Dan Albas

COLUMN: Is parliament essential?

We need time to dig into the books and ensure that taxpayers are being respected

When the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit program was launched, government of Canada civil servants estimated the total costs of the program would be roughly $35 billion in this fiscal year.

However, we now know that the government is projecting CERB to cost up to $60 billion when it wraps up later this year.

We also now know that that the Trudeau Liberal government instructed civil servants to ignore fraudulent applications.

It has been revealed that instructions were given to approve applications that did not meet the CERB guidelines that were set by the Liberal government in the first place.

This is part of the reason why the revised total for the CERB program will be much higher than expected.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Should we ignore fraud?

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Questions remain about benefit packages

These significant expenditures will come up for debate shortly, and without regular parliament being in session, there will be only four hours of debate to scrutinize this additional spending.

This is completely unacceptable.

We need time to dig into the books and ensure that taxpayers are being respected.

Sadly, due to the Liberal government and their NDP allies, that will not happen.

Recognizing that CERB fraud has become a significant problem, the Liberal government has now announced what the media reports as a “CRA snitch line.”

Using this “snitch line,” suspected fraudulent claims may be reported.

This same method will also be accepting suspected fraud reports of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy programs.

Revenue Canada has confirmed it will take all necessary steps to recover any funds obtained by fraud.

The purpose of my report this week is not to criticize the government for taking these steps but rather to inform citizens of the efforts being undertaken by the government to address the problem of fraud, after the fact.

These are important challenges to be aware of.

These are challenges that would be important to include in debate in Ottawa.

Unfortunately, with just four hours of debate being made available, divided among all members of the House, it will be a challenge.

I remain of the strong view that it was a serious mistake for the NDP to support this Liberal government in shutting down parliament during this crisis.

My question this week: Do you believe regular sittings of Parliament must be resumed as a priority?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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