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Share your CERB/CRB Story

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Share Your CERB and/or CRB Story with Campaign 2000

Since Summer 2020, Campaign 2000 has been working with partners from across the country to advocate for a Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) repayment amnesty for people living on low incomes who received Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) but were later found to be ineligible, or lost other benefits as a result of receiving the CERB/CRB.

What is CERB Amnesty?

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was the first pandemic income support program made available as a result of COVID-19, which was later replaced with the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). Confusion around eligibility resulted in recipients being deemed ineligible months after receiving the benefit. The failure to make policy adjustments also resulted in other benefits being reduced.  

CERB Amnesty refers to all clawed back funds being returned to recipients whose incomes are below or near the low-income measure, immediate cessation of all current and future claw backs, and halting the pursuit of low income tax filers found ineligible for pandemic benefits. Time is running out, as we expect requests for repayments to begin in July 2022. 

How can community service providers get involved? 

We have met with individuals, advocates, politicians, policymakers, and journalists from across the country about this issue, and one thing is clear: they need to hear the stories of those impacted.

Do you know someone who was: 

  1. received a letter from the Canada Revenue Agency stating they might have been ineligible for the CERB/CRB and requesting more information? OR
  2. lost or received deductions of other benefits such as social and disability assistance, rent supplements, Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), child benefits, worker benefits and Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits as a result of receiving the CERB/CRB? 

If you answered yes, let them know how they can share their story with us: 

  • Attend a virtual focus group. The 1-hour focus group is being held on Thursday, April 7 at 12:30 PM EST via Zoom. Participants will receive a $50 e-gift card for their participation. You can register for the focus group here: https://tinyurl.com/cerbfocusgroup
  • Fill out our online survey. Participants can share their stories with us anonymously or choose to use their names or initials. The survey can be accessed here: https://tinyurl.com/cerbsurvey
  • Fill out a hard copy survey. E-mail us at [email protected] to receive a hard copy of this survey that you can print and fill out together with the individual. Completed forms can be sent to us as scans/photos via email or mailed to us at the following address: 

Family Service Toronto, ATTN: Campaign 2000, 128a Sterling Rd Toronto, ON M6R 2B7, Canada

For questions, e-mail us at [email protected]

Hiring: Social Action Coordinator

Social Action Coordinator, Campaign 2000

We are looking for a Social Action Coordinator to support and provide leadership on all aspects of of Ontario Campaign 2000.

POSITION DETAILS  

Position: Coordinator 

Program: Social Action 

Contract: Permanent, full-time; 35 hours per week 

Location: 128A Sterling Rd or from a safe home-based office as required 

Salary: $55,574- $68,450 Grade 8 BU 

Application Deadline: April 13, 2022; midnight 

File Number: SA #17-22 with cover letter and resume 

E-Mail: [email protected] 

Mail: HR, 355 Church Street, Toronto ON M5B 0B2 

Web: familyservicetoronto.org; campaign2000.ca; ontariocampaign2000.ca 

Grow With Us!

Family Service Toronto (FST) helps people face a wide variety of life challenges. For over 100 years, we have worked with individuals, families and communities destabilized by precarious mental health and/or socioeconomic circumstances to achieve greater resilience, stability and equity. We achieve this through our understanding of poverty and the harmful effects of marginalization, discrimination and oppression. We direct our energies to support individuals and families in our core service areas – community counselling and mental health, gender-based violence and developmental disabilities. At the same time, we work to influence policy, build knowledge, strengthen communities and advocate for system change. 

We’re proud of our people and culture! We are constantly evolving what we do and how we do it. Our work is grounded in the lived experience of the clients and the community. We celebrate diversity, equity, inclusion and excellence. We are agile, learning and always willing to try new things. 

FST hosts the Ontario and National Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty in Canada, which are broad coalitions of community organizations committed to community engagement, public education, research and policy change to eradicate poverty in Canada. 

FST’s Social Action (SA) department focuses on driving system-level change for more just and supportive communities at the local, provincial and national levels. Our community building, research, public education and advocacy work is focused on influencing the systems and institutions that shape the lives of all community members and we’re looking for a Coordinator, Social Action to provide leadership in these key areas with a focus on Ontario policy. 

The Opportunity! 

