June 2, 2021
Over the course of the pandemic, the federal government doled out more than $9 million in relief funding to people who had died prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to federal government documents — and the estates of those who received the money won’t need to pay it back.
In June 2020, the Liberal government announced one-time payments of $600 to Canadians with disabilities, to help defray the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic. All total, 1.7 million Canadians — living and dead — received funding under this program.
The documents, first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, an online Ottawa news outlet, show benefit payments were also made to 4,637 people with addresses outside of Canada, but they do not give a monetary value for the total amount paid out.
The information is contained in a response from Employment and Social Development Canada to an inquiry of ministry, made by Jamie Schmale, a Conservative member of Parliament from Ontario.
“This one-time payment was intended to provide financial support to the person with the disability. Caregivers, survivors, and dependents were not eligible for this payment,” the documents say. “If an individual was eligible for more than one of the disability programs captured by the eligibility criteria, they only received one one-time payment to persons with disabilities.”
This money was paid to those who had valid 2020 Disability Tax Credit certificates, and were eligible as of July 1, 2020 for various other disability programs from, for example, Veterans Affairs Canada or Canada Pension Plan Disability.
The government says the payments made to the deceased happened because families of those who have died need to update their loved one’s information with each government department or program — and may not have done so.
“In some cases, information for persons with disabilities may not have been up-to-date because the Government did not receive the individual’s updated personal information, or because of late or incomplete tax filing,” the document says.
Those administering programs, such as the Canada Revenue Agency and Veterans Affairs Canada, said they did exclude those for whom they had updated death information.
The documents say payments totalling $9.2 million were made to 15,398 people who had died, but were eligible for the Disability Tax Credit. The estates of another 11 people eligible for Veterans Affairs Canada programming on its own, or in combination with the tax credit, received a total of $6,600.
The government said that while any overpayments made under the program will “be accrued in the financial accounts of the Department of Employment and Social Development as debts owed to the Crown,” these one-time COVID-19 benefits sent to dead Canadians will not need to be repaid.
The government explained that since the 2020 Disability Tax Credit is good for an entire year, “their estate was eligible to receive this payment.”
The Opposition Conservatives said the payments are another example of “Liberal mismanagement” of taxpayer money and called on the government to claw back the money.
“The simple fact is that Canadians can’t afford more of this Liberal incompetence,” said Raquel Dancho, Conservative shadow minister for future workforce development and disability inclusion, in a statement. “That’s why Canada’s Conservatives are calling on the Liberal government to recoup this money and actually spend it on Canadians with disabilities.”