WINDSOR, ONT. -- Some Windsor-Essex politicians are asking the federal government to reconsider CERB repayment for low-income families.

Brian Masse NDP MP for Windsor West and Lisa Gretzky MPP for Windsor West were joined by Legal Assistance of Windsor staff lawyerLaura Stairs and contract lawyer Sarah Voegeli, to respond to the federal government’s decision on CERB repayments for low-income families.

Masse said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant economic strain on Canadians and CERB repayment will undoubtedly increase the helplessness of those already struggling financially, due to unclear messaging from the federal government on eligibility.

He said because there were no checks in place to ensure applicants were eligible, many of these individuals could be faced with having to repay thousands of dollars causing dire financial hardship.

The government made an announcement on Feb. 9, to provide relief for self-employed individuals. Masse said although it was promising, it falls short of realizing the impact of enforcing CERB repayment on low-income families.

“The Liberal government should never have asked Canadians who did nothing wrong to repay the CERB. By doing so, the government has placed families in a stressful situation. Low income individuals and families who were already struggling through the pandemic saw CERB as a lifeline during an unprecedented crisis,” said Masse.

Legal Assistance of Windsor said that the lack of clarity around CERB eligibility and repayment requirements has made it challenging to properly advise clients facing these uncertainties.

“LAW is preparing for the aftereffects of receiving CERB, which we anticipate we will continue to see over the next few years. Receipt of CERB has ripple effects into client’s social assistance, rent geared to income housing and now, potentially receipt of federal benefits distributed through the income tax system if clients are required to repay,” said Voegeli.