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”
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.