The ideal candidate is someone who enjoys collaborating with diverse stakeholders to advance social justice issues. You have excellent communication, partnership development and interpersonal skills. You are someone with a strong sense of justice and a commitment to equity and inclusion, which you may have developed through your own personal lived experiences. Reporting to the Director, Social Action, this role coordinates FST’s provincial projects, supports municipal activities related to ending poverty and inequity. This role is also integral to advancing a culture of social action and civic engagement across FST program areas. 

Responsibilities

  • Provides leadership on all aspects of Ontario Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty, including developing, implementing and evaluating the campaign’s provincial engagement strategy through intersectional analysis and community development ethos.
  • Supports campaigns and initiatives at the national and municipal levels related to poverty and intersecting social and economic issues.
  • Develops and maintains strong community partnerships, fosters collaboration and engagement in all activities. 
  • Coordinates the provincial and Toronto report cards on child and family poverty and assists with the national report card. 
  • Coordinates research, policy analysis, and writing reports on identified Social Action and issues, including child and family poverty in Ontario, Toronto and/or Canada. 
  • Coordinates database maintenance and provide advice on how to use databases effectively for engagement and organizing goals. 
  • Develops a communication and a government relations strategy for Social Action projects. 
  • Develops, coordinates and provides leadership to partners on campaigns and timely actions related to identified social issues.
  • Develops and delivers professional presentations to organizations, groups and individuals interested in learning more about child and family and other social issues on the Social Action agenda. 
  • Organizes and coordinates community forums, meetings and events and distributes educational materials to promote public education about child and family poverty and other identified social and economic issues, including but not limited to poverty, immigration and settlement, income security and employment, health and housing.

Qualifications

  • Post-Graduate Degree in Public Policy, Social Work, Adult Education, Political Science, Women’s / Gender Studies or a related field or equivalent combination of education and experience. Foreign credentials and relevant experience will be considered.
  • Minimum 3 years relevant experience conducting research, coordinating coalitions and campaigns, and developing communications and advocacy strategies. 
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including writing high quality reports, dynamic presentation skills and designing workshops for a wide range of audiences. 
  • Demonstrated understanding of the impact of socio/economic issues, including child and family poverty, immigration and settlement, income security and employment, health and housing and experience developing strategies to address these issues. 
  • Ability to work in intersecting frameworks relevant to the project: strengths-based, feminist, anti-colonial, anti-racist, anti-oppression, etc. 
  • Knowledge of provincial and municipal government social and economic policy, jurisdiction and government relations. 
  • Demonstrated experience of media relations and social media communication strategies, including writing content for media releases and developing advocacy toolkits.
  • Demonstrated experience synthesizing policy ideas and research into public education materials, with the use of Canva, Piktochart, Excel or other visualization platforms 
  • Experience with advocacy and activism on policy issues 
  • Experience as a facilitator to reach consensus and action 
  • Experience in coalition building, partnership development and engagement with people 
  • from a wide array of backgrounds 
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook) and in social media and public education applications 
  • Experienced in the use and analysis of statistical data 
  • Event and meeting coordination and planning experience 
  • Proven ability to successfully manage projects from conception to implementation 
  • Ability to work effectively in an environment that is frequently ambiguous, and to work harmoniously with different constituencies to create strong cohesive partnerships 
  • Excellent interpersonal, organizational and conflict resolution skills 
  • Exacting attention to detail 
  • Self-directed and proactive problem-solving skills 
  • Fluency in languages other than English considered an asset 
  • Current criminal record check/vulnerable sector check 
  • Our goal is to attract, develop, and retain highly talented employees from diverse backgrounds allowing us to benefit from a wide variety of experiences and perspectives. 

We actively encourage applicants from all equity seeking groups. First Nations, Inuit, Métis, Black and People of Colour, people with disabilities, people of diverse gender expression, members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities and people with lived experience of poverty are encouraged to apply. 

In accordance with Ontario Human Rights Code, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, and FST’s Equity and Inclusion policy, accommodation will be provided in all parts of the hiring process. Applicants need to make their needs known in advance. 

We thank all applicants and will contact the individuals selected for an interview.

FINA Pre-Budget Consultation Presentation

On Monday, February 7th Campaign 2000 National Director, Leila Sarangi, appeared at the finance committee to highlight several recommendations that we’ve made in our 2022 Budget Submission and child poverty report card, as well as to highlight the recent crisis of low-income seniors who have had their GIS clawed back and are suffering – unable to pay for rent, food, or medications. Click here to watch the FINA presentation or read below for a full transcript.

