Serving Canadians Better – Consultation Summary Report

October 10, 2019

Prepared for:

Canada Revenue Agency

Chief Service Officer

Prepared by:

Stantec Consulting Ltd.

Stantec logo

This document entitled Serving Canadians Better was prepared by Stantec Consulting Ltd. ("Stantec") for the account of Canada Revenue Agency (the "Client"). Any reliance on this document by any third party is strictly prohibited. The material in it reflects Stantec's professional judgment in light of the scope, schedule and other limitations stated in the document and in the contract between Stantec and the Client. The opinions in the document are based on conditions and information existing at the time the document was published and do not take into account any subsequent changes. In preparing the document, Stantec did not verify information supplied to it by others. Any use which a third party makes of this document is the responsibility of such third party. Such third party agrees that Stantec shall not be responsible for costs or damages of any kind, if any, suffered by it or any other third party as a result of decisions made or actions taken based on this document.

Prepared by

Signature of Kaelin Koufogiannakis

Kaelin Koufogiannakis

Reviewed by

Signature of Michele Perret

Michele Perret

Executive Summary

In line with its commitment to be a client-centric organization that is fair, trusted and helpful by putting people first, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)'s Chief Service Officer (CSO) led an integrated public and stakeholder consultation process after the 2019 tax season to receive input on different perspectives of the CRA and service experiences with the CRA.

Specifically, the CSO led a consultation process between April and June 2019 that included an online consultation and seven facilitated in-person sessions. The in-person sessions, which were held across Canada, included members of the general public and agencies, including NGOs, that support and advocate for vulnerable Canadians. Four in-person sessions were conducted in English, and three were conducted in French. A total of 142 people participated in the seven sessions, and a range of people identifying themselves as individual taxpayers, tax preparers/professionals, self-employed individuals, business owners, or "other" responded to each of the three subjects (service experiences, service improvements, and future direction) in the online consultation.

During the in-person sessions, attendees were asked:

Attendees identified services offered by the CRA, such as My Account and Autofill my return, as positive changes and encouraged the CRA to continue providing these services. Current service issues that attendees commonly emphasized included call centre wait times, the need to make it easier to access and understand programs and resources that meet diverse needs, and a lack of information on dealing with scams and clarity of information.

Attendees characterized an ideal service relationship as including more personalized service with a broader variety of options for interacting with agents, more education and communication from the CRA and continuous opportunities to provide feedback. Having a partnership mentality, increased transparency, and empathetic attitudes were other key characteristics of an ideal service relationship. Attendees indicated that two years in the future, the CRA should have implemented more personalized, empathetic customer service with improved accessibility, better access to information, decreased wait times, and enhanced education for young people and newcomers. Online consultation respondents also noted the need for more consistency and accuracy in the information that CRA agents provide when assisting Canadians with their income tax and benefit returns.

The CRA also launched and promoted an online consultation which generated approximately 3,300 responses from Canadians.

This report includes an overview of the consultation program design and statistics, and what we heard from the facilitated in-person sessions and online consultation.

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background

The CSO's mandate is to:

Stantec Consulting Ltd. (Stantec) was hired as a neutral, third-party facilitator to manage logistics, recruit participants for the facilitated sessions, collaborate with the CRA to finalize the facilitation guides, facilitate and take notes at the workshops, and write summaries of each workshop and a final summary of the consultation process. Stantec was also asked to summarize the online consultation data and was not involved in the design of the questions or the architecture of the online consultation.

The consultation process occurred as follows:

Consultation process details – chart

Text description for consultation process details chart
  • This is a timeline of the consultation process that dates from October 2018 until November 2019. The timeline is divided into 6 phases. The first phase is titled ministerial announcement, which is displayed as a purple arrow, starting from October 2018 until the beginning of November 2018. The second phase is titled consultation planning, which is displayed as a yellow arrow and begins at the end of November 2018 until the beginning of April 2019. The third phase is titled online consultation, which is displayed as an orange arrow from March 2019 until the end of June 2019. The fourth phase is titled in-person sessions, which is displayed as a blue arrow and starts at the end of April 2019 and ends in June 2019. The fifth phase is analysis and reporting, which is displayed as a black arrow and spans from July 2019 until the beginning of November 2019. Two black lines from the online consultation and in-person sessions come together to signify that the analysis and reporting comes from the results of both these phases. The sixth phase is reporting back to the public and is displayed as a solid green line over November 2019.

