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National

CRA says it has $1.4 billion in uncashed cheques sitting in its coffers

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Ottawa –  The Canada Revenue Agency says it will be sending e-notifications about uncashed cheques to 25,000 Canadians this month.

The federal agency says it has approximately $1.4 billion worth of uncashed cheques in its coffers that have accumulated over the years, with some dating back to 1998.

Each year, the CRA issues millions of payments in the form of benefits and refunds, but some cheques remain uncashed for various reasons, including misplacing a cheque or changing addresses.

Another 25,000 Canadians will receive e-notifications in November, followed by 25,000 more in May 2023.

The CRA launched a campaign in February 2020 to get Canadians to cash their cheques and says it has so far returned more than $800 million back to taxpayers.

The CRA says Canadians can check if they have uncashed payments by logging in to or signing up for an online CRA account.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 8, 2022.

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Disaster

Newfoundland fishers face livelihood questions after Fiona storm damage

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By Holly McKenzie-Sutter in Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou

Colourful fishing stages bobbed in the water by Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou Tuesday as Cliff Bateman watched from his property.

Days earlier, the picturesque buildings that are used to land and process fish were upright before post-tropical storm Fiona swept them into the ocean by the southwestern Newfoundland town.

Bateman watched the storm toss them through the water.

“It’s a big loss, I tell you that,” he said from inside his kitchen. The now-retired fisherman said he stored a priceless accumulation of gear and history inside the structures that were passed down through his family, some built over 100 years ago.

“You work all your life for it, and in an hour, everything gone.”

Fiona’s path of destruction through Atlantic Canada heavily damaged the fishing industry and communities along Newfoundland’s southwestern coast have not been spared. Fishers and property owners are awaiting word about possible government assistance and are left wondering whether it will be enough to fill the gaps.

In Burnt Islands, about a 20-minute drive west from Rose Blanche, Troy Hardy stepped off his boat Tuesday to look over the scene. Fishing stages by the community harbour were badly damaged, destroying people’s workstations and spilling their equipment into the sea.

Some people, like Hardy, had less severe losses, but of the roughly nine fishers in the community, he said “it’s safe to say every one of them was affected in some way.”

“Everybody’s livelihood is greatly impacted by what happened, to the point where you’re just trying to look around and see how you’re going to make it work for the upcoming season,” Hardy said.

On top of personal gear, a building shared between fishers for their work and storage of their catches was badly damaged, Hardy said. He expects people will be scrambling to salvage and source equipment before next spring’s seasons.

“It’s a big impact for the fish harvesters, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s very worrisome.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.

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Alberta

Alberta plans to resist federal efforts to seize prohibited weapons: Shandro

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CALGARY — The Alberta government is taking steps to oppose federal firearms prohibition legislation and the potential seizure of thousands of assault-style weapons.

Since May 2020, Ottawa has prohibited more than 1,500 different models of assault-style firearms from being used or sold in Canada.

It has committed to establishing a buyback program to remove those firearms from communities.

Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said he received a letter from the federal minister of public safety asking for police resources to begin confiscating firearms beginning this fall.

He said the federal government is “fearmongering” by labelling the guns as “assault style,” which Shandro called a move to scare Canadians unfamiliar with firearms.

Shandro said at a news conference Monday that many of the weapons do not pose unusual danger or possess any additional mechanical capability.

“This is politically motivated confiscation, pure and simple,” he said. “And so I responded to (Public Safety) Minister (Marco) Mendicino by telling him no. Alberta will not assist the federal government in this or any federal effort to strip lawfully obtained personal property from our residents.”

Shandro said Alberta will not agree to having RCMP officers act as “confiscation agents” and will protest any such move under the provincial-federal agreement that governs policing.

“Despite taking this step, the federal government may still direct the RCMP to serve as confiscation agents,” Shandro said. “To prevent this from happening, Alberta will formally dispute any attempt to do so by invoking Article 23 of that agreement.”

Alberta also plans to seek intervener status in six ongoing judicial review applications challenging the constitutionality of the legislation.

Mendicino’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shandro’s position is supported by Alberta’s chief firearms officer.

“I have previously expressed strong opposition to the federal government’s plans to prohibit and confiscate some 30,000 lawfully acquired firearms from Albertans,” said Teri Bryant.

“The planned confiscations represent a fatal approach to reducing violence in Canadian society and are unwarranted and unacceptable infringements on the property rights and personal freedoms of Albertans.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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