Benefits

Core responsibility

To ensure that Canadians obtain the support and information they need to know what benefits they may be eligible to receive, that they receive their benefit payments in a timely manner, and have avenues of redress when they disagree with a decision on their benefit eligibility.
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The Agency's self-examination as world-class applies to benefits administration as well as to tax administration. Because the Tax Administration Diagnostic Assessment Tool is tax-specific, we are developing and applying a Benefits Administration Complementary Assessment Tool. The assessment results will be available in 2018-2019.

Outreach

The Government of Canada  is committed to reaching out to Canadians who could be getting benefits if they filed a tax return. The CRA supports this commitment, for example, through the Non‑Filer Benefit Letter initiative. In 2017‑18, the CRA sent letters to 300,000 lower-income Canadians who had not filed a return, informing them they might be eligible for benefits and credits which they are not receiving and encouraging them to file their returns. A total of 37,934 returns were filed, which led to $6.98 million and $32.4 million in credits and benefits being paid out.

In 2017‑18 the CRA ran digital ads to raise awareness of the Canada caregiver credit, the Canada child benefit, and the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. The campaigns had over 122 million views and generated almost 400,000 clicks to the webpages. We also created information products tailored to vulnerable population segments to raise awareness of the benefits and credits available through tax filing. Recognizing that language may be a barrier for some Canadians, we also translated many of these products into different languages, including Indigenous languages.

Posters promoting benefits and credits were translated into Arabic and Inuktitut. Factsheets on benefit and credit programs are being translated into Arabic, Punjabi, Tagalog, Simplified Chinese, and seven Indigenous languages (Swampy Cree, Plains Cree, Northern Eastern Cree, Montagnais, Inuktitut, Dene,and Ojibway).

Image description

This is an image of a pamphlet about benefits and credits distributed in Indigenous communities in both English and Inuktitut.

On the left of the image is the English version of the pamphlet. At the top of the pamphlet there is an image of Indigenous children playing hand drums. Over the image is the title of the pamphlet: Benefits and Credits available to you. Below are two columns with text.

In the left column is the following text: “Don’t miss out! You only need to apply once to find out if you are eligible for benefit and credit payments. Then you need to do your taxes every year to continue getting payments, even if your income is tax exempt or you had no income at all. We use the information from your tax return to calculate your federal benefit and credit payments, and any related provincial and territorial payments.”

Below is a table with the title “You could get up to:”The first row in the table indicates “$6,400 - annually per child in Canada child benefit payments”. The second row indicates “$560 - annually in GST/HST credit payments + $147 annually per child.” The third row indicates: “$1,894 - for the working income tax benefit, you could also apply for advance payments”. The fourth indicates “$2,730 - annually in child disability benefit payments if your child is eligible for the disability tax credit”.

In the turquoise column on the right of the English page of the pamphlet the following text is seen: “How do you apply? Find all the information you need on how to apply for benefits and credits at canada.ca/child-family-benefits or call 1-800-387-1193. We can help! If you have a modest income and a simple tax situation, volunteers from the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program can do your taxes for you, for free. Find a tax preparation clinic near you at canada.ca/taxes-volunteer.”

On the right of the English pamphlet is the same pamphlet with information written in Inuktitut.

The CRA continued to help people through increased support to the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (for more information on this program see page 24 ). Volunteers for the program also ensured people got the credits and benefits to which they were entitled by helping them file timely and appropriate returns.

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The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program offers free clinics to help prepare income and benefit returns for eligible individuals. Outreach efforts such as these are making a real and direct difference to our most vulnerable populations, particularly youth, seniors, newcomers, and indigenous communities.

The CRA expanded collaboration with other government organizations to increase awareness and help vulnerable people. We worked with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and various resettlement organizations to address issues newcomers face when they apply for benefits. We worked closely with Service Canada to improve our services to Canadians. For example, we began sending reminders to senior citizens about the importance of filing early for the Guaranteed Income Supplement to avoid potential disruptions in payments. We also collaborated with Service Canada to reach out to people on reserves and in the North to share information about credits and benefits.

Image of the arms of two people shaking hands

Factsheets about the benefit and credit programs available to residents of Canada were included in the package prepared by Service Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and given to people arriving at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

We also worked with Statistics Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada to improve our understanding of tax-filing by Indigenous peoples to better target our outreach activities. We funded two public opinion research studies, one with Indigenous peoples living on reserve and in the North, and one with vulnerable populations, including urban Indigenous peoples, to improve our understanding of barriers to tax-filing and accessing benefits and credits. In partnership with Service Canada, we contacted Indigenous communities and conducted outreach visits in communities that accepted. We also collaborated with the Department of Indigenous Services Canada to increase awareness and uptake of the Canada child benefit.

In Reaching and Supporting Vulnerable Canadians: Strategy for the Outreach and Community Volunteer Income Tax Programs, 2018-19 to 2020-21, drafted this fiscal year, the CRA included an action plan to guide and expand Agency outreach and the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program over the next three years. The proposal, which will double the size of the program, was approved by Finance Canada and included in Budget 2018.

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Visits to Indigenous communities include one to the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation, in Manitoba. In July 2017, employment and training staff in the community welcomed a visit. A number of people there had not received their July GST/HST credit payments. Many community members file with a tax service in a nearby town and it appeared that the returns were being filed late, which meant they missed the July GST/HST credit calculation and benefit payments were delayed. This also affected July Canada child benefit payments for some parents.

As a result of our visit and assistance, these issues were addressed, and the community members' tax returns were filed with help from the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.

