Lindsay Northrup is dealing with a significant loss of income. This reimbursement cuts in half what she receives in employment insurance parental benefits, which already represent half of what she earns at work.

Some of my bills haven’t been paid, they’re going to be late. It’s frustrating and it’s not my fault deplores the one who lives with her husband and her eight-month-old son.

Lindsay Northrup received a letter in March from Employment and Social Development Canada informing her that she had to repay $2,000 overpaid. She did not expect this, as soon after the pandemic began in March 2020, she was laid off due to a lack of work. She was eligible for federal benefits until she returned to work in June 2020.

In November 2021, Federal Minister of Employment Carla Qualtrough issued a statement indicating that anyone who applied for the benefit before June 14, 2020 through Service Canada received a payment anticipated of $2000. People who did not qualify or received benefits for less than 20 weeks would have a debt balance, according to the statement.

A normal practice

After receiving the Ministry’s notice, Ms. Northrup made commitments for a reimbursement of $32 per month.

She was surprised to see her employment insurance parental leave benefit cut by $500.

An agent from Employment and Social Development Canada replied that the agreement provided for a reimbursement of $500 by check in addition to the monthly agreement of $32.

I didn’t agree she criticized, calling it a very frustrating discussion with the agent.

I wrote everything down to remind me of what happened with the agent. But it was a bit confusing. »

A quote from Lindsay Northrup

Employment and Social Development Canada responded by email that what is happening to Ms. Northrup is a normal practice in the event of repayment of an employment insurance debt or the CERB.

Department states that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has put Employment Insurance debt collections on hold since March 2020 to ease financial pressures on Canadian families.

This agreement ended on March 21, 2022.

Not the only one

Lindsay Northup says she’s not alone in this situation. She says her friend Marissa Keheler, of Saint-Jean, also had her maternity leave benefits reduced in April.

It happened to me and it happened to one of my friends. How many other people have had the same problem? she asks herself.

Employment and Social Development Canada would not indicate how many people are struggling with this situation.

Marissa Keheler says she sent a dozen documents and answered several questions from government employees to demonstrate that she had financial difficulties to qualify for a repayment plan.

While scanning her bank account a few days ago, the mother of a seven-month-old boy saw that her employment insurance parental leave benefit had been reduced by 50%. She and her husband, owners of a café, must continue to pay current bills and their new home.

She also received the notice of debt about the CERB. Although she was eligible for this money, she expected to have to repay the first $2,000. However, she did not know that this reimbursement was going to be made every two weeks.

I couldn’t believe it. We thought it was a bit aggressive, especially when I already earn a very small amount compared to what I usually earn she revealed.

Ms. Keheler has negotiated a monthly repayment of $60, but has yet to hear from her.

With information from Simon Smith of CBC

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