April 6, 2021

Campaign 2000 and partners have been calling for a Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) repayment amnesty for anyone living below or near the Low Income Measure, and the call is gaining traction. With tax time upon us and the federal budget looming, it’s time to make sure this issue is front and centre.

One year in and it’s clear that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted already marginalized groups: im/migrants, racialized women, Indigenous Peoples, people with disabilities, women and gender diverse people fleeing violence, youth transitioning out of care, low waged and precarious workers, people receiving social assistance.

The CERB was a lifeline for many. It helped people to isolate safely at home, to deal with rising costs of food, PPE, cleaning supplies, broadband/cell/computer access, rent and other kinds of necessities.  There was a lot of confusion about who was eligible for this benefit but the dominant message coming out of the government was apply anyway, we won’t leave anyone behind.

Now the federal government is saying that low-income folks who can’t prove their eligibility will have to pay back thousands of dollars that they just don’t have. Even after they were encouraged and, in the case of social assistance recipients, legislated, by government and social service workers to apply.

It is both immoral and impractical for the government to saddle people with this kind of long-term debt, and it flies in the face of a human rights approach to poverty reduction, as well as the vision for an intersectional feminist pandemic recovery.

You can help support the call for a CERB Repayment Amnesty in the following ways:

Click here to sign the E-Petition before April 23

Share your CERB Story through this form

Want to know more about the Campaign? Read our policy brief in English and in French.

View all News and Events