Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that applying for the new Canada Recovery Benefit would be “simple” and that no Canadian would be left behind in the transition to a new pandemic benefit.
But some say the application process has been deeply frustrating and they still don’t know when — or even if — they’ll get the money.
Hajar Pittman told CBC News the application process has been a nightmare.
“I’ve never felt this hopeless,” said the Brampton, Ont. mother of two toddlers. She was on maternity leave when the pandemic hit. She was laid off from her job in the airline industry in June and collected the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — the benefit replaced by the CRB — throughout the summer.
Pittman said that when she first tried to apply for the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) on Monday, she got an error message — “COV-026” — telling her she was ineligible for the benefit without explaining why.
It took hours of phone calls with the Canada Revenue Agency, she said, before a CRA agent suggested that the fact she collected parental leave benefits might be causing confusion in the CRB process. Pittman said she has now requested a letter from Service Canada clarifying her status.
Pittman said she was also told she might have to wait 21 business days for that letter to arrive. Once she gets it, she’ll have to send it on to the CRA — so she has no idea how long the total application process could take.
In the meantime — instead of the $500 per week she could be collecting from the CRB — she has no money coming in. And looking for a job in a pandemic has led her nowhere.
My kids and I are desperate for help, @JustinTrudeau I haven’t been able to apply for the CRB even though I meet all the requirements, @CanRevAgency can’t give me a reason why. Please help @theJagmeetSingh
“I’m relying on family and friends and savings that I’ve put away over the years,” she told CBC News.
“I’m just hoping and praying that this will be resolved soon because I don’t know how long I can go without collecting any financial support from the government. I was really relying on that for myself and my children.”
She’s not alone. CBC News has received at least three dozen complaints about access to the benefit.
Tracey Crosson, administrator of the “Canadians on $2000/month CERB support group” on Facebook, said she’s seeing dozens of complaints a day from people struggling to access the CRB.
“People are having a real hard time with it. They’re getting errors and it shouldn’t be that way.”
Confusion over EI applications
Crosson said the comments she’s seen in the Facebook group suggest many people are experiencing problems because they’ve applied for Employment Insurance in the past but are no longer eligible.
Changes to the federal government’s suite of pandemic benefits made more Canadians eligible for Employment Insurance. Those who are eligible for EI are…