FINA presentation – February 7, 2022

Leila Sarangi, National Director, Campaign 2000: End Child and Family Poverty

Hello and thank you for inviting me to appear today.  My name is Leila Sarangi and I am the National Director of Campaign 2000, a coalition of over 120 organizations working to end child and family poverty.

Today, I’ll be highlighting several recommendations we’ve made in our Budget 2022 submission and our latest child poverty report card, which found that more than 1.3 million children continue live in poverty.  That’s nearly one in five kids but the rates are much higher for indigenous children, racialized, immigrant, children with disabilities and children in lone-mother led families, among others marginalized by systemic barriers. These families are living in deeper poverty and inequalities are growing.  And while the national rate of child poverty reduced slightly in the last year, when we looked by province and territory, we found it actually increased in several of those sub-jurisdictions.  

I’m going to focus in on two areas – income benefits and childcare – although we address many other essential areas in those documents.

The first is the need to budget for a full CERB Amnesty.  Funds that have been earmarked in the fiscal update to repay seniors who lost GIS, must be released now.  We’ve been hearing from seniors who have lost their housing, who are living in their cars, who can’t afford their medication and food.  Many have contemplated suicide because of this hardship, and too many have lost their lives already. We implore you on their behalf to pay an emergency $2500 to these seniors now and create a new $100 million housing fund to help keep all clawback victims housed.

The CERB has interacted with other federal and provincial benefits.  So, in addition to losing GIS, people with low and moderate incomes have lost child benefits, workers benefits, GST credits, social and disability assistance, housing supplements and other provincial benefits such as those for energy and childcare costs, which they depended on to get through these extraordinarily difficult times.

A full CERB Amnesty would mean that all clawed back benefits would be returned, and it would mean to stop pursuing low- and moderate-income individuals for repayments of pandemic benefits. 

It would ensure that pandemic benefits would not negatively interact with income benefits in this or future tax years.

And it would immediately increase the current lockdown benefit to $500 and maintain that amount until EI is reformed.

We also recommend using the Canada Social Transfer to ensure adequacy of income programs by increasing investment by $4 billion and tying funds to adequacy standards, making sure that provincial and territorial programs are meeting human rights obligations.

Our last two annual report cards have found that the Canada Child Benefit is losing its power.  It needs significantly more investment into the base amount so that it can reach children who are left in deep poverty. Repealing the section of the income tax act that ties eligibility to immigration status would enable access to people with precarious immigration status but who are considered residents under the Income tax Act.

And we support the recommendation of disability communities to speed up the design and implementation of the new federal disability benefit, and we recommend the creation of a new federal disability benefit for children.

While the tax system is broad and ongoing activities to bring more people into it are important poverty reduction initiatives, it will never be universal.  We need a parallel benefit distribution system that is federally funded and works with local charities to get benefits to people who are outside of the tax system.  This kind of work is happening informally in communities across the country, and programs are formalized in jurisdictions around the world that we can learn from.

And lastly, on childcare, a national system has the power to be transformational if designed with low-income families in mind.  Our recommendation is a sliding scale $0-$10/day model that reduces fees through funding of operational costs, not through an individual parental fee subsidy model, which we know from experience hasn’t worked for families and doesn’t actually reduce fees.  Operational funding must also factor in decent wages for staff.  Provincial and territorial wage grids will be an essential piece of this funding policy.

Thank you for your time, I look forward to answering any questions.

February 7, 2022: CERB Amnesty Day of Action

The CERB Amnesty working group has been asking the federal government to stop pursuing people living on low incomes to repay that emergency benefit, and to repay anyone who had other income supports clawed back because they received CERB.  In December, the federal government promised to repay low-income seniors who had their GIS payments reduced or stopped.  But buried in their announcement was that the payment would not come until May 2022

Join us this Monday, February 7, 2022, as we spread awareness of CERB Amnesty and the struggle many seniors are facing right now. On Monday, reach out to Ministers Khera and Freeland to let them know that May 2022 is too late to reimburse low-income seniors.

Click here for more advocacy resources.

What is a CERB Amnesty? 

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was the first pandemic income support program that was delivered to individuals who lost work when the economy shut down as a result of COVID-19. In the fall of 2021, the CERB ended and was replaced with the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) 

Confusion around eligibility resulted in recipients being deemed ineligible months after receiving the benefit. The failure to make policy adjustments resulted in other benefits being reduced, including social and disability assistance, rent supplements, Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), child benefits, worker benefits and Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits. 

