Over 8,000 Nunavut residents received emergency COVID-19 benefit: Statistics Canada

Government of Nunavut cautioned residents in May that the CERB is not “free money”

Over 8,000 Nunavut residents received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, new data from Statistics Canada shows. (File photo)

By Emma Tranter

As of June 28, 8,800 Nunavut residents have received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, according to data released by Statistics Canada.

The CERB is a temporary federal income support benefit that provides money to people who have stopped working due to COVID-19, amounting to $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

People who earned more than $5,000 in the last 12 months from other employment are eligible to apply for the CERB.

When applying for the CERB, applicants do not need to provide proof they have been laid off or have lost their jobs due to COVID-19.

On June 16, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the CERB would be extended for two more months.

Overall, the federal government processed 18.71 million applications for the CERB and paid $53.53 billion in benefits through the program, according to StatCan.

In May, the Government of Nunavut issued a public service announcement that stated Nunavummiut who received income assistance as their sole income in the last year are not eligible to receive the CERB.

“If you receive CERB and were not eligible to, you will be required to repay the amount you received to the Government of Canada. Be aware that CERB payments will impact your IA [income assistance] payments and are taxable,” the PSA said.

The GN also said people who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 are required to apply for the CERB before applying for income assistance. Those who quit their jobs voluntarily are not eligible for the CERB.

According to StatCan, 29.9 per cent of Nunavut residents who received the CERB are 25 to 34 years old, while 18.9 per cent were under 25.

At a May 19 news conference, Premier Joe Savikataaq cautioned Nunavummiut that the CERB is not “free money” and is considered income.

“It is a taxable benefit intended to help people who have been laid off or whose employment has been impacted because of the pandemic. If your circumstances have not changed because of COVID-19, please don’t access this program. If you are not eligible for this program, you will likely have to pay some or all of it back in the future,” Savikataaq said.

Savikataaq reiterated that statement on June 18, saying the benefit is only for people who are currently not making money because of COVID-19.

When asked about the CERB at a June 18 news conference, Savikataaq said he doesn’t have “hard proof” that CERB is being abused in Nunavut. He doesn’t want anyone to owe a lot of money down the road, he said.

This table breaks down the number of people who have received the CERB up until June 28. (Screenshot from Statistics Canada)

Share This Story

(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by I Can’t Prove It But on

    The number of Nunavummiut who lost work because of COVID-19 mist be small.

    The number of people working older than age 65 must also be small.

    That 330 Nunavummiut aged 65+ claim to have lost work because of COVID-19, seems to indicate that CERB is being abused.

  2. Posted by Dr. DoLittle on

    According to the World Bank there were 20,583,847 people in the Canadian Labour Force in 2019. This article tells us that the federal government processed 18.71 million applications for the CERB. From the wording of the article you might conclude that 90% of all Canadians have lost their job due to COVD-19. But if you look at the table at the end of the article you see that 8.16 million Canadians have applied for CERB. That’s still almost 40% of the Labour Force.
    Ottawa has been printing money, but where is it going? Who is ending up with it, after we use it to pay rent and buy food?
    Canada needs a real plan to end this virus and get the economy going again. The current “let’s hope it just goes away” seems to be nothing more than wishfull thinking.

  3. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    it’s painfully obvious how much abuse of the benefit is going on. you know people in these small town. I was at the store the other day, waiting to pay the bill. a 19 or 20 year old young man. has not worked in over a year, maybe two. cashing a federal cerb cheque.

    there are so many parties going on, more than normal. a lot more than normal. you talk to people and they are accessing the federal benefit. it’s going to be bad to see how much is clawed back in the coming months.

    • Posted by Kuujjamiuk on

      Some people have been on bender like there is no tommorow

      • Posted by Northern Inuit on

        bootleggers and drug dealers love watching Justin extend the CERB program because it means more clients for them blood suckers.

  4. Posted by Cash Entitlement or Right for Beneficaries on

    It’s a fact, I wish people who are not eligible would not apply, it’ll hurt them in the long run. 65 and over, adult children or adult grandchildren are applying on behalf of their grandparent’s knowledge. Not good.

  5. Posted by Rampant Fraud on

    So more or less 25% of the territory applied to CERB. Yet almost all the territory employment is government. One third of the population is under working majority age. The premier issued all those statements because he knew there was rampant fraud and abuse. Those abusers, including many homeless who never worked and were ineligible, will likely never be forced to repay by Canada but it does seem like Nunavut is going to claw back welfare. Good. Unbelievable that so many Nunavummuit are happy to commit fraud, pathetic.

  6. Posted by Oh ima on

    Extreme poverty makes people do desperate things when opportunities are so limited in the communities

    • Posted by Okay on

      I think that is a very unfair statement to say about people who are poor. I think there are better explanations.

