Regina domestic violence group concerned about people losing homes after CERB clawbacks
SOFIA House says social services taking back CERB payments could put people out on street
The executive director of a domestic violence group in Regina is concerned about the provincial government's plans to take back Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments from people on social assistance.
The Ministry of Social Services has said it plans to take CERB payments back from clients on social assistance, as they are not allowed to make money outside of the program.
SOFIA House, a second-stage facility that allows people fleeing domestic violence the chance to get into longer term housing, says some of its clients are going to be forced onto the street as a result.
"We're very worried that if people's income assistance benefits are put on hold, people won't be able to move on from crisis shelters and that people wouldn't be able to access safe housing in a quick matter or at all," said executive director Tmira Marchment.
"We're really hoping that we can work with the ministry on cases like this."
Marchment said the people who live in the group's apartments pay rent and are often on social assistance.
She said people on assistance who applied for CERB may not have understood the consequences for doing so.
"Maybe they were coerced somehow into applying, or maybe they just have underlying issues like addictions or mental health or they are facing severe poverty," she said.
"I think if we now put them in a situation where they could potentially lose their housing, I don't think that's the right response."
Ultimately, she said people in crisis should be given some leeway in this situation.
"I think it's time for us to really have a little bit of leniency here in these situations, especially when it comes to victims of domestic violence," she said.
Marchment said the province has indicated it will work with the group on a case-by-case basis.
According to a national study from Maytree and the Metcalf Foundation, provinces are divided on how they handle the CERB program.
For example, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Yukon completely exempt CERB from social assistance programs and allow people to keep both.
Other provinces like Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Newfoundland claw back all social assistance money dollar-for-dollar, depending on how much money the person received from CERB.
With files from The Morning Edition