CRA takes alleged pandemic benefits mishandling 'very seriously'

Agency terminates employees, launches investigation

CRA takes alleged pandemic benefits mishandling 'very seriously'

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has acted in response to concerns over the improper allocation of pandemic benefits payments by dismissing 20 employees and initiating an investigation into approximately 1% of its workforce.

According to an emailed statement from the CRA, around 600 employees are under examination and, as the review progresses, the CRA anticipates that the number of terminated employees may increase.  

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was introduced in 2020 to provide financial assistance to millions of Canadians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Targeted at both employed and self-employed individuals directly impacted by the shutdowns, eligible recipients received $2,000 per month to help alleviate the economic strain caused by the crisis.  

On Saturday morning, a spokesperson for the CRA confirmed the dismissals in a statement to “As the CRA is responsible for administering the Income Tax Act and many COVID-19 benefits, the highest standard of employee conduct must be upheld. The CRA understands the importance of transparency and integrity. The CRA also ensures that both Canadians and its employees are aware that the CRA takes any form of wrongdoing very seriously."

The spokesperson added that each review is being handled on a case-by-case basis and will have its own outcome. “In addition to the disciplinary measures, serious misconduct could lead to a revocation of an employee's reliability status which is a condition of employment at CRA."

The latest development follows the news in February, when the Employment and Social Development Canada fired 49 employees who received CERB while employed there. At the time, the CRA spokesperson said that the "situation involving such a limited number of our employees in no way undermines the honesty and integrity" of those "who work every day in an exemplary manner to serve Canadians."