OPEN LETTER to Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

I am writing you today to request that your office undertake to address the delays and technical errors that my constituents are experiencing with the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), and the new temporary changes to Employment Insurance (EI).
I have heard from two different constituents who received the same error message, COV-26, while attempting to apply for the CRB. The error apparently appears because CRA deems that the applicants have an active EI claim within the last 52 weeks which prevents them from accessing the CRB. However, both my constituents have not received any EI benefits in the last 52 weeks. They applied for EI when the pandemic first started and were transitioned to CERB as that was the policy in place.

"October 16, 2020
 
 
Dear Minister Freeland and Minister Qualtrough,

Open Letter RE: COV-26 and other errors with the CRB and EI application system
 
I am writing you today to request that your office undertake to address the delays and technical errors that my constituents are experiencing with the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), and the new temporary changes to Employment Insurance (EI).
 
I have heard from two different constituents who received the same error message, COV-26, while attempting to apply for the CRB. The error apparently appears because CRA deems that the applicants have an active EI claim within the last 52 weeks which prevents them from accessing the CRB. However, both my constituents have not received any EI benefits in the last 52 weeks. They applied for EI when the pandemic first started and were transitioned to CERB as that was the policy in place.
 
One of the constituents continued following up with Service Canada and found out why this error was appearing. He reached a Service Canada agent via phone and learned that his EI claim was in fact denied earlier this year. The Service Canada agent instructed him to submit the letter of denial to the CRA which would hopefully fix the issue with the COV-26 error. However, my constituent was unable to get a hold of CRA due to the high call volume. 
 
My other constituent who received the same COV-26 error upon applying for CRB contacted CRA, and the CRA agent asked my constituent to obtain the letter of denial from Service Canada then fax it over to CRA. This is problematic for my constituent since they do not have a fax machine, and that this technology is no longer commonplace.
 
In addition to the COV-26 errors, another one of my constituents have been experiencing issues with the new EI policies. He contacted our office because he was not receiving the new EI rate set at the minimum floor rate of $500/week as stated in the government website. My staff
 
 
 
 
contacted the Service Canada MP line and the agent confirmed that my constituent’s EI rates is based on the old EI policies, and that the constituent needs to call Service Canada to terminate his old EI claim and re-apply in order to receive the new benefits. My constituent attempted to follow the instructions that the Service Canada agent provided. However, upon getting through to the Service Canada phone line after a five hour wait, the operator told my constituent that he was misinformed, and that he would not be eligible for the new EI with the adjusted rates if he were to terminate his current EI claim. However, the agent did not offer any alternative as to how this could be rectified.  I hope you will agree that this contradicting information that Service Canada is providing my staff and my constituents is unacceptable. In addition, such technical problems is resulting in a delay for my constituents to get their application processed so they could receive the recovery benefits that they desperately need. 
 
With the information provided above, I ask that these contradicting and confusing messages from CRA and Service Canada be addressed immediately.
 
Thank you in advance for your attention on this urgent matter, and I look forward to your prompt response.
 
 
Sincerely,
jenny signature - jpg.jpg
Jenny Kwan
Member of Parliament for Vancouver East"

 

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