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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
1 Jul 2023


NextImg:CRA Fires 20 Employees, Probes Hundreds for Unduly Claiming CERB Benefits

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has fired 20 employees while investigating about 600 others for unduly applying for COVID-19 financial aid benefits.

CRA spokesperson Sylvie Branch confirmed on June 30 that the agency is investigating 600 of its workers for “inappropriately” claiming the $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) while they were employed with the CRA, reported the National Post.

Ms. Branch also confirmed that the agency has terminated the employment of 20 of those workers, while the number is likely to increase as the internal review continues.

The CERB was rolled out in March 2020 to provide financial relief to those who lost their sources of income due to reasons related to the COVID-19 outbreak. People who were employed but not receiving income because of disruptions to their work due to COVID-19 were also eligible for CERB, but they had to be earning less than $1,000 per month when submitting their claims.

The landing page for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit is seen in Toronto on Aug. 10, 2020. (Giordano Ciampini/The Canadian Press)

The CRA had previously announced that it was reviewing the issue, though at the time, Federal Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier did not disclose the number of federal employees who were fired for defrauding the pandemic relief subsidy program.

“The specific number of terminations is too small to disclose without creating a privacy risk that could lead to one or more of the individuals being identified,” she said in an Inquiry of Ministry, first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

The CRA is not the only federal department that has fired its own employees for defrauding the CERB program.

Mary Crescenzi, assistant deputy minister of the Integrity Services Branch (ISB) of Service Canada, told the House of Commons public accounts committee in February that 49 individuals with the agency had been fired for misrepresenting their situation when they applied for the benefit. The ISB is a program operated by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).

A 2022 report from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada said both the ESDC and the CRA had “identified employees that claimed COVID-19 benefits.” The report also noted that $4.6 billion of overpayments were made to ineligible recipients of benefits for individuals, while an estimated “$27.4 billion of payments to individuals and employers should be investigated further.”

As of April 2023, more than 600,000 Canadians who have received CERB payments but were deemed ineligible have not repaid the debt, according to an Inquiry of Ministry, released on March 29, requested by NDP MP Daniel Blaiki.

The CERB program was closed in September 2020, and those still unemployed had their cases transferred to the employment insurance system.

Isaac Teo, Matthew Horwood, and Peter Wilson contributed to this report.