1.2 Objectives and Purpose

The purpose of the consultation was to listen to and learn from Canadians about their current service experience with the CRA and their expectations for the future to inform the CRA service transformation agenda over the next 2 years. The consultation process was limited to gathering input/feedback concerning service delivery issues and opportunities for improvement related to the mandate of the CRA. Specific objectives of the public consultation included:

  1. To inform the Canadian public about the CRA's current services, the current status of known service challenges and constraints, and the progress being made towards a people-focused CRA.
  2. To listen to and learn from Canadians about general challenges and opportunities they encounter when interacting with the CRA's people, products and services.
  3. To gain insight about clients' perceptions of the gaps between their current relationship with the CRA and their desired one.
  4. To identify and discuss what Canadians expect from the CRA, and what would signal to them that the CRA has changed its approach and is committed to improving service in a tangible way.
  5. To inform participants of how the CRA will use the feedback and offer opportunities to participate in future engagements.

The public consultation is a part of a robust and continuing effort (including ongoing public opinion research surveys and focus groups, an expert panel, design jams, and user experience testing) to hear from Canadians on how to improve their overall service experience.

Following each in-person consultation session participants were notified directly of the high-level findings discussed, which were also posted on CRA's online consultation platform Footnote 1. The CRA will share the consultation results with Canadians in Fall 2019. Feedback gathered from the public has been summarized in this report, to guide improvements to how the CRA designs and delivers services. The input received will assist CRA internal governance in making decisions regarding enhancements to service improvement over the short and long-term horizon of its transformation journey.

2.0 Consultation Design

From mid-April to mid-June 2019, the CRA conducted an online consultation on, and it held seven facilitated in-person sessions across Canada. The in-person sessions were designed for two audiences: the general public and the agencies that support vulnerable Canadians and advocate for them.

Section 3.1 summarizes the results of the in-person sessions, and Section 3.2 summarizes the results of the online consultation.

2.1 Facilitated In-Person Sessions

Seven facilitated in-person sessions were held between May and June 2019 in six cities: Halifax, Moncton, Montreal (2 sessions), Mississauga, Winnipeg and Vancouver. Four of the sessions were conducted in English and three in French. A total of 142 people participated in the seven sessions. The following summarizes the location, date, and attendance of the in-person sessions.

Facilitated In-Person Sessions
Session Date Session Location Session Type Session Language Attendance
May 2, 2019 Halifax, NS General Public English 23
May 9, 2019 Mississauga, ON General Public English 23
May 16, 2019 Vancouver, BC Advocates English 15
May 22, 2019 Moncton, NB General Public French 19
May 27, 2019 Montreal, QC Advocates French 14
May 27, 2019 Montreal, QC General Public French 23
June 4, 2019 Winnipeg, MB General Public English 25

Various senior CRA leaders attended each session as part of the CRA's commitment for decision-makers to attend and receive feedback firsthand. The CSO attended all seven in-person sessions, while other sessions included the Commissioner of the CRA, the Minister of National Revenue, the Deputy Commissioner, or local CRA senior managers. Attendees at all sessions noted this representation from senior leaders positively and felt it showed their opinions were genuinely valued.

2.1.1 Session Strategy

The in-person sessions were designed to meet specific outcomes, summarized below.

In-Person Sessions Outcomes
Session Outputs Design
Receive input from regions across Canada Host sessions in communities from coast to coast
Recruit participants from different walks of life to receive input that reflects a range of different service related experiences. Host sessions in both official languages
Recruit attendees based on diverse population demographics
Create sessions targeting the general population
Create sessions targeting advocates for vulnerable populations
Provide opportunities for different types of interactions at sessions. Use multiple formats for conversations, including small and large group discussions, presentation of information by CRA representatives, ice breaker, and Q&A with representatives from CSO and other CRA program areas
Incentivize and help remove common barriers to participation Offer honoraria to:
  1. Recognize the time participants are taking to provide feedback/input concerning service improvements that all Canadians can benefit from
  2. Assist with unforeseen costs to participation (i.e. dependent care, transportation, parking, meals, etc.)

