VANCOUVER – Yesterday, NDP MP Don Davies sent a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau calling on the federal government to ban third parties from collecting fees for assistance with Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) applications.
Davies’ request comes in response to a scam that has targeted at least 77 seniors in Vancouver, along with reports that tax consultants are charging clients for help with CERB applications.
“Making money from people desperate enough to need emergency financial assistance is unconscionable,” said Davies. “These exploitative fees should never have been allowed, and should be prohibited immediately.”
A woman identifying herself as Joanne, and another individual working with her, have allegedly been contacting seniors in Vancouver and offering to sign them up for a government benefit in exchange for a 10 percent fee.
Most of the targeted seniors have been unaware that the promised benefit was the CERB, or that they likely did not qualify to receive it. As a result, in addition to the hundreds of dollars in illegitimate fees they were convinced to pay, these seniors will likely have to pay the benefit back.
“It is despicable that there are people willing to take advantage of seniors like this,” said NDP Critic for Seniors Scott Duvall. “These are really stressful times and Canadians are looking for help figuring out what government support they qualify for — it can be confusing and overwhelming. The government needs to step in and make sure that seniors and other vulnerable people are protected from this predatory behaviour.”
Recent media reports have also confirmed that Canada Tax Reviews, an Ontario-based tax consultancy, is charging clients a $160 fee to “assist” them with their monthly CERB applications. This would cost an individual a total of $640 if they qualify for the full four months the benefit is available.
“Assistance with CERB applications is available for free through MP community offices, a toll-free federal phone number, and some tax service firms,” said Davies. “The federal government must protect vulnerable Canadians by putting an end to these indefensible CERB fees immediately.”