Volume 93, Issue 83

Wednesday, March 8, 2000


Bus might stop for graduate students

McGill gets sued over dismissal

Feds sorry about money mix-up

Council to vote on White Paper position

Border officials get new powers

CBC program sparks a gene therapy debate

Downtown parking a developing concern


Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus 1

Caught on campus 2

Caught on campus 3

Feds sorry about money mix-up

By Heather Buchan
Gazette Staff

Many university students undoubtedly suffered panic attacks last week after receiving letters stating they owed money on outstanding student loans, when in fact, they did not.

Each year, the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency issues notices to students who have outstanding debts which state their income tax refunds would be withheld. The letters are sent out based on information the agency receives from Human Resources Development Canada. This year, however, an error occurred in the conversion of data from the HRDC to the CCRA, said Ghyslain Charron, a spokesperson for the media relations unit at HRDC.

"Letters were sent to individuals who had paid off their loan or who had already declared bankruptcy," Charron said. He added the HRDC was in the process of trying to identify the individuals who were sent the wrong letter so they could send them a letter of apology.

There are currently no concrete numbers which reflect how many false letters were distributed, but the letters to remedy the problem would be sent out by the end of the week, he said. "We will ensure that the income tax refunds of those individuals are not withheld," he added.

Denise Doherty, a researcher with the Canadian Federation of Students, said this was not the first time a mistake of this nature had occurred. "There have been flaws since the Canada Student Loan System was developed in 1964," she said.

According to Doherty, the problems associated with keeping track of student loans have become worse since 1995, when the federal government washed its hands of the responsibility of administering the loans and gave banks total responsibility over them.

Mark Kissel, VP-education for the University Students' Council and Ontario chair for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said he had not received any complaints from students, but added he was very disappointed such a mistake could happen. "Implicating the wrong people doesn't give a very good impression of the HRDC," he said.

Ryan Dunford, government relations co-ordinator for CASA, said they too had not received any complaints from students or universities. "The HRDC contacted us immediately and resolved the problem. There was a swift resolution," he said.

Charron added any students who have received a letter incorrectly should contact the HRDC immediately.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000