Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

November 6, 2008


opening remarks

Ms. Pamela Abbott, Regional Vice-President, Pacific Region, and Union Co-Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting and stated that she was looking forward to productive discussions on the agenda items.

Mr. George Arsenijevic, Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Benefit Services Branch, and Management Co-Chair, stated that he was very pleased to assume the role of Committee Co-Chair. He recognized that both parties were instrumental in making this forum a success, and would ensure that it continued to maintain its high standards.

automated benefits application

Management stated that the Automated Benefits Application (ABA) initiative would be an integrated Canada child benefits application registration option, presented to applicants during the birth registration process.

Management planned to initially implement this initiative in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, in the beginning of June 2009. The entire implementation was expected to take approximately 3 years; however, this depended on the take-up rate of each province. On the issue of human resources impacts, preliminary analysis indicated that approximately 16 full-time equivalents (FTE), at the SP-02 and SP-03 levels, and among all the Tax Centres (TC), would be affected over the 3 years. Management would share additional information once available.

EFILE AND 2D Bar Code Returns

Management informed the Union that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will allow returns for Deceased and Pre‑Bankrupt taxpayers to be filed electronically (EFILE) as of February 2009. These returns will also be filed with the inclusion of two‑dimensional bar codes on the first page.

Management expects this initiative will result in 118,000 fewer paper‑filed returns, resulting in a decrease of 7.9 determinate FTEs for a specific period at all TCs. Management will provide the Union with a breakdown of the impact on the affected work areas.

my payment – interac online

Management informed the Union that it would introduce the My Payment web-based payment-processing portal, which would be available through the CRA main web page. The Agency would seek to expand e-payments to a broader audience, especially to small businesses that did not have a corporate bank account.

This portal offered taxpayers an electronic payment method that would allow them to make multiple tax payments in one simple secure transaction. Taxpayers would be able to select the revenue lines, the number of payments for each payment type, enter the payment details and confirm the transaction. In response to the Union’s question, Management indicated that taxpayers would not need to be registered to My Account, and the system would not allow taxpayers to organize payment schedules.

Management stated that this initiative would eliminate the need for business owners to pay one day in advance to meet bank remitting requirements, reduce the number of misallocated payments, allow voucher suppression and reduce paper consumption. Furthermore, this initiative would advance the Agency’s service strategy by helping taxpayers meet their obligations, as well as protect Canada’s revenue base. It would also strengthen service, enhance the Agency’s efforts to address non-compliance, reinforce trust and maintain effective relationships with taxpayers.

Management expected My Payment to be operational by October 2009 for some GST payments. There would be no general publicity in the beginning, as the system would need to be tested in a live environment. Management expected a take-up rate between 1% and 5% in the first year, which would amount to an impact on approximately 5 to 23 FTEs at the SP-02 level, located at the Ottawa Technology Centre (OTC).

In response to the Union’s question, Management estimated that there were approximately 34 million payments made each year, and reassured the Union that the system would be secure.

gst/hst bar code initaitive

Management stated that the objective of this initiative was to implement two new filing options that would allow GST/HST registrants to complete and file their GST/HST returns using accounting software. In October 2009, registrants would be able to print a bar code for their GST34 return, and would be able to transmit their GST/HST data electronically to the CRA in April 2010. However, because of the time it would take for the accounting software companies to distribute these new functionalities to their clients, Management anticipated that the volume of these types of returns would be relatively low for the first year and gradually increase over the course of the following twelve months.

Management indicated that the implementation of these new filing options would have minimal impact on the current program workload processes. An analysis of the changes to these processes, and their associated human resources impacts, was under way, and would be shared with the Union as soon as it was available. Preliminary estimates indicated that there could be impacts on 16 FTEs; however, these FTEs would be reassigned to other work. Any staff that may be required to perform new functions would be provided the necessary training.

In response to the Union’s question, the bar codes would be available through CRA-certified software developed by the industry.

telecom expense and inventory management system

Management stated that the Telecom Expense and Inventory Management (TEIM) project was an integrated suite of tools that would create process efficiencies by automating the current paper-driven and manual telecom process.

The TEIM would create a centralized telecom inventory database of services and telephone lines allowing for better invoice reconciliation, budgetary planning and budgetary allocation. In addition, the TEIM would generate cost savings by aligning the CRA’s telecom ordering and invoice auditing processes with industry best practices.

Management estimated that there were approximately 140 telecom officers across the Agency. Since the duties to be migrated to the TEIM represented only a portion of the overall responsibilities undertaken by these individuals, Management did not anticipate any job loss as a result of this project. The Union would be provided updates as progress was made on this initiative.

In response to the Union’s question, Management indicated that the officers would not proceed to reconcile their telecom invoices electronically in the near future. This initiative would be the first step in that direction; however, it would be a long process because of the complexity involved.

written updates

For the record, the Committee agreed to remove the Arrange Direct Deposit, Ontario Child Benefit, Case Management System – Processing Review Program and Automated Memorandum Assessment written updates from the next meeting’s agenda.

CAS Sustainability Project

The Union asked if the rumors that Management planned to download compensation work to managers in the field were founded, and, if so, had the impacts on the compensation units been assessed. Furthermore, the Union wanted assurances that the new CAS system would be compatible with the systems employed by persons with disabilities, and that these employees would be consulted and their concerns alleviated.

Management agreed to look into this issue and get back to the Union.

Electronic Transfer of Accounting Data

The Union asked if the training had been completed. Management replied that, due to challenges with the release of the application, the pilot would be delayed until the new year. Therefore, the training had not been completed.

Mandatory Electronic Filing

The Union asked if there were any changes to the anticipated HR impacts. Management replied that it was too early to evaluate the final HR impacts since the change to the legislation was not expected to take place until spring 2009.

My Account for Individuals – Tax and Benefits

The Union requested that any acronyms be spelled out the first time they were used in a Written Update. Management agreed.

Quick Access for Individuals

Management stated that the title of this issue should be Quick Access for Individuals instead of Basic Access for Individuals.

Working Income Tax Benefit

The Union asked for assurances that the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) pamphlets to be distributed by Service Canada (SC) would only be shared with taxpayers for information purposes, and not for SC agents to address CRA questions. Management confirmed that only CRA employees were permitted to answer taxpayer inquiries.

In-Person Counter Redesign

The Union suggested that the last two sentences of the final paragraph from the In-Person Counter Redesign written update be removed. Management agreed.

Trust Examination Audit System

The Union asked Management whether the rumours about pilot sites being identified, were true. Management confirmed that they had not yet been identified as the initiative had been delayed: a database needed to be added to gather the results of trust examinations in order to move to a more risk based intelligence approach. Consequently, Management was required to conduct a privacy-impact assessment, before moving forward. The Union agreed to provide Management with a copy of the document that provided the misinformation about the pilot sites.

Automated Memorandum Assessment

The Union stated that the French translation of the title should be corrected to Cotisation pour memoire automatisée. Management agreed.

closing remarks

The Union thanked Management for the meeting, and was looking forward to the next meeting in May 2009.

Management indicated that the meeting had been productive and expected this to continue in the future.

Original signed by

Original signed by

George Arsenijevic
Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Benefit Services Branch
Canada Revenue Agency

Betty Bannon
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

February 23, 2009

February 13, 2009