CRA Fires 120 Staff over Improper CERB Claims Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

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In the aftermath of an internal investigatory operation, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has terminated the employment of 120 members of its staff due to “inappropriate” acquisition of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) during the COVID-19 outbreak.

CERB was a financial aid program attached to the pandemic relief efforts of the Canadian government. It provided Canadians with up to $2,000 per month if pandemic restrictions influenced their employment status.

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The initial report from the CRA in June stated that 20 employees had been ousted due to improper receipt of funds. Furthermore, 600 potential incidents were under the investigative microscope. Following an extensive case-by-case review, the agency announced on Friday that an additional 100 employees had been relieved of their duties as a result.

The claims and subsequent disciplinary procedures continue as the CRA reaffirms its commitment to an unimpeachable tax and benefits system and its pledge to maintain public trust in the agency. The statement from the CRA underscores the agency’s dedication to handling identified impropriety with appropriate corrective action.

All recipients who claimed the CERB funds despite their ineligibility will face a repayment requirement. The CRA, conducting internal assessments and disciplinary actions, has also announced that some instances may be forwarded to law enforcement if criminal activities are suspected.

A CRA spokesperson noted that the 600 suspect cases constituted a proportionately small figure given that the agency has a substantial national workforce of 60,000. The spokesperson added that some CRA personnel might have been valid beneficiaries of the funds during the early phase of the pandemic due to their temporary or student contractual status.

The CRA reiterated that being a current employee does not establish automatic ineligibility for the CERB. As an example, they pointed out around 30 employees under review who have been deemed eligible for the benefit.

The message from the CRA concludes by emphasizing that the actions of a few members of staff do not implicate the broader workforce of over 60,000 diligent and hardworking CRA employees who serve Canadians in a commendable manner.

The National Revenue Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s office released a statement in response to the ongoing CRA investigation, reaffirming that the agency’s respect and public trust are foundational pillars of the Canadian tax system. Thanks to the excellent ethics and integrity demonstrated by the CRA employees, these disciplinary actions underscore the agency’s zero-tolerance stance towards the misconduct, Bibeau stressed.

CRA’s actions come in the wake of a report from Canada’s Auditor General in December, indicating that the federal government had inadvertently overpaid about $4.6 billion in COVID-19 aid to ineligible recipients.