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Briefing for the Minister of National Revenue

Agency transformation

As part of its ongoing efforts to remain a world-class tax and benefits administration, the CRA has launched a number of transformation initiatives. The CRA is adopting a more service oriented, People First philosophy and becoming an even more digitalized organization. These transformation initiatives aim to modernize the CRA's activities and improve its ability to quickly seize emerging opportunities. In 2021, the CRA articulated long-term aspirations to guide its transformation efforts in the coming years.

Key facts and figures 2020-2021

The CRA has embarked on a transformation journey to strengthen our service offerings to meet client needs and expectations by putting people at the centre of everything it does. In 2020, the CRA adopted a vision to be trusted, fair, and helpful by putting people first.

Over the last year, the CRA created a long-term strategic planning initiative called "Agency 2030", which includes five aspirations to unify and guide its transformation efforts:

  • Tax and benefits just happen
  • Seamless client service
  • Connected and proactive
  • Data driven and digital
  • Diverse workforce and high performance culture

71%

of employees agree that "All CRA activities are supported by a culture of service excellence", versus 56% in 2019 (pre-pandemic), according to a June 2021 employee survey on CRA Culture.

All figures are approximate

Recent and planned improvements

Seamless client service experience
The CRA is working to provide a consistent, modern and personalized client experience, regardless of the method they choose to interact with the CRA.
Service feedback
A new CRA-wide service feedback system is being developed to help collect detailed service feedback and identify opportunities for service improvement.
Engaging Canadians on services
The CRA is re-designing the way it consults with clients with the goal of providing a more collaborative approach to understanding their experiences, and co-creating and testing solutions to address client needs.
Digital Transformation Program
This program was established in 2020 to lead the Agency's ongoing digital transformation activities. It is re-conceiving the potential of technology and the development of digital capabilities, and transforming current practices and processes. It is also fostering a digital mindset and learning program for CRA employees.
Empathy in service
As part of its service transformation, the CRA undertook a campaign to foster the ability and willingness of employees to put themselves in another's shoes and connect with their thoughts, feelings and emotions, without judgment, which is key to building trust.

COVID-19 — Impacts and considerations for the CRA

  • The CRA's recent transformation initiatives, supported by the People First philosophy, created the right conditions for a strong and empathetic service-oriented delivery of emergency response measures during the pandemic
  • The CRA put clients and stakeholders at the centre of its administration of pandemic programs:
    • It developed new tools for stakeholder engagement and solicited participants' views on their experience to improve communications and education efforts
    • It conducted 24 usability studies with 165 Canadians
    • It hosted or participated in 64 stakeholder interactive question-and-answer sessions with over 19,800 participants representing eligible small and medium businesses, employers and stakeholder organizations

Context

The CRA is always looking at how it can improve its support to Canadians and be a world-class tax and benefits administration. In addition to ongoing continuous improvements, such as the CRA's digital services offerings, some changes are bigger, more cross-cutting, cultural and longer-term, and thus could be characterised as transformational.

The CRA is dedicated to ongoing service transformation to ensure that our services meet the needs and expectations of Canadians. In order to achieve this, the CRA has adopted a People First philosophy that places Canadians at the centre of its decision making. This philosophy informs the CRA's design and delivery processes by favouring co-creating solutions with our clients, as well as leveraging their feedback to constantly improve. It also fosters a culture that values empathy.

The CRA's People First philosophy permeates the organization and influences how we support Canadians to comply with their tax obligation. Providing this support means prioritizing an education-first approach to help the vast majority of Canadians, who want to comply, understand their tax obligations and avoid common errors.

The CRA is also transforming digitally to continue to meet the expectations of Canadians and seize the opportunities related to digitalization. The CRA's Digital Transformation Program is playing a key role in the CRA's transformation efforts. It is taking a comprehensive approach to digital transformation, which includes equipping employees with the best tools and learning solutions necessary to embrace a digital mindset and allow for creative and bold ideas to be realized.

To unify transformation efforts over the long term, the CRA developed five aspirational statements (dubbed "Agency 2030"), noted above, that will guide planning and decision making at the CRA.

Considerations

The CRA has been implementing an approach to the design and delivery of its programs and services centered on clients' needs and experiences across service channels (i.e., the Internet, contact centres, and letter mail). It seeks to provide clients with access to easy-to-understand, high-quality and consistent information, and proactive and personalized support, regardless of the channel they prefer to use to communicate with the CRA.

Focusing on education and support for Canadians makes it easier for those who want to comply; but, who need help understanding and navigating the tax and benefits system. The CRA's education-first approach includes outreach activities, client focused educational products, and engagements with our key stakeholders.

As the CRA continues with its transformational efforts, a pivotal part of its success is having diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The CRA is committed to building an inclusive workplace, where all employees feel safe and valued. The CRA will work closely with employee groups to better understand challenges and barriers to inclusion, to inform actions going forward. It is also committed to creating a workplace that is flexible, productive and safe, supporting work-life balance and fostering greater collaboration among employees.

The shift to virtual work during the pandemic demonstrated an opportunity to increase organizational agility through digitalization and intelligent risk taking. There is also an opportunity to move to a more dispersed workforce, taking advantage of talent across the country, and providing a flexible and desirable workplace, where employees remain productive. The CRA is working to ensure that the progress it has made on new ways of working, since the COVID-19 pandemic, is not lost.

Long-term considerations

The CRA is evaluating new ways to improve its collection of, access to, and use of data in order to provide a better service to clients and continue to be an effective and efficient tax and benefit administration.

  • The CRA is working with other departments to develop a plan to implement a government-wide ePayroll solution—moving to a more real-time collection of employee payroll information. This solution presents an opportunity to improve the integration of employment income with government programming (e.g., the Canada Workers Benefit and Employment Insurance). It could also help identify and address compliance issues early, and leverage additional data to better target compliance interventions.
  • The CRA is also evaluating the adoption of e-invoicing in Canada, with a focus on business-to-business transactions. A shift from after-the-fact paper filings to more real-time reporting on transactions could improve compliance and reduce business reporting burden, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.

Next steps

The CRA will continue its transformation journey:

  • Researching, designing and testing the capabilities required to deliver more seamless, accessible, end-to-end experiences for clients in their interactions with CRA channels, programs and services
  • Undertaking an assessment of how well-positioned it is to achieve the Agency 2030 aspirations
  • Working to build a workplace that fosters innovation and collaboration at all levels, and that is supportive of employees' health and well-being
  • Continuing its work on the Digital Business Strategy and Digital Implementation Plan to implement a comprehensive, integrated approach in advancing digital initiatives
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