The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has terminated 120 staff members who were found to have improperly accessed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a statement released by the CRA on Friday, an internal investigation aimed at identifying agency employees who may have fraudulently claimed the benefit revealed approximately 600 questionable cases.
“Out of the approximately 600 cases, we can report that 120 individuals are no longer with the CRA as a result of this internal review,” the statement disclosed. “The investigations and disciplinary processes continue.”
The agency also clarified that any employees found to have improperly claimed the benefit will be obligated to reimburse the amount if they haven’t already. Furthermore, employees suspected of criminal behavior may find their cases forwarded to the police.
“When misconduct is identified, we ensure that the appropriate actions are taken to address it,” the statement added.
Initially, CERB provided $500 weekly benefits for workers who lost their jobs during the initial months of the pandemic in 2020. The agency noted that employment with the CRA did not automatically disqualify individuals from receiving the CERB. Temporary employees and those working on student contracts could have been eligible, depending on specific employment conditions.
“In this regard, roughly 30 employees that are part of this review have been found to be eligible so far,” according to the CRA statement.
In a separate statement, National Revenue Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau emphasized that the ongoing internal investigation should not cast a shadow over the overall integrity of the agency’s more than 60,000 employees.
“The CRA’s investigation into the employees who received the Canada emergency response benefit is being taken very seriously and is still ongoing,” Bibeau’s statement read, in French. “The disciplinary measures imposed show that for us it is zero tolerance.”