Letters: CERB advice offered for deaf people

Dear Editor,

Re: “Reader calls out for CERB help,” Letters, July 9.

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 I have some advice for Mr.Tai. I have dealt with similar problems helping my elderly working deaf uncle apply for CERB.

For people 75 years and older, the CRA does not let people apply for CERB online or through the phone line.

They have to call a special number and speak directly with a CRA agent. Of course, in the case of my uncle, he is deaf so a normal phone call won’t do.

They also asked him to call their TTY line (it’s kind of like texting, but older, worse technology).

His English is pretty bad and we never used TTY before so I told the CRA agent, and we had to wait about four days and a CRA agent who knew Chinese spoke to us.

She tried to verify his identity through the phone. The process was very cumbersome and in the end, he wasn’t able to verify his identity.

They asked him to confirm his address in English. How are you supposed to do that when you don’t know English and are deaf?

At one point, they asked him to read his postal code. He doesn’t know the alphabet or what it sounds like.... The whole thing was very stupid and awkward.

I suggested various other ways to confirm his identity including getting his information notarized, but ultimately was told CRA does not have any protocol in place for people who fall outside the typical means of applying for CERB.

At that point I decided to re-explore the TTY telephone option. So after some research it turns out that iPhones have a TTY function that can be enabled. I used the TTY phone to call the CRA TTY line.

I texted all the CERB application info (address, birthday, SIN, 2019 income tax return line 150, and name of person/company who filed tax return) to the CRA agent and the application went through.

I managed to do this successfully twice before my uncle went back to work. 

So please tell Mr. Tai to find a TTY phone and get someone they trust to apply for them. It works. 

Raymond Chow


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