Billions in pandemic relief benefits that were paid out to ineligible Canadians will not be investigated, says Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Commissioner Bob Hamilton.
Commissioner Hamilton is said to have disagreed with the report published by Auditor-General Karen Hogan in December that found approximately $30 billion worth of overpayments were sent to ineligible recipients and businesses.
The determination was part of a House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on COVID-19 Benefits that was scrutinizing the approximately $15.5 billion given to businesses through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).
“In my view, based on what we’ve seen so far, it wouldn’t be worth the effort,” Hamilton told MPs at the committee, as reported by the Globe and Mail.
Auditor General Hogan stood by her findings and urged the CRA to review the monstrous amount of money that may have been squandered away at taxpayers expense.
“I encourage the government to be a lot more transparent with what they’re doing, and I think they need to do more work,” Hogan said.
Conservative MP Kelly McCauley also pushed back on the decision to disregard billions of dollars in overpayment and ineligibility.
“This is a huge amount of potential money. Who in the CRA is making the decision that we’re willing to risk writing off 15, 20, 25 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money?” she asked.
As reported by Blacklocks, the total cost of the CEWS program was $100.6 billion. Audits found the Canada Revenue Agency failed to make cursory checks on companies that applied for grants, the article reads.
Of this, Conservative MP Adam Chambers reminded the committee that money went to ineligible recipients including "$6 billion to $7 billion [that] went to publicly traded companies that continued to pay dividends to shareholders."
While Commissioner Hamilton objects to Hogan's report, he was unable to ascertain the total amounts squandered at the hearing.