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Ottawa, Jun 9 (Canadian-Media): Imposition of tighter rules for claiming the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), as well as fines and jail times for fraudulent applicants is being proposed by Canada's Liberal government, media reports said.
Canada's Liberal Party. Image credit: Facebook page
The decision for this proposed bill was made due to the pressure the Liberals are facing both from the Conservatives and the National Democratic Party (NDP).
Conservatives want all fraudulent claims to be constricted and urge people to get back to work, while the NDP is in favor of extending the emergency aid and ignore Canadians who have filed ineligible claims
In a bill to be tabled in the House of Commons June 10, the government says Canadians will not be eligible to claim the benefit if they fail to go back to work when it is reasonable to do so, or when their employer wnats them to return; fail to resume self-employment when it's reasonable to do so; and if they decline a reasonable job offer when they are able to work.
The bill also lays out penalties for those whose applications include false or misleading information, those who deliberately failed to disclose sources of income or other relevant facts at the time of applying for the federal aid.
An offence could lead to a fine of up to $5,000, plus a penalty equal to double the amount of the income support claimed, or a fine plus a period of imprisonment up to six months, according to proposed legislation.
But penalty can also be reduced by the government, says the Bill in response to new facts, and can issue a warning instead of a penalty.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said June 9 the bill is meant to protect the integrity of the program to get money out the door for desperate Canadians.
Trudeau added that anyone who received money in error because of unclear rules will not be punished and simply be asked to repay the money.
But all the deliberate fraudsters who took advantage of the pandemic and collected benefits they knew they weren't eligible for will be severely dealt with by the government.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh accused the government of penalizing people who collected benefits in error, and warned that the most vulnerable Canadians would be harmed by these penalties.
"The government has said, 'It's okay, try anyways, apply in good faith, you won't get in trouble,'" he said. "Now they're saying you're going to get in trouble and that's going to impact, without a doubt, racialized people more than anyone else."
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is asking the Liberals to crack down on fraudulent claims for benefits and to revamp benefit programs to motivate workers to go back to work as soon as it's safe to do so to help the economy recover.