A new report has revealed that anybody incorrectly claiming CERB payments will eventually have to pay it back, but it won't be for a while. Although the federal government has committed to investigating all potentially fraudulent applications, this will not happen until at least 2021. This means anybody who has deliberately, or accidentally, claimed the wrong benefits will not know until next year.
Back in March, the federal government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, also known as CERB.
The $2,000 per month payment was designed to support Canadian workers who have been laid off due to the pandemic, as well as those who are working heavily reduced hours.
When the new benefit was launched, the federal government admitted that anybody could actually access the cash, whether they are entitled to it or not.
Two weeks after the CERB was launched, more than 7.5 million Canadians applied for the cash. To ensure all of these people were paid efficiently, officials explained that it was not possible to individually process each application.
However, they noted that fraudulent applications would eventually be discovered, and those ineligible would have to pay the cash back.
According to a new report from CBC News, senior officials from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) have now admitted that the majority of potentially fraudulent CERB claims will not be investigated until next year.
While there will be no punishment for anybody who is caught to have been claiming the cash incorrectly, they will be required to pay the full amount back.
The #CERB is here for Canadians who stopped working due to #COVID19 and earned no more than $1000 within the 4-week… https://t.co/bJ1PXG0RCR— Employment and Social Development Canada (@Employment and Social Development Canada)1587748452.0
Speaking during his daily press conference on Tuesday, the prime minister acknowledged that there would need to be a assessment of all applications.
"We knew that there would be a need to clean-up after the fact, to go after fraudulent cases, and we will do that," Trudeau explained.
However, government officials have repeatedly stated that they believe the vast majority of Canadians are honest, and are unlikely to be taking advantage of the system.
When it comes to those who have deliberately or accidentally claimed the monthly $2,000, there will be no punishment, the CRA told CBC News.
Instead, they will simply be required to pay back all of the cash that was incorrectly claimed.
This week, the government website launched a new page on its online portal, which allows people to start paying back any benefits they want to return. On the first day, almost 15,000 repayments were made on the site.
Full time, part-time, self-employed, seasonal & contract workers may be eligible for #CERB. If you have stopped wor… https://t.co/ioUxv1Y0bz— Employment and Social Development Canada (@Employment and Social Development Canada)1588170341.0
This comes just days after the government was accused of ignoring CERB cheaters, as staff were allegedly encouraged to process almost all applications, even if they suspected the claims were fraudulent.