CERB Amnesty refers to all clawed back funds being returned to recipients whose incomes are below or near the low-income measure, immediate cessation of all current and future clawbacks and halting the pursuit of low-income tax filers found ineligible for pandemic benefits.

CERB Amnesty & GIS 

Sufficient funds have been set aside to reimburse GIS recipients in May 2022 for the income they lost as a result of the earlier policy to clawback pandemic benefits. The parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) reported that typical losses to the 88,000+ recipients affected would be in the $5,000 range for each recipient. 

However, many low-income seniors CANNOT wait until May 2022. 

CERB Amnesty & GIS: The Consequences

Many low-income seniors cannot wait until May 2022 for reimbursement. Some have: 

  • Have already been evicted from their housing.
  • Are on the verge of eviction.
  • Their landlords cannot and will not wait until May. 
  • Those who live in rent geared to income housing had rental charges increase by 30% of the pandemic benefits received in addition to the GIS clawback. 
  • Are faced with borrowing against the future payment through payday loan outlets that can charge exorbitant interest rates and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. 

This winter, while shelters are overrun because of the Omicron variant, seniors have and will continue to face eviction and have absolutely no place to go. Seniors are continuing to be evicted from their homes and we know of many seniors from across Canada who are suffering right now. 

Measures to Take Immediately 

  1. Immediately provide an interim down payment of $2,500 to all GIS clawback victims with losses of at least this amount. 
  2. Immediately implement a $100 million housing fund for pandemic clawback victims using a very low barrier distribution method to help keep seniors housed and mitigate evictions; and 
  3. Ensure that pandemic benefits (CERB, CRB and Lockdown) do not result in clawbacks from any other income benefits targeted for people with low and moderate incomes. 
  4. Refund all lost benefit amounts related to CERB/CRB payments 
  5. Stop pursuing people living on low incomes for repayments of the CERB and ensure that no payments are sought for the CRB. 
  6. Legislate the reinstatement of the CRB at the full $500 amount weekly into Bill C-2 until Employment Insurance is reformed; and 
  7. Drastically improve social and disability assistance programs by increasing federal investments into the Canada Social Transfer and tie funding to adequacy standards. 

How To Take Action

Tweet: Minister Khera (@KamalKheraLib) & Minister Freeland (@cafreeland) about GIS clawbacks

Use the hashtags: #CERBAmnesty #Cdnpoli #MayIsTooLate

Let them know that it is unacceptable to make low-income seniors wait until May 2022 to be reimbursed.

Write to Minister Khera & Minister Freeland 

[email protected];

[email protected]

cc: [email protected] 

Re: Emergency payment needed to support seniors who lost GIS due to CERB

Hello, 

My name is [Name] and I am concerned about the timeline for reimbursement for low-income seniors who had their GIS payments reduced or eliminated because they received pandemic benefits. Many are hungry, struggling to pay for medications and rent. Many have become homeless as a result. These seniors are experiencing increased stress and mental health challenges as a result of the hardship this has caused. It is unacceptable to make them wait until May 2022. Please act now. 

Sincerely, 

[Name]

2022 Pre-Budget Submission

On August 6, 2021, Campaign 2000 submitted investment priorities and recommendations for the 2022 federal budget, with a focus on a supportive recovery plan. This was submitted nine days before the election was called. These recommendations remain as key policy priorities during the election and as budget priorities for the government. The budget submission states that during this period of uneven economic recovery, marginalized groups and families are the ones experiencing systemic discrimination and have been disproportionately impacted by the economic fallout of the pandemic. Budget 2022 must aim to support these families and individuals and in doing so, ensure that no one is left behind in recovery efforts. To achieve this, we must remove barriers to increase eligibilities for families to get access to the efforts they need, such as recovery benefits. You can read the 2022 Pre-Budget Submission here.

Yukon, Saskatchewan, French Nat’l Report Cards Released

Today campaign partners in Saskatchewan and Yukon release new reports on child and family poverty. This is the first ever Campaign 2000-affiliated child poverty report released in the Yukon – thank you and congratulations to the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. 

The Yukon report found that in 2018, 10.9% of Yukoners were considered low income, but Yukoners most likely to be considered low income based on the Low Income Measure included Lone-parent families (22.1%) and Households living outside of the Whitehorse (14.5%). Read the full report, which includes 10 recommendations and several policy proposals to improve the health and wellness of children, youth, and families in the Yukon.

