Although CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) was supposed to be a lifeline for many Canadians who lost their income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some federal employees abused the system and claimed the benefit when they were not eligible.
To date, the CRA has fired 185 employees so far and is investigating another 600 cases.
The benefit provided $2,000 per month to Canadians who were unable to work or had reduced hours because of the public health measures.
According to the agency, some of its employees may have qualified for the benefit, depending on their contract type and situation.
The CRA started its internal review in July and quickly terminated 20 employees who had received CERB improperly.
The agency says that it is committed to maintaining the highest standard of conduct and integrity, as it is responsible for administering the Income Tax Act and many COVID-19 benefits.
National Revenue Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau praised the CRA for its “zero tolerance” approach to dealing with employees who took advantage of CERB during the last spate of firings in September.
She said that the agency was sending a clear message that such behaviour was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.
Several high profile fraudulent pandemic benefits cases have come to light in recent months.
In October, a Toronto Uber driver had his bank account frozen after being suspected of improperly obtaining over $4.5 million in Covid-19 relief meant for businesses.
The case, highlighted in an Ontario court, exposed the exorbitant misuse of pandemic fiscal programs.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Michael Penny ruled that Rabih George Barake accessed the funds under false pretenses, ordering him to repay the bank with interest and costs, and imposing punitive damages totaling $1.5 million.