KAMLOOPS — A Kamloops man is having to prove that he is alive after being declared deceased by the federal government.
The problem began when 65-year-old Bryan Kupiak's social insurance number was mixed up with his mother's following her death.
87-year-old May Schmidt died on September 23, and after her cremation Kupiak took her ashes to Winnipeg to be buried there.
"I come back home on Thanksgiving day, and the next day I look in the mailbox and I find out that I no longer exist," Kupiak said.
The notification came in the form of an Old Age Security statement addressed to Kupiak's estate.
"There was a phone number to call, and I called this number, and I talked to Mohammed on the other end, and he says, 'can you just hold for a little bit?,' so I held for three or four minutes, and he comes back on and I said, 'tell me, Mohammed, am I dead or alive?' And he said, 'you're deceased.'"
According to Kupiak, his social insurance number was switched with his mother's on her statement of death.
"My pension's cut off, everything's cut off," Kupiak said. "I had to make sure I still had a driver's license, little things that you wouldn't even think about. I phoned the bank to make sure nothing happens to my accounts."
Meanwhile, Kupiak has been contacting various levels of government, and is working closely with Service Canada and the office of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Cathy McLeod to try and sort out the issue.
"Certainly I know that there have been cases over the years where people have been declared deceased when, indeed, they are very much alive," McLeod said, "and, of course, you can imagine the challenges that actually creates for Canadians. It's not the first time that these sorts of things have happened, but certainly we do try to support people in whatever way we can."
Kupiak has been told it may take a month or longer to correct the error.
"The stress alone is too much," he said, "it's too much, you know I'm not even finished grieving about my mother, I'm still doing stuff for my mother, and now I've got to do things for myself, so I can continue for my mother."
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