The Canada Revenue Agency gave millions in taxpayer funding in the form of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to hundreds of companies that owed the government taxes and eventually went bankrupt. 

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, an Inquiry of Ministry requested by Conservative MP Anna Roberts shows that 750 firms that became insolvent received $145.9 million in emergency funds. 

“(Of those companies) 352 owed back taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency when they were sent the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy payments,” government staffers wrote. 

“What are the names of the companies that owed back taxes?” the inquiry asked. 

“As the protection of taxpayer information is of utmost importance the confidentiality provisions of the Acts administered by the Revenue Agency prevent the disclosure of taxpayer information,” replied Revenue Minister Dianne Lebouthilier. 

The subsidy was introduced by the Liberal government in 2020. At first, CEWS paid a 10% subsidy to small businesses before it grew to a 75% grant for public companies. 

Concerns have also been raised about the CRA’s own fiscal responsibility during the course of the pandemic. 

During the pandemic, CRA employees received a 10% raise. At the time Canadians suffered from a 10.9% unemployment rate which was preceded by a record unemployment rate of 13.7%. Small businesses were also being shuttered by lockdowns.

CRA employees received other perks as well, including increased maternity leave qualifications up to 78 weeks, more overtime meal allowances and a single payment of $400. 

According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, all federal employees received a total of $1.3 billion in payouts during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Treasury Board was unable to provide actual personnel expenditures,” wrote the PBO.

“Leave was likely under-reported by many organizations. Indeed, in each subsequent data update provided by the Treasury Board there was an increase in the number of hours previously reported.”