June 18, 2020
As various parts of the country begin to lift the restrictions that were put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some employers are experiencing a shortage of labour as an unintended consequence of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”). Those in lower-wage industries have argued that the $2,000 a month they receive through CERB is more than they would make through their regular 40-hour week, and therefore would prefer to keep doing so.
To be eligible, however, claimants cannot voluntarily quit their job. Therein lies the rub: so long as the employer has created a safe work environment, any employees who refuse to return to work when called may be deemed to have voluntarily resigned, thereby making them ineligible for CERB.
The CRA has announced that they plan to aggressively pursue fraud, which could include the verification of an employee’s record of employment (“ROE”), including the date of resignation, and comparing it to the information provided in the CERB claim.
Additionally, they have also setup the “National Leads Program,” as a means for people to report any suspicions of abuse.
So, employees be warned: in cases where claimants are found to be ineligible for continued CERB payments, they will have to repay any applicable amounts. Further, if claimants are determined to have included false or misleading information in their application, they may be subject to fines and other penalties.
Cassandra Sutter is an associate with JSS Barristers. Click here for her bio.
 Carroll v Purcee Industrial Controls Ltd, 2017 ABQB 211 at para 25; Kieran v Ingram Micro Inc,  OJ No 3118, 2004 CanLII 4852 at paras 27 and 30; Danroth v Farrow Holdings Ltd, 2005 BCCA 593 at para 8
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