Report suggests irregularities earlier attributed to retroactive payments may have actually been made in error
The federal government has given out duplicate payments of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to more than 220,000 Canadians, to the tune of more than $442 million.
That’s according to a paper tabled last week, which addressed a question submitted by Conservative MP Kelly McCauley on April 16, reported CTV News.
Within the first two days of the CERB’s initial rollout, more than 1.7 million Canadians applied for the benefit; since then, that number has since swelled past eight million unique applicants. When the payouts began to pour in, conscientious Canadians reported irregularities, with some saying they’d received $4,000 instead of the $2,000 per month that they’d been advised were their entitlement.
At the time, the federal government explained that some of those were retroactive payments. However, the new documents indicate that among those are hundreds of thousands of payments that were erroneously duplicated.
"There was a total of 221,320 individuals who received payments from both ESDC [Employee and Social Development Canada] and CRA,” the response said. Altogether, those cases accounted for approximately $442,640 in double payments.
According to Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, who signed off on the paper response, the CRA and Service Canada are working together to make certain that the payments to those individuals don’t surpass the “maximum allowable” $12,000 over a 12-week period.
A spokesperson for the office of the Minister of National Revenue, Jeremy Bellefeuille, told CTV News that as of Friday, “up to 500,000 Canadians” who were not qualified for CERB benefits have reimbursed the CRA for overpayments. The reasons behind such voluntary repayments vary, from those who realized they received a double payment, to others who were either ineligible to begin with or got back to work earlier than expected.
A CERB fraud tip line has also contributed to a reported 11,300 leads on cases where claimants may have been unqualified to receive funds. Bellefeuille said the CRA investigates each tip it gets, with the anticipation that not all will be confirmed incidents of fraud.