FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2005
Canada Revenue Agency discouraging walk-in business
OTTAWA - The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) says it has a plan to improve its client service to Canadians. The problem is they think they can do it by reducing the number of staff who actually provide the service.
Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) National President Nycole Turmel says that up to now the Revenue Agency has been trying to reduce the availability of service. “Our members have been working hard at raising public awareness about CRA’s plans announced earlier this year to close its cash counters and to eliminate walk-in service at its client service counters. Canadians responded and CRA has decided to keep the cash counters open.”
CRA is now focusing on moving away from walk-in service to service by appointment. While recognizing that walk-in services are only available to Canadians in cities with Tax Service Offices, the move is making service less and less convenient for taxpayers.
CRA is carrying out some pilot projects in January to see how their plans for assisted self-service and by appointment service will work,” says Betty Bannon, National President of PSAC’s Union of Taxation Employees’ component. “But before the pilots even start, they’ve announced they’re reducing the number of staff in client services by over one-third. Over one hundred positions will be affected.”
“CRA’s idea of service is to have a kiosk in CRA offices and have client service agents show the public how to use them,” says Bannon. “At the same time, they’re reducing the number of agents who will provide this service and handle appointments.”
Other CRA service improvement plans include making the many taxpayers who visit their offices to obtain statement of earnings printouts and other information wait to receive the printouts. CRA will continue to take walk-in requests but instead of providing the information on the spot, will put it in the mail. Computer terminals in the kiosks at CRA locations aren’t being equiped with printers so taxpayers without access to work or personal computers will just have to wait.
Bannon says that according to CRA figures, the Agency has been successful in converting Canadians to access their services on the internet and on the phone. “Walk-in traffic only accounts for 4% of the service provided. I question how much farther it can be reduced.”
“The Revenue Agency should be bending over backwards to provide Canadians with the information they need and to make tax payments as convenient as possible,” says Bannon. “Any savings from reducing client services will likely be offset by the need to increase collection staff.”
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For information: Betty Bannon, UTE National President, (613) 266-5956 (cell)
Louise Laporte, PSAC Communications (613) 560-4287 or (613) 558-4975 (cell)