Host sessions at accessible locations and times (daytime for advocates, evenings for general public)

Provide meals for session attendees

2.1.2 Session Recruitment

The public session attendees were recruited by a third party using a telephone survey to screen participants and generate a diverse cross-section of Canadian taxpayers in terms of age, gender, and economic status. There was no demographic quota used in selecting these participants; however, the selection criteria demonstrated an effort to recruit a diverse mix of Canadians. Graphs capturing participant demographics collectively across all sessions are included in the Appendix A. The criteria sought to recruit individuals was based on:

Participants also had to meet the following standards:

The advocacy session attendees were recruited from organizations in Montreal and Vancouver that assist vulnerable members of the community with their taxes or help them qualify for social programs that rely on tax filings. The CRA sought to recruit advocates representing the following groups of Canadians:

The identities of participants were kept anonymous to create a comfortable and safe environment that would encourage them to speak without the fear of judgement or consequence.

2.1.3 Session Logistics

The in-person sessions for the general public consisted of three English-language sessions (Halifax, Mississauga, and Winnipeg) and two French-language sessions (Moncton and Montreal). The sessions took place from 6 pm to 9 pm, which was intended to be outside the working hours of most Canadians.

Two sessions were held for advocates for vulnerable populations: a French session in Montreal and an English session in Vancouver. Both advocate sessions took place in the morning so that representatives could attend as part of their workday.

Details on session locations, dates and attendance can be found in Section 3.1.

2.1.4 Session Structure

In-person sessions lasted approximately 3 hours and opened with the Stantec facilitator welcoming the group, providing an Indigenous traditional territory acknowledgement, a safety review and an overview of the meeting's purpose and agenda. The CSO presented information on her role and the consultation's purpose, and she outlined service improvements undertaken since 2015. Stantec or CRA note takers documented the feedback in small groups. The Stantec facilitator documented feedback shared during the whole group report back following small group discussions.

Discussions with participants were divided into three topics:

Supporting questions related to each topic were included in the both the small-and large-group facilitated discussions.

The same questions were asked during the public and advocate sessions and the English and French sessions. Note takers recorded information discussed in the groups or posted on flipcharts. Section 5 summarizes the themes from these in-person sessions.

Online Consultation

The CRA ran an online consultation with the general public using its online engagement tool, CRA Engage – What we heard, from April 23 to June 18, 2019. It posed questions on three subjects: service experience, service improvements, and future direction. There were three separate questionnaires, one for each subject. Each subject contained multiple choice and open-ended questions, which were designed to allow the participants to quickly navigate through them. The online consultation was available in French and English, and the results from both languages were pooled together for analysis.

Stantec was tasked with analyzing and summarizing the online consultation data and was not involved in the design of online consultation questions or its architecture. A summarized analysis of the online consultation responses provided to Stantec is included in Section 6.0.

The following table summarizes the number of respondents who completed each questionnaire.

Questionnaire respondents
Consultation Subject Total Submissions
Service Experience 1,502
Service Improvements 1,483
Future Direction 362
Total 3,347

3.0 What We Heard: Facilitated In-Person

Attendees at the in-person sessions provided feedback on three main topics.

Topic 1: What does good service look like?

Topic 2: How do we get there? Our service journey into the future.

Topic 3: What does success look like?

Sections 3.1 to 3.3 summarize the themes that arose from attendees' discussion of each topic. Themes were generated based on repeated comments or discussion topics that could be grouped together. In general, similar themes were reflected in the English and French sessions. The advocate sessions included discussions of services specific to the work done by their organizations: these themes are included in the summary below.

3.1 Topic 1: What does good service look like?

Attendees were asked about what the CRA should keep doing and what should be changed.

3.1.1 Question 1A – What do you want the CRA to keep doing?

Theme A) Continue helpful service improvements.

Attendees at every session welcomed the improvements that have streamlined their ability to interact with the CRA, including Autofill my return, the call centres' new callback feature, and My Account. The attendees who had used Autofill my return mentioned it shortened the time it took to complete their tax returns. Attendees positively viewed My Account features such as using a secure partner to access the service, viewing information from previous tax years, comparing returns and taxes owed, and receiving email notifications about online mail from the CRA. Occasional reference was made to the high level of security in online services, which was viewed positively.

Theme B) Call centre agents are knowledgeable and professional.

