Ottawa asks East Hants man to repay $2K CERB payment he says he never received

·2 min read
Joel White holdings the notice of debt he received from Employment and Social Development Canada. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)
Joel White holdings the notice of debt he received from Employment and Social Development Canada. (Paul Palmeter/CBC - image credit)

Joel White is in a fight with the Canadian government over a $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payment he says he never received.

White says he received a notice of debt from Employment and Social Development Canada stating he would be required to repay the money. But he says he never received it.

"They even called me at one point to ask me if I was going to go through with my application and I said no because I went right back to work," said White, a mechanic who lives in Enfield, N.S.

When COVID-19 hit Canada in the spring of 2020, White was one of many Nova Scotians temporarily forced from work.

He opened a CERB claim online, but never completed it. He said he was caught off guard when he opened his mail recently to find a letter stating he owed $2,000.

"I'm pretty confused and I'm like, 'How, the heck does this happen?'" said White. "You would think they would be well organized on who owes money and who doesn't, but maybe they aren't."

To be certain, White checked with his bank to see if there was a deposit made into his account that he might have missed. But he said there is no record of a deposit.

Paul Palmeter/CBC
Paul Palmeter/CBC

"I'm definitely going to appeal," he said. "I mean I can't just hand out two grand to the government. I wonder how many other people got stuck with this who never got any money."

Service Canada says any individual can request to have a decision reconsidered. That action must be taken within 30 days of notice.

If a person disagrees with the decision made following the request for reconsideration, they can appeal to the general division of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada.

If it is determined that the debt is unfounded, it can be written off.

White says a number of his co-workers received the same notice from the government, but they received the money.

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