After dozens of Canadians complained to CBC News about problems getting the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), the Canada Revenue Agency is now recommending that some applicants reapply for the benefit on Monday after 6 a.m. ET.
CBC News first reported Friday on the frustration and despair of Canadians who were certain they were eligible for the CRB but had their applications rejected. The benefit is supposed to replace the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) for those who are not eligible for employment insurance.
While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that the application process would be “simple” and that no one would be left behind in the transition away from the CERB, many complained they received an error message when submitting their application.
“I’ve never felt this hopeless,” Hajar Pittman told CBC News after her application was rejected.
The mother of two toddlers said she was laid off from her job in the airline industry and forced to borrow money from friends and family while she tried to sort out the confusion, which seemed to stem from her having received parental leave benefits in the last year.
The CRA now says it may have a solution for frustrated Canadians like Pittman.
“Anyone who applied for the CRB before Oct. 16 and received [error] code 026 should try reapplying again on Monday,” the agency said late Saturday in a statement.
“Their application may be approved if our updated information supports their claim. If the applicant reapplies and continues to get code 026, it’s because the individual may be eligible for EI or applied for EI earlier this year.”
The CRA suggests applicants consult the government’s EI eligibility criteria, available here.
Nearly 600,000 Canadians have been approved for the CRB, which was launched on Oct. 12, according to the statement.
While CBC News has asked how many Canadians applied unsuccessfully, the CRA has not provided a figure.
System offline until Monday morning
But the CRA warns that for the next few days, it may be difficult to receive help by phone.
“We recognize that many Canadians need to reach us. As a result, our wait times are longer than usual. We expect to return to lower wait times by the end of next week, and we ask for Canadians to be patient until that time and only call if it is a time-sensitive issue.”
In addition, the CRA says some of its services, including MyAccount and its automated phone line, are offline over the course of this weekend and until Monday at 6 a.m. ET.
This is due to “scheduled routine maintenance,” the agency said.
Change in procedure
The CRA also notes that it has changed the way it shares information with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
The two entities are supposed to share information to ensure Canadians are “not mistakenly applying for both EI and the CRB,” the CRA says. Error Code 026 is specifically related to this issue, the statement said.
On Thursday, the day CBC News first asked about the number of people unable to receive benefits, ESDC and the CRA “began a process” to ensure shared information was updated on a daily basis, the CRA said.
“The CRA continues to keep our clients, the individuals who are relying on these benefits for support, top of mind. Our goal is to provide a simple, efficient service experience for Canadians while also taking steps to ensure that benefits payments are going to those who are eligible to receive them.”