Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
The approach is so very flawed, Madam Chair, in that it attempts to punish people as opposed to encouraging them. I think the Liberals have been overly influenced by the Conservative Party’s cries that there’s vast fraud, that Canadians are cheating. The reality is that if you want to create an incentive to go back to work, you don’t threaten people. What you do is create a sliding scale. You let people continue to receive CERB, but maybe less as they begin to earn more, so that you have a transition on a sliding scale to go into the wage subsidy or into CERB.
I ask the honourable minister this: How can it be considered fair to say that someone isn’t eligible, even though they believed they were? The language in this bill, particularly at proposed paragraph 12.1(1)(e) in the penalties section, is an unreasonable determination that someone has violated the act and is subject to jail time and heavy fines.
Hon. Carla Qualtrough (Delta)
Madam Chair, because of parliamentary privilege, I can’t and won’t speak to specific acts of a piece of law that hasn’t actually been introduced in the House, but I’ll tell you that what we’re trying to do is enhance our integrity measures. We’re working with those people who made an honest mistake, those who took advantage of returning to work when they were still receiving the CERB. We’re working with those people. We’re absolutely confident that those people will find a path forward.
We want to deal with intentional fraudsters, people who are criminally taking advantage of seniors. Members of this House have brought fact patterns to my attention and have said, “Please deal with these.” This is exactly what we’re trying to deal with, Madam Chair.