Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is blaming processing “hiccups” for the fact that many Canadians are reporting delays in receiving their Canada emergency response benefit payments.
Many people who rely on the $2,000 monthly benefit to cover food, rent and bills are expressing anxiety and frustration on social media over being forced to wait longer to see the money deposited in their accounts. Many also have said they haven’t been able to get clear answers from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about the delays.
Trudeau was asked for an explanation during an interview Thursday with VOCM News in St. John’s.
“We’re we’re working through some of the challenges because there was an extension. There might be a couple little hiccups, but we have said from the beginning we’d be there for Canadians and we will continue to be there for them,” he said.
Many CERB claimants applied for the monthly benefit Monday and were expecting the deposit within one or two days, as has been the delivery pattern in past months. The CRA did not offer an explanation for the slower pace of payments but said that the money is on the way.
“The Canada Revenue Agency understands how important the CERB is to Canadians during this time and we want to assure applicants that they will receive the payments that they are entitled to,” said spokesperson Etienne Biram in an email.
“As part of its ongoing commitment to quality client service, the CRA aims to have CERB payments made by direct deposit issued within three to five business days of an application being received, and within 10 business days for payments by cheque. This is in line with our timeliness service standards for processing payments. The CRA expects that the vast majority of payments will be issued within this time frame.”
Last month, the federal government announced it was extending the CERB by one more month and revamping employment insurance (EI) to allow more people to receive financial assistance during the pandemic.
Those changes, aimed at helping Canadians through the transition as the economy gradually reopens, is expected to cost $37 billion.
The changes include making the EI system more flexible on the number of work hours required for a claim, making it easier for people to qualify for a one-year period.