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190,000 Canadians who received CERB payments have had to repay them, CRA says
TORONTO -- Approximately 190,000 Canadians have had to repay their Canada Emergency Response Benefit cheques to the government as of June 3, according to the latest information from the Canada Revenue Agency.
The federal government established the CERB program back in March to help Canadians who couldn’t work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers $2,000 per month for up to four months.
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The repayments are from people who were not eligible for the benefit. It could have been that they were unknowingly covered under another COVID-19 federal aid program; had been rehired during the time they were still receiving CERB; or had applied out of confusion during the early days of the program.
The CRA also said it received 600 tips of alleged misuse of the CERB benefit as of June 3, a day after the government introduced a snitch line for Canadians to report potentially fraudulent claims.
In speaking on CTV’s Power Play, Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough estimated that between 1 and 2 per cent of the 8.4 million Canadians who’ve applied for CERB did so fraudulently.
“That’s our best guess right now, partially because these numbers change literally every day, partially because we investigate things that don’t turn out to be fraudulent or don’t happen to be incorrect,’ she said.
Jeremy Bellefeuille, a spokesperson for the office of National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier, told CTV News that “every tip” of alleged misuse of the program is being investigated.
The Liberal government is pushing a new bill that could, among other things, impose fines and possible jail time to Canadians who fraudulently claimed or tried to claim CERB payments.
Bellefeuille added that the CRA expects CERB repayments and tips of potential fraudsters to increase.