  7. Posted by james on

    There are two constants in life,Death and Taxes,the feds will take a keen intrest in clawing back this money,and the fraudsters will be red flagged,for the next 5 tax years,sad in away

  8. Posted by Greg on

    The greatest beneficiary of CERB in Iqaluit was the Beer/Wine store.

  9. Posted by Jimmy on

    We were told to “stay home”, and we did. Government employees continued to get paid. Why would someone who is in a vulnerable age group, still working but not for the government, be expected to go to work when nobody else is? These people, admittedly few, “stayed home”, to quote the government’s attestation; “for reason’s related to COVID-19”. In other words, they didn’t want to die!
    You didn’t have to get laid off or lose your job to get the benefit, but you did have to be working and earning money pre-COVID.
    The fact that the coronavirus has not (yet) made it to Nunavut is a credit to those who took the steps recommended by the federal government. That doesn’t alter the fact that we were told at the outset that this was a dangerous virus and that COVID-19 could overload the health care system. Some of us, for our own safety, had to give up income, and therefore are entitled to the CERB.

  10. Posted by Done on

    I’ve lived in Nunavut many years but this spring I’ve decided it’s time to start packing up (I know I know, good riddance right? Don’t let the door hit me on the way out). We were totally sheltered from almost all the fallout from this pandemic: no cases and nearly no job loses, abundance of time to go on the land, etc. And yet it’s like night of the living dead starting at noon every day in iqaluit. People should be scared by how impulsive a significant portion of the population are (about 8k) in order to get a short term payout in order to go on month-long benders. Check the comments nunatsiaq facebook post on this article, it’s all the government’s fault and not the people making an illegal false claim. Until people take some responsibility and take charge of their own futures, Nunavut will baby its population. Then what happens when Canada eventually elects a far right government who decides to reallocate the way funds are distributed across the north?

    When the sh*t really hits the fan in Nunavut one day, I’m not going to be here.

    • Posted by Golden Handcuffs on

      Congratulations on your move, I hope to do the same sooner rather than later.

    • Posted by One of Many on

      Many people I’ve talked to are going to leave because of the lack of flexibility on the part of the GN to allow home self-isolation, which is an option everywhere else in the country, including the NWT and I think Nunavik. As you said, queue a bunch of “good riddance” from the local fools who think all Nunavut’s problems are externally imposed and that no one can question the Health department’s policies.

  11. Posted by Sam on

    There is almost 20,000 Inuit living in the south ,that should tell you there is a problem in Nunavut when there is only 30,000 Inuit in NUnavut . Nti should do a survey about them. But wait the truth will be spoken.

  12. Posted by Putuguk on

    The semantics of Nunavut amazes me . “If you receive CERB and were not eligible to”.

    Come on, really? The language we use up here is regularly scrubbed clean of any reference to personal responsibility.

    Are we to view this situation such that thousands of CERB cheques are somehow, magically and randomly landing in post office boxes across Nunavut like junk mail? Even if that was occurring, when did it become acceptable to cash a payment you know was made in error?

    No, that is not at all what is happening.

    People heard the news that the government was giving out money. Through a remarkable personal feat of cognitive dissonance, people mentally blocked out any knowledge that this money was for people who lost their jobs. They checked online and saw how easy it was to get it. They chose to ignore the eligibility requirements for CERB. They then willfully applied for and received the money. They lied to every single taxpayer out there.

    A smaller portion perhaps were unsure or confused whether or not they were eligible. This group did not have the intent to lie, they were just being plain idiotic about it. This group did not err on the side of caution, did not seek any other advice or direction, did not read the information, and applied anyway.

    When you lie to get money, there is a specific term for that. Semantically, this is fraud. When you do not show proper care and this negatively affects someone else or the public good, it is called something specific too. That is called negligence.

    GN, just tell it like it is… “If you applied for and received CERB when you were not supposed to…”. Maybe if we start using the language of personal responsibility, eventually the concept will sink in and people will recognize that this is an important part of living well in society.

    • Posted by Putuguk for Premier on

      Putuguk for Premier!
      If you run, I will vote for you.
      Too bad Elections Nunavut has made it impossible to vote for a write-in candidate.
      If it becomes possible, I’ll vote for you, even if your name is not on the ballot.

    • Posted by Screwed on

      People who can’t/won’t pay back their CERB money will be screwed longterm in a variety of ways. They’ll get stonewalled by the federal government every time they want to apply for something. No more GST checks, child benefit checks, income tax returns. Those are all on hold until they pay it back.
      I know it’s important to live in the moment and not worry too much about the future, but the CERB frauds are totally screwed if they can’t return the money. We’re going to hear the “victims” whine about this for years.

Comments are closed.