Annual Report to Parliament 2014-2015

Program: Benefit Programs

The CRA 's Benefit Programs provide Canadians with the benefits they are entitled to. The CRA delivers a range of ongoing benefits and one-time payment programs such as the Canada child tax benefit, goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit, disability tax credit, and universal child care benefit, on behalf of the provinces and territories, and other federal government departments. By providing accessible information and timely responses to benefit recipients by mail, telephone, and digital services, we help to make sure the right benefit payment is made to the right individual at the right time.

$22B 

We paid close to $22 billion in benefit payments

Subprogram descriptions

Benefit Enquiries
This program gives benefit recipients timely and accessible information on their entitlements and obligations through self-service and assisted channels.
Benefit Programs Administration
This program delivers a range of ongoing benefits and one-time payment programs to support the economic and social well-being of Canadians. Through processing and validation activities, we make sure the right benefit payment is made to the right individual at the right time.
Statutory Children's Special Allowance Payments
This program provides payments to the federal and provincial agencies and institutions caring for children. All funding in this program flows through to recipients, and no administrative expenditures are deducted. The administration of this program is accounted for in the Benefit Programs Administration program.

Benefit Enquiries

Millions of Canadians depend on the benefit and credit programs the CRA administers for an important part of their income. We respond promptly to more than 6 million telephone enquiries from recipients. Our capacity to respond to the high volumes of telephone enquiries will improve with our Contact Centre Transformation initiative, discussed in the chapter, Taxpayer and Business Assistance.

We publish news and other information concerning the benefit and credit programs we administer at www.cra.gc.ca/benefitsix. Benefit recipients can also subscribe to our email list to be notified when the CRA issues the Canada child tax benefit, GST/HST credit, universal child care benefit, and advance payments of the working income tax benefit.

The CRA issued 115 million benefit and credit payments worth close to $22 billion to over 12 million Canadians 

Key results

Benefit Programs Administration

The CRA administers 135 benefit and credit programs and services on behalf of the provinces and territories and the federal government. The CRA's expertise and systems lower the costs of administering programs and reduce the need for separate calculation and delivery systems at the federal and provincial or territorial levels. We provide flexible and efficient administration based on our ability to implement changes to meet our partners' needs, which in turn improves the service delivered to benefit recipients. For example, the Ontario government changed the Ontario Trillium benefit to let recipients choose a deferred, lump-sum payment and we changed our procedures and systems to enable this option.

Because clarity is important, the CRA is implementing a plain-language action plan to make our correspondence easier to understand. In 2014-2015, we began a complete review and redesign of the benefit notices we send to recipients and began user-testing the new notices designed to be delivered electronically or by traditional mail.

The CRA administers 135 benefit and credit programs

Validation

The CRA's role is to make sure correct payments are made to the right people as efficiently as possible. We review recipient information to make sure people receive the child and family benefits and credits they are entitled to. In some cases, we contact benefit recipients to confirm details like marital status, residency, and primary care of children, and can also ask individuals to provide documents to support their claim to benefits. If account information is incorrect, we update it and adjust recipient records and benefit payments accordingly.

In 2014-2015, we added automated confidence validity processes for provincial and territorial benefit and credit programs, and released a number of new validation and compliance reviews focused on marital status, residency, and primary care of children.

Renewing benefit infrastructure

We are updating the information technology support systems for the benefit programs we administer. The multi-year renewal project is improving system flexibility and enabling service improvements and efficiencies which will make sure we can continue to provide recipients with timely payments and information while allowing for future program growth.

Digital services

The CRA's secure digital services make it easier for benefit recipients to manage their account details, such as updating marital status and the number of children in their care, and to access information regarding their benefits. We introduced the following new features to improve the self-service digital options for benefit recipients during 2014-2015:

Automated Benefits Application service

The CRA's Automated Benefits Application (ABA) service allows participating provinces and territories to offer a quick, easy, and secure way to apply for all child benefit programs for newborns. Most programs use similar income-based eligibility criteria, contributing to a high degree of accuracy in benefit payments. The ABA service enables the CRA to automatically enrol applicants for federal and provincial benefits as soon as their child is born.

