Canadians applying for new pandemic benefit report confusion, frustration

Posted In: News Date:Oct 16th, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that applying for the new Canada Recovery Benefit would be "simple" and that no Canadian would be left behind in the transition to a new pandemic benefit.

But some say the application process has been deeply frustrating and they still don't know when — or even if — they'll get the money.

Hajar Pittman told CBC News the application process has been a nightmare.

"I've never felt this hopeless," said the Brampton, Ont. mother of two toddlers. She was on maternity leave when the pandemic hit. She was laid off from her job in the airline industry in June and collected the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — the benefit replaced by the CRB — throughout the summer.

Pittman said that when she first tried to apply for the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) on Monday, she got an error message — "COV-026" — telling her she was ineligible for the benefit without explaining why.

It took hours of phone calls with the Canada Revenue Agency, she said, before a CRA agent suggested that the fact she collected parental leave benefits might be causing confusion in the CRB process. Pittman said she has now requested a letter from Service Canada clarifying her status.

Pittman said she was also told she might have to wait 21 business days for that letter to arrive. Once she gets it, she'll have to send it on to the CRA — so she has no idea how long the total application process could take.