Retroactive CERB will still be available despite questions over rules: official

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The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will remain available retroactively until early December.

A federal government official on Thursday clarified the availability of the retroactive portion of the program, the rest of which began wrapping up last weekend and will officially end on Saturday.

The clarification came after NDP MP Jenny Kwan raised concerns during question period on Thursday, saying one of her constituents had tried to apply online for retroactive CERB payments on Sept. 29 after learning the program was ending, but was told he could not do so.

“When we looked into this, the CRA agent told my office that on Sept. 28 they received direction to limit the retroactive payment,” Kwan said.

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“There was no public warning whatsoever of this change and is contrary to what the government’s own public website states. This is utterly unfair and unacceptable.”

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While the CERB program itself is wrapping up, individuals who realize they are retroactively eligible for the benefit because of coronavirus impacts between March 15 and Oct. 3 can still apply until Dec. 2.

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While Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen didn’t directly answer Kwan’s question on Thursday, a government official told Global News the spending authorities for the retroactive component of the program are in the coronavirus benefits bill passed by MPs this week.

The official said the authorization for the government to spend on CERB expired on Sept. 27 but the new authorizations will kick in once Bill C-4 receives royal assent.

They said that means anyone looking to apply retroactively can get approved once the bill passes.

The bill is currently before the Senate, which is expected to begin debate on it on Friday.

Click to play video 'NDP MP questions why CERB retroactive rules appear to have changed' 1:26 NDP MP questions why CERB retroactive rules appear to have changed

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