At six of the sessions, attendees commented that they have had positive experiences with call centre agents and that they found the agents able to provide good answers to their questions and professional in their interactions. This included providing information on unique tax situations and commonly asked questions, directing callers to additional resources on the website, and helping them access My Account.

Theme C) Continue website design improvements that enhance access to information.

Attendees at five sessions described the CRA's web content on positively, with comments that it looks modern and is easier to navigate than other government websites. They generally indicated that the CRA's web pages provide answers to most questions, if the correct search terms are used. However, some attendees identified difficulties finding the information they were looking for and suggested there is room for improvement in the search engine and in creating a menu that gives easy access to frequently requested pages.

Theme D) The volunteer help line and outreach program are valuable resources for advocates.

In the advocate sessions, a common theme was the value of the CVITP help line and the outreach program. Attendees positively viewed the availability of outreach officers for in-person visits and outreach programs like orientation sessions, training for volunteers, webinars and access to resources. The ability of advocates to submit Form T1013, Authorizing or Cancelling a Representative, online and receive instant access to clients' tax information was also noted as a useful feature.

3.1.2 Question 1B – What do you want the CRA to change?

Note: Attendees provided many suggestions for changes that the CRA could make, but it is worth noting that some suggested features already exist. This suggests a lack of awareness of what is already offered, indicating that further information and outreach on existing programs may be required.

Theme A) Make it easier for diverse Canadians to access and understand programs and resources that meet their needs.

Attendees at nearly every session, including both advocate sessions, mentioned the need for the CRA to provide better accessibility for Canada's increasingly diverse population, and they identified access and support barriers for seniors and newcomers. These barriers include language, fear of government agencies, fear of scammers, lack of education on tax processes, and having to call multiple departments to get answers. Advocates also expressed that, because many of their clients have not been in Canada for long or do not have a fixed address, it can be difficult to provide the types of personal information the CRA requires.

The technical language of CRA web content can also be a significant barrier to understanding for both established Canadians and newcomers. Opportunities to improve accessibility include providing services and documents in frequently used languages other than English and French (for example, Mandarin, Punjabi, Arabic, Hindi, or Spanish), using less technical language for online information, using new technologies to assist people with visual and hearing impairments, and providing service options for seniors who prefer not to go online.

Some attendees in the advocate sessions also indicated that raising the income threshold to qualify for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) would let more people get help, including many of the working poor who do not currently qualify.

Some attendees at the Montreal session suggested that volunteer organizations should be able to receive an official accreditation with the CRA to ensure a standard of quality and ongoing services.

Theme B) Implement more upgrades and updates to technology.

At every session, attendees discussed their appreciation for the technological improvements that the CRA has made in recent years and asked for these improvements to continue. A frequent suggestion was allow online chats (also known as live chats) on My Account for specific information and on for general inquiries.

While attendees felt that My Account has been a great innovation, many noted it has room to grow and evolve into a more useful tool. Suggestions included letting taxpayers upload documents on My Account and create accounts or reset passwords without having to contact the call centre, as well as creating an app they can use on mobile devices.

With respect to Autofill my return, some attendees brought up problems that need to be fixed. For example, in Quebec, users have to manually input the provincial forms after the federal forms have been autofilled. And, although this online tool is widely appreciated, some attendees also thought there should be an option to file by phone.

Some attendees at advocate sessions mentioned issues with the computers that the CRA provides to volunteers, and how this technology should be upgraded to better serve client needs.

Theme C) Call centre wait times and hours need to improve, and there should be options for in-person services.

A common theme among attendees at all sessions was frustration with wait times for call centres. Long wait times were identified as a significant barrier to service, particularly due to the limited call centre hours. Attendees indicated that their calls were sometimes dropped while on hold.

There appeared to be a misunderstanding among some participants concerning the availability of a callback feature at the CRA. Although not yet implemented, some expressed a desire for this feature or looked forward to using it in the future to reduce how much time they spend on hold Footnote 2.

In addition, although a feature indicating how long callers can expect to remain on hold is currently available for both individual and business related enquiries attendees said that the CRA should tell people expected wait times Footnote 3 and better communicate the hours that the call centre is open.

Attendees at all sessions indicated a desire for in-person services with opportunities for face-to-face interaction with the CRA, to reduce the time it would take to receive services.