In 2017-18, the CRA completed a project to simplify all benefit notices, making them easier to understand, as part of the Agency's overall simplification of correspondence and other communications for Canadians.

Image of Minister Lebouthillier with 10 people

THE MINISTER OF NATIONAL REVENUE DIANE LEBOUTHILLIER, WITH VOLUNTEERS IN YELLOWKNIFE
 

In September 2017, the CRA also visited the Inuit communities of Rigolet and Nain, governed by the Nunatsiavut Government, on the northern coast of Labrador.

The CRA outreach officers were again given a warm welcome; they were met at the airport by the mayor and community members and invited to explore the community. The officers presented two sessions to discuss benefits and credits that can be accessed by filing a tax return, as well as the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. At both sessions, some people were not aware of the program or of the disability tax credit, and the working income tax benefit. Officers heard of someone who had not received the Canada child benefit since June because he had not filed his tax return. The officers were able to provide information about the volunteer program to help.

The CRA is committed to improving its administrative practices and enhancing its delivery of credits and benefits for persons with disabilities following concerns raised by Canadians in 2017-18 about the fairness, eligibility requirements, and accessibility of the disability tax credit. The Minister of National Revenue re-instated the Disability Advisory Committee to collaborate with stakeholders, who advise the CRA on how tax measures can better support the needs and expectations of persons living with disabilities, and provide feedback on how the CRA can enhance the quality of its services for persons with disabilities.

Digital services

The CRA is committed to providing the best possible service to benefit recipients, including designing and advancing digital services. For instance, the MyBenefits CRA mobile app provides benefit and credit information on clients' mobile devices. It shows when benefits or credits will be paid, the amount of the payments, and the status of their Canada child benefit application. In May 2017, we added features to this app so that users can update personal details, see how provincial or territorial benefits break down, and register for online mail and account alerts.

This fiscal year, we also expanded the Automated Benefits Application service so that more Canadians can apply for child benefits or register for the GST/HST credit online. All provinces already use the service, and, as of March 2018, residents of the Northwest Territories can use the Automated Benefits Application service to register a newborn and apply for the Canada child benefit and other child benefits. We plan to offer the service in the Yukon and Nunavut in the near future.

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Low-income households are more likely to own cellphones than home computers. It is important for the CRA to make digital services available on any device for benefit recipients, to help them manage their accounts safely online or through web-based mobile apps.

The CRA continues developing and testing the final release of the nine-year Benefit System Renewal Project to improve the administration of benefit and credit payments. The result will be a strengthened system with the capacity to manage future growth in benefit programs and services for taxpayers.

Telephone services

After extensive research and consultation, the CRA sent letters to Canadians offering them a new simple service called File my Return. As with the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program mentioned above, filing a return is the way to make sure people who are entitled to credits and benefits receive them. The CRA's call centres received in excess of nine million benefit enquiries calls. For more information on telephone services at the CRA, see page 18.

The table below shows how calls about benefits were treated in 2017‑18.

How calls about benefits were treated in 2017-18
  Number of calls answered by an agent
Number of calls for which the caller opted to self-serve using the automated service Number of calls that were not served; these include calls for which the caller:
Did not opt to self-serve using the automated service Received a busy signal
Benefits
2,215,789 1,820,703 4,134,219 1,027,197

Benefits key results

In 2017-2018:

  • The CRA sent letters to 300,000 Canadians through the Non-Filer Benefit Letter initiative, introduced File my Return, and expanded the Automated Benefits Application service
  • We increased the number of returns completed through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program by 18,257 to 786,606
  • We issued 100% of Canada child benefit payments on time
  • We issued 110 million benefit payments to almost 15.3 million benefit recipients, a value of $33.8 billion, representing an increase of $2 billion over 2016‑17
  • The CRA administered 171 federal, provincial, and territorial benefit and credit programs and services
  • The MyBenefits CRA app was logged into 108,229 times
  • We made 82.9% of benefit and credit payments by direct deposit
  • We answered over 4 million calls on our benefit enquiries line through agent and automated services 

Benefits performance indicators

Departmental result: Canadians receive their rightful benefits in a timely manner

Benefits performance indicators
Result indicator Target 2017-18 result 2016-17 result 2015-16 result
Percentage of Canada child benefit recipients who provide complete and accurate information in order to receive the proper entitlement 95% 92.6%Footnote 1 N/A N/A
Percentage of benefit payments issued to benefit recipients on timeFootnote 2 99%
100% 99.99% 99.99%
Percentage of respondents satisfied with the benefit application processing time   75% N/AFootnote 3 N/AFootnote 4 N/AFootnote 5
Percentage of taxpayers (benefit recipients) who filed as a result of targeted CRA intervention 25% 8.1%Footnote 6 New indicator in 2017-18 New indicator in 2017-18

Benefits spending and human resources

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
2017-18
Main Estimates
2017-18
Planned spending
2017-18
Total authorities available for useFootnote 7
2017-18
Actual spendingFootnote 8 (authorities used)
2017-18
Difference (Actual spending minus Planned spending)
487,819,400 487,819,400 488,482,549 479,298,608  (8,520,792)
Human resources (full-time equivalents)Footnote 9
2017-18
Planned full-time equivalents
2017-18
Actual full-time equivalents
2017-18
Difference (Actual full-time equivalents minus
Planned full-time equivalents)
1,592
1,253  (339)
Supporting information on planned expenditures, human resources, and results related to the CRA's Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBasexix.
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