CRA gets cash infusion in federal budget to combat cyber threats
OTTAWA -- Hundreds of millions of dollars will flow to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to fight cyber breaches and shield personal information online, should the Liberal budget document pass through Parliament with opposition support.
Under the headline of “Protecting Taxpayer Information,” the government details how more than $330 million – “with $1.6 million in remaining amortization, and $51.2 million ongoing” – will be used over the next five years to invest in “new technologies and tools” to push back against sophisticated threats and train CRA staff to be able to better identify warnings of cyber data breaches.
The agency has been key to the delivery of COVID-19 pandemic supports, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.
According to the federal budget document tabled on Monday, “since February 2020, registration for the CRA’s secure digital services has increased by 36 per cent and logins have increased by 170 per cent.”
In mid-March the agency announced it was locking 800,000 users’ accounts in a precautionary move out of fear personal information may have been obtained by bad actors through means such as phishing schemes or third-party data breaches.
The Conservatives have called on the government to extend the deadline to file taxes, as they did last year, due to the stress of the third wave of the pandemic and the CRA security issue.
Among other items, the budget also assigns: nearly $42 million over three years starting in 2021-22 to modernize the CRA, specifically to reduce processing times for T1 adjustments so Canadians can more easily access benefits; $230 million over the next five years starting in 2021-22 to improve its ability to collect outstanding taxes; and $304.1 million over five years starting in 2021-22 to prevent against tax evasion and avoidance through enhanced audits, improved risk assessments, and strengthened capacity to identify these actions.