With respect to the CVITP volunteer help line, advocates expressed some frustration that they cannot access it after April 30, which is the end of tax season. The long wait times for the volunteer help line also posed challenges, particularly for clients who want to authorize an advocate. Often clients cannot stay with the advocate for the time is takes to connect to an agent and provide authorization.

Other consequences of long wait times include additional stress, the cascading effects on access to other services like employment insurance, and reduced windows of time to pay the CRA by the tax deadline.

Theme D) Provide better communication through a broader variety of channels.

Traditional media, television advertisements, and website resources were identified as communication channels that the CRA could use to improve its public relations and ensure that information reaches all Canadians. Better communication should be provided in a publicity campaign using a variety of channels.

Communication was also discussed in the context of My Account. Attendees discussed how My Account could be more user friendly if the CRA provided notifications about important dates and service updates and scams and let clients track information, such as if the CRA has received their documents and confirm progress on files.

Theme E) Pay more attention to security and combatting scams and proactive communications.

Attendees at all sessions indicated that they had been contacted by a person or organization impersonating the CRA and, as a result, were cautious when responding to any communication that appeared to be from the CRA. They stated that more education on how to confirm you are communicating with the real CRA is necessary, as well as ways to deal with suspected scams.

Although already in place, one attendee suggested integrating standard security practices used in the commercial sector, such as two-factor authentication.

3.1.3 Current Rating of Satisfaction

Attendees were asked to rate their level of service in the current relationship they have with the CRA on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 meaning "significant room for improvement" and 10 meaning "I'm amazingly satisfied." The average response across all sessions was 6.7. Topic 2 discusses how the CRA can move the relationship towards being a 10.

Satisfaction Rating – graph

Text description for satisfaction rating graph
  • This graph is a bar chart that shows satisfaction rating that attendees have with their current relationship with the CRA. This chart is into ratings from 1 to 10. Of 142 respondents, the percentage that selected a rating of 1 is 0.7 percent, 0 percent selected 2, 1.4 percent selected 3, 3.5 percent selected 4, 10.5 percent selected 5, 23.8 percent selected 6, 34.3 percent selected 7, 20.3 percent selected 8, 5.6 percent selected 9, and 0 percent selected 10.

3.2 Topic 2: How do we get there? Our service journey into the future.

Attendees were asked to discuss their ideal service relationship with the CRA.

3.2.1 Question 2A – What does an ideal service relationship with the CRA look like?

Theme A) More education and communication on the CRA, taxes and program updates.

Attendees consistently expressed a desire to receive more information from the CRA on things like changes to the filing process, steps for signing up for services, and answers to common questions. Some attendees expressed a lack of awareness of new features, and many indicated they do not do their taxes themselves because they are not confident in their ability to do so correctly or they do not trust the Autofill my return feature. More education and proactive communication about tax-filing features and program updates, as well as resources like online tutorials, would enhance the service relationship with the CRA.

Further, the CRA would benefit from increasing communications about its mandate and how taxes are used to support society, as well as demonstrating it is working to improve taxpayer experiences.

Theme B) More options for interacting with agents.

Opportunities to interact with agents in a wider variety of ways was identified as key to service excellence at all sessions. Suggestions included online chats (also known as live chats), setting a time for a telephone meeting, assigning a case worker and file number for ongoing or complex issues, and creating opportunities for in-person interactions, such as kiosks in malls.

Attendees at the session in Moncton emphasized a desire to have bilingual agents who could speak with them in regional dialects like le chiac, rather than having to choose English or French.

Theme C) Make it a personalized experience.

Attendees at all sessions identified a more personalized and tailored experience as key to service excellence. Many expressed frustration with the need to reconfirm their identity several times when being transferred between agents at the call centre or having to repeatedly call for follow-up on ongoing or complex issues. The elements suggested for a personalized experience included being addressed by name, avoiding "transactional" interactions, and the need for the CRA to value clients' time more highly. The service provided by banks was often cited as a good example due to the personal experiences, and ability to speak to an agent in person.

Theme D) Agents work as case managers.

In nearly all sessions, service excellence was associated with the idea of agents working as case managers to taxpayers. This was suggested as a means of building a relationship between a taxpayer and agent, which would allow for continuity in interactions over time and increased personalization. For example, agents may provide helpful suggestions to clients such as tax credits and benefit eligibility, and can help them navigate the CRA system when there is an issue. One attendee discussed a positive interaction in the past where an agent called her to discuss deductions she had missed in filing her taxes. The attendee indicated this service model would be welcome.

