NDP leader Jagmeet Singh gestures during a news conference Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh gestures during a news conference Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Singh says NDP won’t support Liberal bill that would jail, fine CERB fraudsters

Singh says new criminal penalties will hit poor and racialized people harder

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it is irresponsible and wrong-headed for the Liberal government to draft a bill that would fine or imprison people who made fraudulent claims under the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Singh says a bill the Liberals are proposing would hurt the very people that the CERB was designed to help — vulnerable people who have faced financial hardship because of COVID-19.

He also says it was hypocritical for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take a knee on Parliament Hill during Friday’s nationwide anti-racism demonstrations while such a bill was being drafted.

He says the NDP was given a copy of the draft bill on the weekend by the Liberals, ahead of a sitting of the House of Commons tomorrow, and his party can’t support it as is.

Singh says new criminal penalties will hit poor and racialized people harder, and that the tax system should be used to recover funds that should not have been paid, rather than fining or jailing people during a pandemic.

Singh says all parties previously agreed that people should not be unduly penalized if they applied for benefits in good faith.

“They’re effectively opening up the floodgates to retroactively charging people just for applying … That is the opposite of what we should be doing during a pandemic,” he said Tuesday.

“I am outraged at the Liberal government that Prime Minister Trudeau can take a knee on one day while at the same time the Liberal government is drafting a bill that’s going to penalize potentially people who applied in good faith but maybe didn’t meet a certain criteria. That is wrong.”

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre wouldn’t comment on the legislation that has yet to be tabled in the House of Commons, or on whether the Tories support extending the CERB.

He said federal program should focus on encouraging people to get back to work.

“There’s no way you can replace the workforce with a government program,” Poilievre said, in an appearance with the Conservative Treasury Board critic Tim Uppal.

“That’s why the economy needs to open up and people need to have the opportunity to go back to their jobs, to earn a paycheque.”

The most recent federal figures show 8.41 million people have applied for the CERB, with $43.51 billion in payments as of June 4.

The figures surpassed anything the government originally expected, which is why the Finance Department recently updated its spending projections to put a $60-billion price tag on the measure, up from $35 billion.

At the same time, the government is revising downward how much it will spend on a wage subsidy program to $45 billion from $73 billion.

All the spending, and changes in plans, require a thorough review by the federal auditor general, Poilievre said. The Tories are calling on the government to increase the auditor general’s budget by about $10.8 million.

The watchdog has said that’s roughly what it needs to review COVID-19 and infrastructure spending without having other work fall by the wayside.

READ MORE: Payments for CERB top $40 billion as feds open doors for commercial rent help

READ MORE: Canadians awake to extra COVID-19 emergency benefit money, feds clarify changes

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaCoronavirusJagmeet SinghJustin Trudeau

Just Posted

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read