A $133M un­cashed cheques cache

OAS, CPP, EI pay­ments un­claimed

Calgary Herald - - NP - CHRISTO­PHER NARDI

OT­TAWA • A bit short on cash? One fed­eral depart­ment is sit­ting on a wind­fall of nearly $133 mil­lion in un­cashed cheques by Cana­dian tax­pay­ers who re­ceived at least one of 10 ben­e­fits in the last 20 years.

Did you once claim Em­ploy­ment In­sur­ance (EI) and for­got to cash one of your cheques? Maybe you re­ceived money via the Canada Pen­sion Plan (CPP) and sud­denly stopped re­ceiv­ing cheques af­ter a move?

If so, Em­ploy­ment and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Canada (ESDC) and the Re­ceiver Gen­eral of Canada may have money for you.

Ac­cord­ing to data ob­tained by the Na­tional Post, ESDC has over 323,477 un­claimed or un­cashed cheques is­sued from at least 10 dif­fer­ent so­cial pro­grams and ben­e­fits as of Septem­ber 30, 2019. To­tal value: $133 mil­lion.

Over half of that amount is from the Canada Pen­sion Plan, where nearly $71 mil­lion is ly­ing dor­mant via 196,696 un­cashed cheques.

The sec­ond largest cache of un­claimed money is from the Old Age Se­cu­rity (OAS) pen­sion, a monthly pay­ment avail­able to el­i­gi­ble se­niors. Over 70,313 OAS cheques are still wait­ing to be cashed, worth just over $46 mil­lion.

An­other $8 mil­lion worth of cheques are sit­ting in ESDC’S Gen­eral Ac­counts Payable.

Other amounts are from fed­eral pro­grams that dis­ap­peared long ago, such as the 1,258 un­cashed cheques re­lated to the Gov­ern­ment An­nu­ities pro­gram. The sale of those an­nu­ities ended with an Act of Par­lia­ment in 1975, though the gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to pay out some of them to­day.

If you’ve once ap­plied for a Canada Ap­pren­tice Loan, a pro­gram that pro­vides up to $4,000 in in­ter­est-free loans to help pay for tech­ni­cal train­ing, it may be your lucky day. ESDC is look­ing for the owner of a sin­gle un­cashed cheque worth … $3.87.

ESDC says ev­ery time a cheque is sent back to the depart­ment from ei­ther OAS, EI or CPP, public ser­vants do their best to in­ves­ti­gate and reis­sue the pay­ment as quickly as pos­si­ble.

But in some cases, the orig­i­nal owner is nowhere to be found.

“In cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, the OAS, CPP, or EI cheque pay­ments will re­main un­cashed for rea­sons be­yond the con­trol of the Depart­ment. These pay­ments re­main avail­able to the ben­e­fi­cia­ries un­til in­for­ma­tion is re­ceived to en­able the Depart­ment to re­lease the pay­ments,” ex­plained ESDC spokesper­son Marie-eve Sigouin-cam­peau.

As of now, there is no on­line tool avail­able to Cana­di­ans to quickly check if they have any un­claimed amounts from ESDC.

“Should Cana­di­ans have rea­son to be­lieve they have un­cashed cheques, they can con­tact Ser­vice Canada. If a per­son has an un­cashed cheque, once their iden­tity has been val­i­dated, the Depart­ment will take the nec­es­sary steps to in­ves­ti­gate and reis­sue a cheque to them,” Sigouin-cam­peau ex­plained.

ESDC isn’t the only fed­eral or­ga­ni­za­tion sit­ting on un­claimed tax­pay­ers’ money.

In March, the Na­tional Post re­ported that the Canada Rev­enue Agency (CRA) was sit­ting on roughly $1 bil­lion in un­cashed cheques owed to five mil­lion Cana­di­ans.

In or­der to find each owner, the agency cre­ated an on­line ver­i­fi­ca­tion tool that ev­ery tax­payer can ac­cess via CRA’S web­site. Once logged in to the agency’s “My Ac­count” ser­vice, click on the “Un­cashed cheques” link at the bot­tom of the “Re­lated ser­vices” col­umn on the “Over­view” page.

Since then, CRA says Cana­di­ans have redeemed roughly 268,000 un­cashed cheques worth a to­tal of $63.7 mil­lion. That means there is still at least over $900 mil­lion wait­ing to be claimed and cashed by tax­pay­ers.

“A cheque is added to the ‘un­cashed list’ if it is not redeemed within six months of be­ing is­sued. There­fore, the to­tal num­ber and value of un­cashed cheques fluc­tu­ates daily, as more cheques are added to the list, while oth­ers may have been redeemed,” spokesper­son Éti­enne Bi­ram said by email.

He added that pay­outs were de­layed by the COVID-19 pan­demic, but the pro­gram is now back to run­ning full speed. Reg­u­lar pro­cess­ing times for un­cashed cheque claims is four to six weeks.

Other than CRA and ESDC, the Bank of Canada is also look­ing for the own­ers of nearly $900 mil­lion in un­claimed bank ac­counts, some of which date back to the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury.

As of Dec. 31, 2019, Canada’s cen­tral bank was hold­ing on to over 2.1 mil­lion “un­claimed bal­ances” worth $888 mil­lion that be­long to ei­ther in­di­vid­u­als or businesses.

But the Bank of Canada doesn’t have the re­sources to hunt down ev­ery sin­gle owner of the for­got­ten ac­counts. So it set up an on­line registry for any­one to find out if they or a loved one has money wait­ing for them.

To ac­cess it, click on the “Un­claimed Bal­ances” link un­der the “Core Func­tions” tab on the Bank of Canada’s web­site to find the search por­tal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.