The idea of agents acting as case managers also includes specialization for people in particular situations, such as seniors, first-time filers, those who have had a change in life situation such as a divorce, people with disabilities, and members of vulnerable populations.

There was frustration with the red tape for qualifying for assistance programs and the lack of clarity about what information is needed to qualify for assistance. Some attendees discussed how agents should act to lower these barriers and help people who need assistance to access services.

Theme E) Interaction and information throughout the year.

In three sessions, attendees discussed the desire to have interaction and information throughout the year, rather than just at tax time. Advocates mentioned this in the context of having limited access to services after the filing period.

Some attendees said it would be useful to receive updates throughout the year about relevant tax bracket information, such as an update when their tax bracket changes and how it might be impacted by working multiple jobs or on a commission based salary. These participants noted that Canadians employed under these kinds of work arrangements may benefit from receiving updates on their current account status for tax payments and contributions to registered accounts such as RRSPs and TFSAs.

Theme F) Integration among levels of government and government departments.

Issues with a lack of coordination among levels of government and government departments were identified by attendees at three sessions as a significant barrier to efficient, successful outcomes. When a client is transferred to a new agent or department within the CRA, it should be a seamless transfer, and the new agent should have access to all relevant information, such as recent conversation notes and case history, without needing to verify the client's identity. For example, attendees noted that errors in personal information are complicated to correct and require contacting many different departments.

Another suggestion put forward to improve integration was the harmonization of processes and terminology between provincial, territorial and federal governments.

Theme G) Balance response timelines for the CRA and taxpayers.

Attendees at three sessions noted that the CRA should make available a better system for communicating timelines such as deadlines for information requests and estimates for response times. A key element of this theme was the need for balance between the CRA's deadlines for taxpayers to respond to its requests and the time it takes the CRA to respond to taxpayers' requests. At present, the CRA often gives short deadlines for taxpayers but does not set any deadlines for itself to acknowledge or respond to taxpayers. This was viewed as unfair.

Theme H) Provide opportunities to give feedback to the CRA.

The ability for taxpayers to give the CRA feedback after an interaction were identified by attendees at four sessions as important to continually improving service. For example, filling out a satisfaction survey after a call centre interaction would help to improve service over time.

3.3 Topic 3: What does success look like?

Session participants were asked to describe characteristics of a good service relationship, based on their experiences so far with the CRA and other service-based organizations.

Following the discussion of these characteristics, attendees were asked to suggest tangible indicators of service excellence and improvement that the CRA could demonstrate within two years.

3.3.1 Question 3A – Describe characteristics of a good service relationship.

Theme A) Partnership mentality

Developing a relationship with taxpayers that is more like a partnership was seen by attendees at four sessions as an important way to drive more accurate tax filing and more amiable interactions between the CRA and taxpayers. The CRA should be a partner working with Canadians, rather than against them.

Attendees at advocate sessions added that the CRA should work to break down barriers such as language, fear of government agencies, fear of scammers, lack of education on tax processes, and should improve access to existing programs and benefits wherever possible.

Theme B) Transparency and Being Proactive

Attendees at four sessions indicated that the CRA should work towards increased levels of transparency. It should help Canadians to better understand the tax process, the length of the process and estimated timelines, and why certain information is required. The need for transparency also applies to communicating openly about what the CRA does and how the organization is changing for the better, which will help to build trust with Canadians. Attendees at five sessions emphasized the proactive role the CRA should have in educating Canadians on financial literacy and how the tax system works, reaching out to discuss potential deductions, and communicating upcoming changes.

Theme C) Empathy

At four sessions, attendees stated that empathy is key for service excellence, particularly in tax filing, as most tax filers are trying to do the right things but sometimes make mistakes during the complicated process. Working with clients to help them navigate the process and having empathy for unique, complex situations will help the CRA enhance a sense of partnership. Attendees at advocate sessions emphasized the importance of empathy, as many members of the vulnerable population are afraid of the government and the CRA. A variety of factors can contribute to this fear, for example, problems resulting from mental illness or experiences with police in other countries. Providing training for call centre agents in how to interact with empathy and awareness of diverse backgrounds was suggested.