In 2014-2015, preparations continued towards the addition of Saskatchewan as the tenth province to use the ABA service. Their participation in ABA is targeted for January 2016. We also continue discussions with the three territories on their adoption of the service.

Direct deposit

We encourage benefit recipients to register for direct deposit because it is the fastest way for them to receive their benefit payments. It is also more efficient and cost-effective than traditional cheque payments.

Benefit payments issued by direct deposit
Benefit recipients using direct deposit 2014-2015 2013-2014
Universal child care benefit 75.8% 70.8%
Canada child tax benefit 82.8% 79.3%
Goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax credit 60.8% 55.7%

Key results

Budgetary financial information (dollars)
Program/
Subprogram
2014-15
Main Estimates
2014-15
Total Authorities
2014-15
Planned1
2014-15
Actual2
2014-15
Difference
(Planned minus Actual)
Benefit Programs 390,354,003 362,942,761 390,442,143 351,409,527 39,032,616
Benefit Enquiries no dataa no dataa 36,072,252 30,836,591 5,235,661
Benefit Programs Administration no dataa no dataa 108,369,891 105,811,737 2,558,154
Statutory Children's Special Allowance Payments no dataa no dataa 246,000,000 214,761,199 31,238,8013
Human resources (full-time equivalent)
Program/
Subprogram
2014-15
Planned
2014-15
Actual
2014-15
Difference
(Planned minus Actual)
Benefit Programs 1,568 1,253 315
Benefit Enquiries 519 293 2264
Benefit Programs Administration 1,049 960 895
Statutory Children's Special Allowance Payments no dataa no dataa no dataa

Performance measurement

Program
Benefit Programs
Expected Result Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Benefit recipients are provided timely and accurate eligibility determinations and payments, and have access to timely and accurate information Number of service standards targets met or mostly met relating to benefits administration and enquiries6 100% 100%
no dataa Payment accuracy after application processing and account maintenance transaction 98% 99.3%
Subprogram
Benefit Enquiries
Expected Result Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Benefit recipients have access to timely and accurate responses to their telephone enquiries Caller Accessibility – Percentage of Canada child tax benefit callers who succeed in reaching the CRA telephone service 80% 83%
no dataa Caller Accessibility – Percentage of GST/HST credit callers who succeed in reaching the CRA telephone service 80% 80%
no dataa Percentage of accurately updated internal reference materials for benefit services agents 100% 100%
Subprogram
Benefit Programs Administration
Expected Result Performance Indicator Target Actual Result
Benefit and credit eligibility determination and payment processing are timely and accurate Number of service standards targets met or mostly met relating to benefit and credit application or maintenance6 100% 100%
no dataa Percentage of Canada child tax benefit and GST/HST credit accounts targeted under the adjusted validation programs (validation and compliance) 50% 61.3%
no dataa Percentage of respondents satisfied with benefit application processing time 75% N/A7
 

Table Notes

1. Planned spending excludes severance payments, parental benefits, vacation credits, the one-time transition payment for implementing the pay-in-arrears model, and the carry-forward of unused funds from 2013-2014 under the CRA's two-year spending authority. This funding is received during the fiscal year and is included only in actual spending.

2. Modified cash basis, based on Parliamentary appropriations used. See Parliamentary appropriations for an explanation of how actual spending relates to results in the CRA Financial Statements – Agency Activities.

3. Decrease primarily due to payments made to a lower than planned number of recipients.

4. Decrease partially due to workload transfers to other programs during the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

5. Decrease partially due to underspending, with lapses used to offset shortfalls within the Assessment of Returns and Payment Processing program.

6. Details on our service standards are in Appendix B.

7. The number of respondents to the 2014 Canada child tax benefit first-time applicant survey was insufficient to produce valid results.

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