The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) conducted an investigation into the validity of a radio show caller who claimed to be an agency employee and fraudulently received COVID benefits. On Feb. 9, the Alex Pierson Show was contacted live on the air by a male caller who identified as “Jonathan” and said he was a collection agent able to work from home due to COVID. He claimed that when mandatory vaccines were implemented at the CRA, a group of “hundreds” of disgruntled employees created a Facebook group and claimed the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) “just to kick back at Trudeau.” Jonathan said employees knew the system and applied for pandemic relief benefits without a social insurance number, sometimes multiple times.
In a statement to The Epoch Times, CRA spokesperson Nina Ioussoupova said active employees were not eligible for CERB, and any employee who “fraudulently claimed the CERB would have been in violation of the CRA’s Code of Integrity and Professional Conduct and the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.” CRA said employees caught fraudulently claiming government benefits would have to repay the amounts, and could be subject to disciplinary measures including termination of employment or revocation of security status, which would significantly impede the individual’s ability to ever work for a government department again.
Ioussoupova said the agency was aware of the radio call-in show, and investigated the situation. She noted a few points which called into question the validity of the call, such as the caller claiming to have applied for the CERB after the CRA began verifying the COVID-19 vaccine status of its employees, when the last day to apply for the CERB was December 2, 2020. She also noted that at no time was it possible to apply for any individual pandemic benefits without providing a SIN, and multiple applications for CERB “would not be possible.”
Regardless of the legitimacy of the allegation, CRA said all allegations of employee misconduct are taken seriously and addressed. The federal government said it had fired 49 public servants for allegedly claiming CERB while being employed. Canada’s auditor general Karen Hogan said at least $27.4 million in questionable COVID benefit payments needed to be investigated. CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton provided testimony before the House of Commons public accounts committee on how many instances of fraud were found, but did not provide specific numbers.
Peter Wilson contributed to this report.