Understanding how to serve Canadians better

There is never a dull moment in my work as a Senior Public Consultations and Stakeholder Engagement Advisor at the Public Affairs Branch (PAB) at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)! I help the Agency put people first by planning, designing, and implementing public consultations that help us interact with Canadians from various walks of life, as well as those who interact with the Agency on their behalf. It's my job to help internal partners think about the best time, place, and way to reach Canadians' in a meaningful way, and keep their voices at the centre of everything we do.

My team worked on closing the loop with Canadians on what we heard, in-person and online, during the Serving Canadians Better (SCB) consultations held last year. This experience was both demanding and rewarding at the same time, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

It was so empowering and humbling to sit across from Canadians from different backgrounds and have down-to-earth conversations about what the CRA can do to serve them better. It's not something we get to do everyday, and it's an important reminder that the work we do has purpose and affects real people.

You might be asking yourself, what is the most important part of organizing a consultation that includes Canadians from various walks of life? The answer is simple; planning, planning and more planning. It's not as easy as just showing up and talking to people – there's way more to it. At the heart of every good consultation, there is always a promise you make to the public; that you will listen to what they are telling you and consider their input when making important decisions that will effect them.

In our case, we spent a lot of time working closely with staff and management at the CRA’s Chief Service Officer Secretariat (CSO) to determine what kind of input would help set the Agency's transformation up for success, and that would allow us to provide better programs and services responsive to what Canadians want and need. Once we knew what we were trying to change for the better and what kind of input we were seeking from Canadians, everything else seemed to fall into place.

Overall, the results of our participant evaluations for the in-person Serving Canadians Better consultations were fantastic. It was a positive indicator that the Canadians we spoke to were happy with how we consulted them. This is important because the people who choose to participate in a consultation have a stake in the issue and deserve to feel heard, and their perspective can make a real difference for Canadians in general.

The bottom line is that, at the end every tax or benefit return, there is a real person who is depending on us to provide trusted, fair and helpful service. That is why it is important to consult early and often; good consultations produce actionable insights which translate to improved programs and services that meet the expectations of the Canadians we serve.

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