CRA admits to $10 billion in pandemic relief sent to ineligible applicants

'As it relates to individual programs the Agency has completed reviews and thus far had found $7.96 billion in payments had been ineligible as of December 31, 2023,' the CRA wrote in a report to the Senate national finance committee.

CRA admits to $10 billion in pandemic relief sent to ineligible applicants
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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) now admits that it knows of $10 billion in pandemic relief cheques paid to ineligible applicants.

Only a fraction has been recovered, with billions in losses to be expected.

“As it relates to individual programs the Agency has completed reviews and thus far had found $7.96 billion in payments had been ineligible as of December 31, 2023,” the CRA wrote in a report to the Senate national finance committee.

“In addition through initiatives like double dipping, recipient driven adjustments and adjustments between programs where a recipient was deemed ineligible for one program but eligible for another, an additional $1.73 billion has been identified as owing,” it read, reports Blacklock's. The figures totalled $9.69 billion.

“Of these amounts $1.93 billion has been recovered,” wrote the Agency. Ongoing audits “will undoubtedly result in ineligible amounts being added to the outstanding debt related to COVID-19 benefits.”

The CRA reported that it has completed full audits on 544,000 Canadians who claimed benefits such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. "Our goal is to audit 857,000 people," it stated.

The figure does not include the $510 million paid to ineligible businesses.

On March 25, 2020, in the early days of the pandemic, Parliament passed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act, which provided $2,000 per month to unemployed tax filers at risk of eviction or foreclosure. The program was initially budgeted at $24 billion, but final costs reached $81.6 billion. MPs at the time voiced concerns about widespread fraudulent claims.

“There is no doubt that when creating a program as quickly as we did, there is going to be some abuse of that program,” Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux said. “I suspect when I hear from my Conservative friends they will highlight some of those problems which we are very much aware of.”

Over 190,000 people quit their jobs to take a "CERB vacation" when the Liberals saw it fit to send out monthly $2,000 payments to support those affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The feds have said that recovering funds from people who cheated the CERB program would prove an "undue burden."

According to Blacklock's Reporter, a Department of Employment memo from last year stated, "Due to the subjective nature of the criteria, the difficulty of proving eligibility after the fact and undue burden that investigation would create, Service Canada will apply a risk managed approach to these cases." The memo did not detail how much the federal government intends to recover of the funds that were fraudulently obtained.

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