External Consultations 

Backgrounder

Overview

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is listening to Canadians, changing how it works, and improving its services with the goal to be trusted, fair and helpful by putting people first. 

To progress towards this goal, the CRA launched public consultations to better understand Canadians' perception of and experience with the Agency, in order to better meet their expectations. They include online consultations where all Canadians can provide feedback, as well as in-person sessions in different cities across Canada. 

Although the CRA continues to introduce new services to make it easier for Canadians to file their taxes and access the credits and benefits they are entitled to, the Agency acknowledges it needs to continue improving. 

Chief Service Officer 

On March 23, 2018, the CRA made a public commitment to transform its approach to service by appointing Mireille Laroche as Chief Service Officer (CSO). The CSO's role is to lead the Agency's service transformation with a mandate to:

  • Guide the development and transformation of programs and services to improve the service experience of Canadians.
  • Design programs and services from a client's perspective and across the continuum of potential interactions.
  • Create service outcomes that uphold – and go beyond – what is outlined in the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights and pro-actively leverage feedback from clients.

As announced in October 2018, the CSO is leading a number of concrete actions aimed at better understanding and meeting the expectations of Canadians. These include: 

  • Launching online and in-person public consultations.
  • Holding a series of design workshops with key stakeholders and users to promote co-creation of service improvements. The first workshop is scheduled for May 2019.
  • Seeking advice and expertise on emerging trends and practices in service design and delivery from the external advisory panel on service, which was announced in December 2018 and is comprised of senior leaders from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The panel has been active since January 2019, and will meet again in May 2019.

With this approach, the Agency stands among other public and private organizations who put a concerted focus on the effective and integrated delivery of client-centric services. The CRA is listening, changing, and improving.

The purpose of public consultations 

Upcoming consultations will supplement the input the CRA is receiving through existing feedback channels, public opinion research projects, consultations, call centres and social media, which are already shaping service improvements. They build upon the success the CRA has had with its Serving You Better consultations, through which the CRA gathered feedback primarily from small and medium businesses and accountants and that led directly to service improvements such as BizApp.

The goal of these consultations is to work directly with Canadians to obtain answers to questions such as:

  1. What is the CRA doing well and what difficulties do people face when interacting with the Agency? 
  2. How can the CRA make their service experience better? 
  3. How can the CRA tell if a change has helped?

Methodology

A mix of open online consultations and invitation-only in-person consultations is being undertaken to produce qualitative and quantitative data that the CRA will be able to use to improve services and the experience of people interacting with the Agency. 

Canadians across the country will be able to provide input through an online consultation that will be available from April 23 until June 18, 2019. It has been designed to be more widely accessible than the in-person consultation sessions while generating feedback on the same topics that will be explored during the sessions. 

To help ensure focused feedback is received, invitation-only in-person sessions with individuals and representatives of vulnerable populations are being held during May and June 2019. Consultations are scheduled in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Moncton, Montreal and Halifax. A third party will conduct the in-person consultation sessions to ensure that the CRA receives unbiased input from the public it serves, with CRA officials observing. 

A separate third party is recruiting participants for each session. Recruitment criteria has been established so that participants shed light on the needs and expectations of Canadians with diverse backgrounds. Participants must have had a recent interaction with the CRA. 

The third party will ensure that sessions include participants from all genders, ages, and income and education levels, and representing diverse racial and cultural identities, among other factors. In addition, advocates will be recruited to better understand Canadians with specialized needs, such as seniors, newcomers, persons with disabilities, low-income individuals, students, and benefit recipients. 

The methodology being employed for these consultations has been established with the input of external advisors possessing specialized expertise in consultation design.

Next steps

During these consultations, the CRA will listen and learn from Canadians, and will hear about their experiences with the Agency and their hopes and expectations for future interactions. Through this, the public will inform the CRA's service transformation agenda over the course of the next few years.  

The Agency will be proactive in communicating what was heard throughout the consultations and how the feedback of Canadians is leading to real results. A third party will facilitate all in-person sessions and, following each session, report on what was heard. This third party will also report findings from the online consultations. The CRA will publish online results as soon as they become available. 

This commitment is part of an ongoing relationship the CRA hopes to develop with interested Canadians. Summaries of each in-person consultation will be published as sessions conclude, and a final report is expected in the Fall 2019.

The CRA continues to develop services and programs designed for the needs of Canadians. For example, as a direct result of feedback, the CRA recently quadrupled the budget of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, through which 17,700 volunteers filled more than 785,000 returns last year, helping vulnerable Canadians access the credits and benefits to which they are entitled; made it easier for some 2 million paper tax filers to do their taxes by mailing them their forms and guides directly; and has implemented a new call centre platform. These service enhancements, among other improvements so far, address some of the issues Canadians have told us they faced when they interact with the CRA. While they will be of significant benefit to Canadians, they are just the beginning of the CRA's client-focused approach to service.

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