The Saskatchewan report reveals a provincial child poverty rate of 26.1%, well above the child poverty rate of 18.2% for Canada as a whole, and greater than all other provinces and territories with the exception of Manitoba and Nunavut. Children in lone parent families had a poverty rate of 59.9%.

Read the Saskatchewan 2020 Child and Family Report Card and Poverty Report Brief.

Read the Yukon 2020 Child and Family Report Card and the media release.

Also out today is the French 2020 National Report card

C2000 asks for CERB repayment amnesty for low-income families

Campaign 2000 calls on all federal leaders to take a stand in support of all low income people in Canada who have faced economic hardship before and during the pandemic by supporting a broad repayment amnesty for those who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) but were later deemed ineligible.

“The federal government’s roll out of individual emergency income supports in March must be applauded,” says Leila Sarangi, National Coordinator for Campaign 2000. “This move no doubt was a lifeline for thousands of people living on low income. Now it’s time for the Prime Minister and all federal party leaders to decisively support a CERB repayment amnesty for anyone living in low income who received the benefit but who were found to be ineligible after the fact.”

Read the full press release.

C2000’s 6 Principles to Guide Basic Income Design

The concept of Basic Income is front and centre once again in policy and advocacy circles, and interest in BI is gaining across the country. While critics and proponents of Basic Income alike discuss program design and financing options, few have spoken about principles that should guide the design of a Basic Income. If anti-poverty advocates aren’t clear on these principles, we are unlikely to get the basic income we want.

Basic Income must move and keep families out of poverty, and it must be supported by a web of accompanying policies to end discrimination and income inequity. In 2016, when Ontario’s Basic Income Pilot was being designed, Campaign 2000 developed 6 guiding principles which provide an anti-poverty framework through which to assess any BI program. These foundational principles are:

  • Poverty Eradication
  • Inclusive Access
  • Ongoing Targeted Supports
  • Strong Public Services
  • Ending Structural Inequities
  • Better Wages for Workers  

In order for BI to successfully accelerate the reduction in poverty, and ensure dignity for all who are living in low income, these principles must be considered foundational architecture in the design of any BI program.

Read C2000’s 6 Principles to Guide Basic Income Design

Basic Income 6 Principles

Note: These principles were originally published in a chapter which was part of a compendium released in October 2016 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ontario Office entitled, “Basic Income: Rethinking Social Policy.”, edited by Alex Himelfarb and Trish Hennessy. The full compendium can be found at: https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/reports/basic-income.

2021 Pre-Budget Submission

On August 7, Campaign 2000 submitted its priorities for the 2021 federal budget, with a focus on a COVID recovery plan.  The submission states that experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare inequities, are amplifying inequality and bringing to light the inadequacies of our social and economic infrastructure to support families in crisis. The road to recovery must not lead us back to what we knew as ‘normal’. That status quo left far too many behind. We must use this opportunity to reimagine a just, equitable, inclusive society, which is both good for the economy and is the right thing to do. Eradicating poverty is undoubtedly essential to promoting Canada’s economic growth (Conference Board of Canada) while promoting population health, enhancing social cohesion and enabling fuller social and economic participation of all. To achieve this, we must invest in policies that equalize outcomes for families and children, including income benefits, Reconciliation, ELCC and housing for all.

Read the recommendations and full submission.

FST & C2000 joint statement on anti-Black racism

Family Service Toronto and Campaign 2000 nation-wide release a joint statement denouncing all forms of anti-Black racism, colonialism and white supremacy.   As organizations working directly in the areas of mental health and poverty eradication, we know that Black and Indigenous communities have much worse health outcomes and exponentially higher rates of poverty than white Canadians and that this is a both a result of and a strategy to maintain systemic oppression.  We have a responsibility to ensure that our work in these areas contributes to ending anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, which cannot be done without critical self-reflection, education and dialogue.

Read the full statement and recommendations.

Read the media release.

British Columbia – First Call: Child And Youth Advocacy Coalition

Alberta – Edmonton Social Planning Council

Saskatchewan – University of Regina

Manitoba Social Planning Council of Winnipeg

Ontario – Ontario Campaign 2000

New Brunswick – Human Development Council

Nova Scotia – CCPA office in Nova Scotia

Prince Edward Island – MacKillop Centre for Social Justice and the PEI Coalition for a Poverty Eradication Strategy