June 28, 2021
-The Western Standard
Officials in the taxman’s office feared their own staff would steal pandemic relief money, says Blacklock’s Reporter.
A Canada Revenue Agency internal memo identified a “moderate” likelihood of misappropriation under one of the costliest pandemic relief programs, the $83.6 billion Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
“There is a risk the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy payments are misappropriated and not used to serve their intended purpose,” said a CRA memo.
Key risks were that “many organizations’ cash flow and business have suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it said.
“Recipients may have debts more pressing than employee wages.”
Parliament on March 25, 2020 passed Bill C-13 that introduced a limited 10% wage subsidy as a stopgap measure for small businesses. Cabinet on April 11 rewrote the Act to expand subsidies to 75% at a maximum $10,164 per employee of any corporation able to prove its revenues had declined 30% year over year.
“Small and large businesses create jobs, drive our economy and make our communities stronger,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at the time.
“Our government will continue to do whatever it takes to support them.”
Trudeau said there was no reason to disqualify corporations with legitimate applications.
“We have always been grounded in help for workers. We didn’t want to judge,” he said.
But, the CRA memo said the risk of misuse of funds was significant enough it could inflict “damage to the CRA’s reputation,” and warned its own employees should be watched.
“CRA employees may collude with external actors to facilitate or mask the misappropriation of payments,” it said.