The Canada Revenue Agency has laid off 120 employees who claimed the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to multiple sources, these are mostly employees who have been laid off or who have lost their security clearances, resulting in the loss of their federal employment.
The CERB, which offered benefits of $500 a week, was only meant to help people who lost their jobs in 2020.
Any agency employee who improperly applied for the CERB must repay the amounts if they have not already done so, spokeswoman Nina Ioussoupova announced in a press release published on Friday.
The agency takes all forms of wrongdoing very seriously and is committed to protecting the integrity of Canada’s tax and benefit systems and demonstrating to Canadians that it is a fair and trustworthy organization. If misconduct is identified, we will ensure that appropriate action is taken to address it.
The CRA fears for its reputation
In a memo dated May 18, 2023, the deputy commissioner responsible for security warned his colleagues that this file could damage the ARC’s image. In addition to issuing the CERB checks, the agency was now responsible for recovering overpayments from certain taxpayers across the country.
“Releasing the number of CRA employees who have received the CERB without necessarily being eligible to receive it poses a significant risk to the credibility and reputation of the CRA and its employees,” Harry Gill said in the memo, issued as part of the Access to Information Act was obtained.
Overall, the CRA has identified approximately 600 employees who received the CERB during the pandemic, although some of them could legitimately have received the amounts. Investigations into these cases are ongoing.