PROFILE PHOTO COURTESY OF KIMBERLEY KUFAAS PHOTOGRAPHY Tyson’s Thoughts is a column posted online at northislandgazette.com and in print the following Wednesday. Have some thoughts about my thoughts? Email editor@northislandgazette.com

Liberal bill to fine/jail CERB ‘fraudsters’ is ridiculous

You can’t get blood from a stone, so why bother stoning those that are already bleeding?

I’ve definitely got a few thoughts on the proposed bill from the federal government that aims to fine and/or give jail time to “fraudsters” who applied for CERB when they weren’t supposed to.

But first, I figure I will take a quick detour and respond to a Facebook comment that was posted on my last editorial about universal basic income calling me a “socialist.”

Am I a socialist because I think a universal basic income system is easier and more efficient than CERB or other government funded programs? Labelling people for the sake of labelling them is never a good thing, and it generally makes you look bad when you do it.

It’s funny, over the five years that I’ve worked for the North Island Gazette, I’ve been called “apolitical” for not writing about politics enough, a “conservative” just because I work for a company owned by Black Press, and now a “socialist” for speaking my mind on universal basic income.

I never thought that becoming a journalist would mean I’d have to declare a major, but here we are.

To put it as straight forward as possible, I like to think outside the box. I would never paint myself into a political corner where one side is always right and the other sides are always wrong.

With that out of the way, let’s go back to the original topic of people “defrauding” the system. On one hand I get it, the government doesn’t want people taking advantage of CERB. On the other hand, can anyone explain why exactly politicians feel the need to attack those who felt vulnerable enough in the first place to actually go out and apply for the government funding?

I highly doubt there are “fraudsters” who were knowingly double dipping when applying for CERB. When CERB first rolled out the government decided to use an honour system, mainly to speed up the process of applying, and said they would be dealing with any “fraudsters” during tax time. Now the government has seemingly changed its mind.

Why not just do what you said you would do in the first place by dealing with these people during tax time? I’m actually mystified the government thinks punishing people who are already in a difficult spot financially is even worth the time and effort. Remember the old saying ‘You can’t get blood from a stone’? Well, why bother stoning those that are already bleeding?

Bottom line, it’s good the government failed to secure opposition support for the legislation imposing new fines and jail time for people who filed “fraudulent” CERB claims.

Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy. His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email: editor@northislandgazette.com

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