Some recipients of the federal government’s emergency coronavirus pandemic benefit say funds for September have not yet arrived in their bank accounts.
Several Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) recipients told Global News that they were waiting on payments. Their concerns were echoed by many who have taken to social media in recent days.
Martin Palfenier in Edmonton said that the money has typically been deposited within two or three days of re-applying, but that wasn’t the case this time.
On Wednesday, a CRA representative told him the deposit would be made the following day as there had been a delay in processing applications, he said.
But that hasn’t happened.
“I woke up with no money in my bank account this morning,” said Palfenier, who said he is immuno-compromised and cannot safely return to work.
He is calling on the agency to provide clarity on when the issue will be resolved, and help those currently in limbo.
“That payment was my rent. That payment was my food and my medicine. It was also my child’s food, her medicine. My wife included.”
The Canada Revenue Agency told Global News it has made recent changes to ensure CERB applicants are “properly authenticated” before funds are released.
Payments, however, are still being made within CRA’s established standard of three-to-five business days for direct deposit and 10 business days for cheques, the agency said.
“We will continue to be there to support Canadians throughout this pandemic,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The change in procedure comes after the agency acknowledged last month that as many as 5,600 CRA accounts were targeted in so-called “credential stuffing” cyber attacks. CRA temporarily suspended access to individual accounts.
Credential stuffing is a form of cyberattack that relies on databases of stolen login information made available through previous data breaches. The hackers use those credentials to try and gain access to different online services.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked about CERB payment delays during an interview with St. John’s, N.L., radio station VOCM on Thursday.
“We’re working through some of the challenges,” Trudeau said. “Because there was an extension, there might be a couple (of) little hiccups, but we have said from the beginning we’d be there for Canadians and we will continue to be there for them.”
September is the final month for the CERB program. The federal government announced plans to transition recipients to Employment Insurance (EI) in late July.
Ottawa has also created a new benefit for people who don’t qualify for EI, such as contract and gig workers. There are also new programs for those who cannot work due to COVID-19 illness or childcare responsibilities.
The last scheduled CERB pay period is set to end on Sept. 26. Launched in early April, the taxable, personal income benefit provides $2,000 every four weeks to eligible applicants who lost work or their jobs due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applicants must re-apply for the benefit every month.
More than 8.6 million Canadians have applied for CERB and more than $71 billion in payments have been distributed as of Aug. 23.
— With files from Eric Beck and Beatrice Britneff, Global News
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