The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has fired 120 employees following an internal review of those who “inappropriately claimed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CRA first reported in June it had dismissed 20 employees for “inappropriately” receiving the funds, and that it was investigating 600 additional cases. In an update Friday, the agency said that as a result of a case-by-case review, “120 individuals are not longer with the CRA.”
The investigations and disciplinary processes are ongoing, according to a statement from CRA.
“The CRA takes any form of wrongdoing very seriously, and is strongly committed to protecting the integrity of Canada’s tax and benefit systems and demonstrating to Canadians that the CRA is a trusted and fair organization,” the statement reads. “When misconduct is identified, we ensure that the appropriate actions are taken to address it.”
Those who claimed the payments despite being ineligible are being required to pay them back.
While the reviews and any disciplinary actions are being carried out internally, CRA says some cases may be referred to law enforcement “if criminality is suspected.”
Under the CERB program, Canadians could receive up to $2,000 a month in financial support if the government’s pandemic restrictions affected their employment.
A spokesperson for CRA told CTVNews.ca in June the 600 suspicious cases were a “very limited number” when considering the agency employs 60,000 people across the country.
The spokesperson added some CRA employees may have been eligible for the payments when they were available in the early days of the pandemic, because many had temporary or student contracts.
“As we also previously stated, being a current employee of the CRA does not necessarily mean an individual was ineligible for the CERB,” reads Friday’s statement. “In this regard, roughly 30 employees that are part of this review have been found to be eligible so far.”
“Finally, we would like to emphasize again that the actions of some in no way undermine the honesty and integrity of the more than 60,000 CRA employees who work every day in an exemplary manner to serve Canadians,” it also states.
Canada’s auditor general reported last December that the federal government had delivered about $4.6 billion in COVID-19 aid overpayments to people who were ineligible.
With files from CTVNews.ca writer Michael Lee
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