Theme D) Security

With the recent prevalence of CRA-related scams, some attendees expressed distrust and uneasiness when dealing with the CRA. Having security systems in place and releasing information about combatting scams will help to build a foundation of trust.

Theme E) Flexibility

Flexibility was emphasized by attendees at three sessions. They stated that it is important to avoid ‘one size fits all' solutions to problems, as Canadians are all different and need help in different ways. This means the access to help should be offered in different ways too—in person, by telephone, online, and in print. Flexible ways to access service, such as hours outside of the workday, could contribute to better service outcomes, in addition to more agents working at peak times.

An element of flexibility raised by advocates was having more forgiveness on small tax amounts owing, such as those under $100.The effort involved in recovering these sums from vulnerable populations seems unfair to many.

3.3.2 Question 3B – Two years in the future, what tangible things has the CRA done to continue showing its commitment and shift in approach?

Theme A) More personalized customer service.

As discussed by attendees at all sessions, service excellence is primarily defined by personalized customer service. One particular action the CRA could take to achieve this, suggested by attendees many times, would be to assign a case worker and file number for individuals with a complex and ongoing issue. Creating a relationship between agents and clients would allow for more personal interaction and give agents a better understanding of the situation. It would also reduce processing times for clients by avoiding the need start at the beginning each time a client phones the CRA.

Another element of personalized customer service that was suggested several times would be to have dedicated specialized services for certain groups, like first-time filers, seniors, newcomers, and students, which may include dedicated call centres for each.

Theme B) Improved accessibility.

Opportunities for improved accessibility was a theme mentioned by attendees at all sessions. Suggestions included:

One method to do so which was discussed at all sessions was access to in-person services, such as kiosks in malls or dedicated CRA service centres.

Attendees at advocate sessions indicated that technological innovations for volunteers in general could significantly improve accessibility. Their suggestions included video conferencing to establish identity, allowing users to upload more documents or access information online, and the ability to chat online (also known as live chats).

Theme C) Better access to information.

Suggestions on increasing access to information, which is a theme raised at five sessions, included creating more obvious links to online resources for help with tax filing and making sure call centre staff are consistently trained and helpful. Other suggestions were to provide online chats (also known as live chats) and tutorials, tailor tax guides for different types of taxpayers (such as first-time filers, seniors, newcomers, and students), and create a guide on how to file taxes for those recently deceased.

Information should also be provided about identifying scams and what to do about them, as well as how to know that you are communicating with the real CRA.

Theme D) Decreased processing times and call centre wait times.

Decreasing processing times and call centre wait times was emphasized by attendees at all sessions. Various changes, such as a wider variety of ways to interact with agents, extended call centre hours, and more opportunities for self-service online, were identified as key to achieving this goal. Attendees at advocate sessions indicated the impact of decreased call centre wait times, as a long wait time is a barrier to filing for many members of vulnerable populations.

Theme E) Increased education for young people and newcomers.

In five sessions, the CRA was identified as having a role to play in educating young Canadians and newcomers on how to file taxes correctly and how to access other services, such as My Account. This role could take the form of tailored tax guides, online webinars, or courses taught in schools. Some attendees indicated that education about filing taxes typically occurs at home from parents or other family members, but more standardized and broadly taught information should be incorporated into school curriculums to ensure that young Canadians are well equipped to file taxes as adults.

Theme F) Implementation of pre-filled forms to be verified by taxpayers.

At three sessions, the idea was put forward to elevate Autofill my return so that Canadians are essentially confirming their taxes instead of doing them. Attendees discussed current examples from countries where the government produces a declaration that each taxpayer validates rather than filling their own out return.

Theme G) Ongoing engagement with Canadians on service levels.

There was a desire at five sessions for more ongoing consultation with Canadians on how the CRA can continue to evolve. As part of a service mentality, listening to ‘customer' feedback is instrumental. The ability for taxpayers to offer quick feedback after each interaction with the CRA can contribute to continually improving service and finding opportunities for growth.

There was also interest in seeing the results of these consultations and learning about the changes that the CRA will make based on the feedback.

3.4 Session Evaluation

Each of the seven in-person sessions closed with participants completing a session evaluation, in the language of the session. A full summary of the session evaluations can be found in the Appendix B.

