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian government unloaded billions of dollars to help Canadians deal with the economic impact of it.

In December 2022, Canada’s Auditor General Karen Hogan said roughly $4.6 billion in COVID-19 assistance was paid to people who didn’t deserve it – funds the government now wants back.

“We found that overpayments of 4.6 billion dollars [were] made to ineligible individuals,” said Hogan at the time.

D’Amours said he worked as a contractor most of his life until he had to stop for health reasons. He decided to become an actor in 2018 and was working on several projects when, not long after, COVID-19 almost shut down his industry.

D’Amours said he received funds from the Canada Emergency Recovery Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), but he recently got a letter from Revenue Canada that said, “We reviewed your COVID-19 benefits. You need to pay back $23,700.”

“I think it’s pretty crazy. I know other people around me that got $3,000 or $5,000 to reimburse but not $24,000. That’s a big chunk,” said D’Amours.

Toronto actor Alain D’Amours, after being asked to reimburse $24,000, said he knows people around him that got $3,000 or $5,000 to reimburse but not $24,000. That’s a big chunk.”

The federal government has recovered about 50 per cent of benefits paid to ineligible Canadians.

The benefits include overpayments in all its COVID-19 benefit programs, including the following:

List of Canada COVID-19 pandemic benefits

D’Amours believes a mistake was made on his tax return, and he wants the chance to submit a revised return. He said it’s unfair for the federal government to give him so much money and then ask for it back.

“You gave me the money to help me survive. You gave the money, it is not a loan, and right now, it feels like I borrowed from you and now I have to pay it back with interest. It doesn’t make much sense for me and to reimburse that, and there is no way, I don’t even make that in a year,” said D’Amours.

In a statement to CTV News Toronto, a spokesperson for Revenue Canada said it “recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many Canadians and remains committed to being compassionate, flexible, and supportive during this challenging time.”

“Canadians who received a Notices of Redetermination (NoR) but still believe they were eligible for those payments are encouraged to contact the CRA to provide any additional information required to validate their claim. Please note that individuals who face a CERB-related debt, who made a mistake in good faith, will not be charged penalties or interest and have significant options for flexible repayment terms.”

“While we cannot comment on specific cases for taxpayer confidentiality reasons, individuals are encouraged to contact the CRA by phone to discuss their options with an agent in order to find a solution that works for their specific situation. Members of the public can contact the CRA by calling 1-833-253-7615.”

“We are sensitive to Canadians who are experiencing financial difficulty and will work with them to make payment arrangements based on their ability to pay. Individuals who require assistance in the form of a financial solution tailored to their specific financial circumstances should contact the CRA as early as possible to speak to one of our agents. We recognize that each taxpayer’s situation is different and we are reviewing each situation on a case-by-case basis.”

“Post-verification work is still ongoing and will continue for several years. To protect the integrity of COVID-19 benefit programs, the CRA is committed to ensuring that individuals receive only the benefits to which they are entitled.”

Upwards of 8 million Canadians received benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and about 250,000 people received a letter saying they must pay back some or all of the money they received.

Source: CTV News Toronto – Pat Foran

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