Benefit programs

Benefit programs help many Canadians who depend on benefit payments for a large part of their household income. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) administers a range of ongoing benefits and one-time payment programs on behalf of the provinces and territories and the federal government, such as the Canada child benefit and the GST/HST credit. The CRA makes sure the right benefit payment is made to the right individual at the right time and gives recipients accessible information and timely responses to their enquiries.

Performance results 

Benefit recipients are provided timely and accurate eligibility determinations and payments, and have access to timely and accurate information Percentage of service standard targets that are met or mostly met relating to benefits administration and enquiries 100%  100% Footnote 1 100% Footnote 1 100% Footnote 1
    Canada child benefit enquiries – telephone service level (target: within 2 minutes of entering the agent queue, 75% of the time) 76% 76% 76.1%
    GST/HST credit enquiries telephone service level (target: within 2 minutes of entering the agent queue, 75% of the time) 75% 76.1% 76.1%
    Responding to benefit and credit enquiries – accuracy (target 98%) 98% 96.7% 94.4%
    Responding to benefit and credit enquiries – timeliness (target: within 80 calendar days, 98% of the time) 98.7% 97.8% 99.3%
    Processing benefit applications – accuracy (target 98%) 99.1% 99.4% 98%
    Processing benefit applications – timeliness (target: within 80 calendar days, 98% of the time) 99.1% 99.1% 98.5%
    Processing a request to authorize or cancel a representative – electronic (target: within 20 business days, 90% of the time) 97.4% 99.7% 99.8%
    Processing a request to authorize or cancel a representative – paper (target: within five business days, 90% of the time) 95.2% 96.2% 98.4%
  Percentage of enquiries (correspondence, written enquiries, or telephone referrals from call centres) received from benefit recipients that are responded to accurately 98% 98% 96.7% 94.4% Footnote 2

The CRA provides individuals with the benefit payments they are entitled to. The CRA administers 157 benefits, credits, and services on behalf of partners such as the provinces, territories, and other federal government departments. Our expertise and systems lower the costs of administration and reduce the need for separate calculation and delivery systems at the federal, provincial, and territorial levels. We provide flexible and efficient administration based on our ability to quickly implement changes to meet our partners' needs, which in turn improves the service delivered to benefit recipients.

Benefit programs administration

In 2016-2017, the CRA enhanced its communications strategy to increase awareness of available benefits and credits and to inform recipients of their rights and obligations. Various initiatives and collaborative communication products were used. For example, in October 2016, the CRA sent 260,000 letters to taxpayers who had not filed for the 2014 tax year, prompting them to file a tax return to get benefits they may have been entitled to. As of mid-February 2017, 21,532 potential benefit recipients had filed a total of 33,937 returns, with some filing returns for both 2014 and 2015. These taxpayers received over $12.4 million in tax refunds for 2014 and 2015 combined. In addition, following the assessment of returns for those two years, the CRA issued over $27.2 million in benefit and credit payments, helping 6,542 children.

Canada child benefit and old age security pension

In July 2016, the CRA delivered the first Canada child benefit payments, replacing the Canada child tax benefit, the national child benefit supplement, and the universal child care benefit.

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In October 2016, we successfully implemented a new data exchange with Service Canada in support of the Automatic Enrolment initiative for the old age security (OAS) pension. This was a major milestone in the Agency's contribution to Employment and Social Development Canada's OAS Service Improvement Strategy, whereby the CRA now provides Service Canada with the tax filing history of identified seniors so they can determine whether they can be automatically enrolled for the OAS pension.


In 2016-2017:

Digital services

To respond to the evolving service expectations of Canadians, the CRA periodically implements measures to ensure the security of our digital services, thereby protecting the personal information of benefit recipients. Canadians can apply for and receive benefits with the assurance that their personal information will remain confidential.

Online mail

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In July 2016, the CRA began delivering online benefit and credit notices to individuals who requested this service. All system-generated benefit notices are now available for viewing in My Account, including notices that were previously printed and mailed. Approximately 18% of all notices for our GST/HST credit and related programs and about 22% of all notices for our Canada child benefit and related programs were delivered online in 2016-2017. This resulted in an estimated cost savings of $1,400,000 for our GST/HST credit and related programs and $800,000 for Canada child benefit and related programs.

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In addition, in February 2017, we began delivering online statements for benefit payments. Much like notices, when a statement becomes available, individuals are prompted to view it through My Account. In 2016-2017, some 779,000 statements were delivered online, resulting in an estimated cost savings to the Agency of $600,000.

MyBenefits CRA

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In May 2016, the CRA launched MyBenefits CRA, a web-based mobile app designed specifically for benefit recipients. MyBenefits CRA gives benefit recipients easy access to their benefit information. It shows benefit and credit payment details—such as when benefits or credits will be paid and the amounts—as well as a breakdown between federal and provincial/territorial to their last benefit payment. It also allows users to view and update their marital status and view information the CRA has about children in their care. From May 2016 to the end of March 2017, taxpayers visited the app's home page approximately 300,000 times.

A large number of calls to our benefits enquiries line are related to payment dates and benefit amounts for recipients. The MyBenefits CRA app provides benefit recipients with a means to self-serve, allowing call centre agents to spend time answering more complex calls about benefit eligibility and payments.


In 2016-2017:

Benefit enquiries

Many Canadians rely on benefit payments for a significant part of their household income. With that in mind, the CRA works to provide accurate and timely benefit information and services.

More and more users are opting for the convenience of our online tools, such as the MyBenefits CRA app. We are committed, however, to maintaining our telephone enquiries service and continually improving the quality and ease of use of our web content.

For Canadians who prefer to call the CRA for answers to their benefit questions, we continue to improve our telephone services to ensure that benefit recipients are able to discuss their needs with one of our telephone enquiry agents. During 2016-2017, the CRA met its caller accessibility and service level targets for benefit enquiries. Callers who were successful in accessing the service were given the option to speak with an agent. Of those who chose to do so, 76% were connected with an agent within two minutes of entering the agent queue, meeting our 75% target. Other improved service measures, such as the enhanced Interactive Voice Response system, let callers use self-service options such as obtaining the amount of their benefit payment.

  Number of calls answered by an agent Number of calls abandoned in the agent queue Number of calls answered through self-service Footnote 3 Number of calls that received a busy signal
Benefits 3,058,145 Footnote 4 64,400 4,279,280 5,527,404


In 2016-2017:

434,832,503 482,883,861 434,832,503 475,216,775 (40,384,272)
1,545 1,299 246
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