TikTok has become a popular creative outlet for young Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.  And some of those users are boasting about how they’re spending emergency aid payments received through the government’s main income support program — the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

TikTok downloads have surged in recent months as users enjoy its offering of quirky videos and lip-syncing dance routines, pushing its valuation to more than US$100 billion, according to Bloomberg. However, the app's owner, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., has faced scrutiny from critics worried the company shares its massive trove of user data with the Chinese government. TikTok has repeatedly denied receiving Chinese government requests for user data.

A BNN Bloomberg review of certain CERB-related posts on the app highlights a range of comical and braggy videos. In one TikTok titled: “How I’m spending my CERB money,” user Jason Chen flashes a wish list of items, such as a Louis Vuitton wallet and Alexander McQueen sneakers.  Andrew Stewart joked in a post that college kids in debt will instead spend their CERB cheques on a NBA2K20 video game or Gucci designer belts, while Christina Nguyen highlighted her pandemic purchase of a Nintendo Switch in a post titled “Quarantine makin’ me mad cash.”


The government be blessing us doe 😭😭😭 ##CERB ##canada ##toronto ##fyp

♬ GREEDY x TREASURE - conradrocha

Another common theme in the CERB posts on TikTok is a frequent reference to the prime minister as “Daddy Trudeau.”

In one post, user Ciara Maesky writes: “I just want to say thank you to our daddy Justin Trudeau,” as she opens a delivery box in her video to reveal a newly purchased MacBook Air.  Eduarda Loureiro reveals Shein clothing items she purchased in a TikTok titled “thanks daddy Trudeau for funding dis.”  Another user, tntrng_, opens a package from Aritzia in a post labelled “Thanks Daddy Trudeau!!”


I just want to say thankyou to our daddy Justin Trudeau 😘😂 ##fyp ##justintrudeau

♬ just did a good thing - lucaselvis

None of the TikTok users mentioned in this article responded to BNN Bloomberg's request for comment.

To date, the government has paid out nearly $60 billion in CERB benefits.  The Finance Department recently estimated it will spend $80 billion on CERB this year, as part its expected $343-billion deficit.

The government also earmarked $9 billion in financial aid for students not eligible for CERB, through the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).

Spokespeople for both the Minister of Employment and Minister of Finance did not immediately respond to BNN Bloomberg’s requests for comment.