(Ottawa) The office of Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier welcomes the decision of a federal watchdog to scrutinize how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) collects overpayments of COVID-19 benefits. 19.

The Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman announced on Thursday that it is monitoring complaints from people who say they receive collection letters from the CRA when they have reimbursed the government for pandemic-related benefits they were not entitled to. eligible.

The CRA announced in April that it was resuming efforts to recover the money through a process it calls “compensation,” which means it automatically uses money from tax refunds and certain benefits to settle a person’s debt to the government.

The agency says that as of April 13, more than 1.1 million notices have been sent to people with an amount owing due to overpayments of benefits related to COVID-19, but notes that some people may have received more than one notice.

The CRA says nearly $1.4 billion in COVID-19 benefits have been reimbursed, including about $237 million from around 775,000 people through the use of the offset.

The Auditor General’s office reported in December that the federal government paid out $4.9 billion in pandemic benefits to ineligible recipients, including wage subsidies.

The CRA began collecting tax refunds last October.

The ombudsman’s office said it continued to receive complaints and would launch a formal investigation into the case if necessary.

The ombudsman says it’s possible people discovered their overpayments from other sources, such as another government department, and then refunded the money without the knowledge of the CRA.

Ms. Lebouthillier’s office has indicated that she will work with the ombudsman if necessary.

“It is important to note that there are already systems and procedures in place between Service Canada and the CRA when an individual reimburses CERB payments,” Jérémy Collard, the press secretary, said in an email. of the minister.