Canada Revenue Agency Fires 120 Staff for Improper COVID-19 Benefit Claims

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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) recently terminated the employment of 120 staff members in response to an internal examination, finding these individuals had improperly claimed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Previous reports in June disclosed that the CRA had parted ways with 20 employees for inappropriate claim of the benefit, with 600 more cases under scrutiny. The subsequent review resulted in an additional 120 employees being laid off.

The agency, in a statement, assured that continuing investigations and subsequent disciplinary procedures were in progress. The statement further asserted the seriousness with which the CRA regards any form of misconduct. It underlined the agency’s unwavering commitment to maintain the integrity of the country’s tax and benefits systems. The CRA aims to be a trusted, fair organization in the eyes of Canadians, affirming that any identified misconduct would be dealt with via appropriate action.

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Repayment has been demanded from those who unlawfully claimed payments. While the CRA will conduct reviews and disciplinary measures internally, they have not ruled out the possibility of some cases being referred to law enforcement should any criminal behavior arise.

The CERB program had offered financial support of up to $2,000 a month to Canadians whose employment was disrupted due to pandemic-related restrictions.

A spokesperson remarked in June that the 600 dubious cases were rather insignificant in proportion to the agency’s total workforce of 60,000 individuals. The spokesperson further highlighted that some CRA employees might have been justified in their eligibility for payments at the onset of the pandemic due to temporary or student contracts. Consequently, approximately 30 employees that were part of the review were found to be rightfully eligible.

In conclusion, the apparent misconduct of a handful of staff in no way taints the dedication and integrity of the overwhelming majority of the CRA’s workforce, who tirelessly carry out their responsibilities in serving Canadians.

Canada’s auditor general disclosed last December that the federal government overcompensated approximately $4.6 billion in COVID-19 aid to ineligible individuals. The Minister of National Revenue, Marie-Claude Bibeau’s office reiterated that the CRA’s investigation was not to be taken lightly and was far from over. The Minister emphasized that Canadians’ trust and confidence in the agency, primarily established on the ethical conduct and honesty of its employees, were fundamental to Canada’s tax system. She underscored the imposed disciplinary measures reflected a policy of “zero tolerance.”