Overall, evaluations from participants at every session were positive, with the majority of attendees indicating that they "Strongly Agree" or "Somewhat Agree" with each of the evaluation statements. "Strongly Agree" and "Somewhat Agree" are used to measure overall agreement.

In particular, session evaluations across general population and advocate sessions found that:

What We Heard: Online Consultation

4.1 Methodology

Providing participants with the flexibility to provide feedback on topics that relate to their interests is a best practice in public engagement and consultation. Each questionnaire was created as a stand-alone, as opposed to collective and linear experience, so that participants could complete questionnaires they felt were applicable. As a result, the completion rates for each questionnaire varied widely. The online consultation consisted of three questionnaires, each focusing on a core area of the service relationship: service experiences, service improvements or future direction. The quantitative data was compiled and analyzed, and the qualitative comments were reviewed and grouped together into themes in a similar method as the facilitated sessions.

The CRA promoted the online consultations through a series of press releases, correspondence to agency stakeholders, and social media posts issued during the consultation period. The promotional efforts used generated approximately 3,300 responses from Canadians. Session attendees were also given reminder cards, with information on the online consultation and the link to the web page, to take home and distribute, and were sent follow-up emails thanking them for their involvement and encouraging them to share the online consultation. Finally, CRA Outreach Officers were provided these products to share during ongoing outreach events and initiatives, and posters and reminder cards promoting the online consultations were available for stakeholders to distribute to their constituencies.

The online consultation allowed for greater participation in the overall project from a broader segment of the Canadian population.

There was no attempt to create a statistically significant level of responses based on geography or other demographic information during the promotion and recruitment for online participation.

4.2 Service Experience

The online questionnaire about service experience asked respondents for information about themselves as well as their interactions with the CRA. The interaction types were not specified and could have been associated with a variety of tax-related issues.

4.2.1 Participant demographics

The demographics shown here apply only to the respondents who completed the service experience questionnaire. The other two online questionnaires did not ask a similar question.

In this multiple choice question, the majority of respondents (66%) described themselves as an individual taxpayer (e.g. wage/salary earner and/or benefit recipient.) The 5% of respondents who listed themselves as "Other" included representatives from charitable and non-profit organizations, estate executors, and non- residents. It is possible that some respondents who identified themselves as tax preparers/professionals also fit into the individual taxpayer or self-employed/business owner categories.

Participant demographics – graph

Text description for participant demographics graph
  • This graph is a pie chart shows the results of multiple-choice questions where respondents were asked to identify the demographic that best describes. The chart is divided into 5 parts. The green wedge titled individual taxpayer (e.g. wage/salary earner and/or benefit recipient) is 66 percent. The red wedge titled tax preparer/professional is 19 percent. The yellow wedge titled self-employed individual is 5 percent. The blue wedge titled business owner is 5 percent. The gray wedge titled other is 5 percent. 1502 respondents answered this question.

4.2.2 Interaction within the Last 12 Months

Interaction within the last 12 months – graph

Text description for Interaction within the last 12 months graph
  • This graph is a bar chart that shows how often respondents interacted with the CRA over the past 12 months. The chart is divided into 4 parts; the first bar is “I haven’t interacted with the CRA in the past 12 months” and has a value of 8 percent. The second bar is “Only once” and has a value of 13 percent. The third bar is “2-3 times” and has a value of 29 percent. The fourth bar is “4 or more times” and has a value of 50 percent. There is a black line over bar two, three and four, to signify that 92 percent of respondents had at least one interaction with the CRA. 1502 respondents answered this question.

Of the respondents, 92% had at least one or more interactions with the CRA in the past 12 months, while 8% reported they hadn't interacted with the CRA during this time.

4.2.3 Meeting the Needs of Canadians

The remaining questions in the service experience questionnaire were a series of related questions on service experience. Respondents were first asked whether their interactions with the CRA had met their needs or not, through which channels these interactions had taken place, their level satisfaction with these interactions, and what worked well and what needed improvement. When asked whether they had a service experience with the CRA that met their needs, approximately 1/3 (36%) felt they had, with 75% of those interactions occurring over the telephone and 49% occurring online. Respondents were allowed to choose more than one interaction channel.

Service experience for needs met – graph

Page details

Date modified: