Federal financial aid – which was intended to get households and businesses back on their feet amid the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic – is being taken advantage of by a significant number of cheaters, the Canada Revenue Agency has reported.
CRA told CBC that it is looking into more than 3,300 tips of benefit abuse as of June 21. This swelled from the 600 leads on May 31, and the 1,300 tips just over a week after.
CBC reported that around 361,000 repayments for CERB have already been made by Canadians who weren’t eligible for the program – up from the 190,000 repayments as of June 3.
CRA provided assurances that it conducts thorough pre-payment verifications and post-payment reviews on every applicant. The agency said that all repayments so far have been voluntary.
The agency did not release exact numbers, however. It also said that it will not provide monetary rewards for legitimate leads on suspected cheating.
“The Canada Revenue Agency does track the number of fraudulent CERB claims, but to protect the integrity of our processes, these specific statistics are not available at this time,” CRA said.
Conservative MP Dan Albas said that the confusion stems from the unclear eligibility rules.
“For months, Justin Trudeau has failed to take the issue of CERB fraud seriously. Instead of listening and fixing the gaps in existing programs, the Trudeau Liberals are giving hundreds of millions of dollars to fraudsters,” Albas said. “This is wrong. Conservatives will continue to make sure taxpayers are respected while ensuring support gets to Canadians who need it.”