Technological Change Committee

Minutes of the Technological Change Sub-Committee Meeting

May 11, 2007

BETWEEN THE CANADA REVENUE AGENCY AND THE UNION OF TAXATION EMPLOYEES

OPENING REMARKS

Ms. Barbara Slater, Assistant Commissioner, Assessment and Benefit Services Branch and Management Co-Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting.  Management was encouraged to see that more Branches were submitting requests to appear before the Technological Change Sub-Committee.

Mrs. Pamela Abbott, the new Union Co-Chair, was pleased to be handling the Technological Change portfolio on behalf of UTE and stated that she had been looking forward to her first meeting.  She also thanked Management for accommodating her schedule.

E-RESOURCING

A new electronic staffing service called e-resourcing, formerly known as the Careers website, would first be piloted, and then launched nationally in the fall 2007.  As part of this initiative, the staffing process would be standardized, therefore accelerating the process and making it more transparent.  The functionality associated with this initiative included the management of job notices, applications, online screenings and offers.  Issues such as the access to restricted information on applicants and security measures still needed to be addressed. 

The projected contract award was expected to be completed by the end of May 2007.  Once that happened, the various assessments would be undertaken and a detailed project plan would be developed.

A reduction in regional funding for HR administrative support was incurred as a result of a program review exercise conducted several years ago.  The affected employees had been identified and advised of the situation through written correspondence.  Funding continued to be provided to regions on a temporary basis to support the activities that would no longer be required once e-resourcing had been implemented nationally.

The Union believed that an “electronic letter of offer” functionality was already available through the Manager Self-Service portal (MSS), and asked if there was a link between the two.  Management indicated that MSS did not have that functionality; however, it would look into the question and provide clarification on the matter.

ONTARIO CHILD BENEFIT

Management advised that the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) that was announced in the recent Ontario budget would be administered by the CRA on behalf of the Province.  The OCB would use the CRA’s existing CCTB System platform; that is, children registered for the CCTB would be automatically considered for the OCB if their families resided in Ontario as of July 1, 2007.

The OCB would be delivered in two phases.  The first phase would be a one-time benefit of up to $250 per child in July 2007 for lower-income families in the province of Ontario.  The second phase would be a monthly child benefit fully harmonized with the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB), and was scheduled to begin in July 2008. 

The OCB payments for July 2007 would be issued as a standalone cheque with no direct deposit available, and a dedicated 1-800 number would be used to process enquiries for Phase I.  As the OCB payments for Phase II would be integrated with the CCTB payments, the enquiries program would be harmonized with the existing CCTB enquiries service. 

Management noted that negotiations with the Province for the resources required to process the enquiries for Phase I of the OCB program were underway.  Management anticipated that the OCB Enquiries Program would be delivered through the Ontario Region T1 and Benefit Call Centres.  Training would be provided accordingly. 

The Union asked if more resources would be allocated to the call sites, given the anticipated increase in the workload.  Management indicated that additional resources would be provided in the call centres, based on the work volumes, which were not yet known.  Management estimated that 40% of the total population of Ontario would benefit from the OCB.

WORKING INCOME TAX BENEFIT

The 2007 Federal Budget introduced a Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB) that would provide a refundable tax credit of $500 for eligible low income Canadians, and $1000 for eligible low-income families starting in the 2007 taxation year.  There would be an additional WITB supplement for persons with disabilities, which would be based on the existing Disability Tax Benefit (DTB).

A WITB prepayment prescribed application form would be available for taxpayers wishing to receive WITB prepayments, equal to 50% of the estimated WITB tax credit for the applicable taxation year.  Taxpayers needed to submit the form on a yearly basis.

The Benefit Programs Directorate (BPD) would be responsible for processing the WITB prepayment applications in the tax centres starting in the 2008 taxation year.  Additional resources would be needed in the TCs to process the applications.  However, as the program parameters had yet to be finalized, the required human resources were still unknown.  Management would keep the Union informed, as more information became available.

The Union asked if the application forms would be available electronically.  Management stated that it would look into the feasibility of making the form available through the Internet; however, it did not expect the take-up rate of electronic applications to be very high for this initiative.  

CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR PROCESSING REVIEW PROGRAM

The CRA would be implementing a new Case Management System (CMS) for its T1 Processing Review Program.  This program entailed post-assessment reviews of various T1 related credits and deductions, conducted annually in all of the Tax Centres.

This CMS would allow Tax Centres to electronically create and maintain a complete inventory of their Processing Review files that could easily be assigned and reassigned to employees.  It would also allow employees to view a taxpayer’s complete history and facilitate better file tracking for employees.

Overall, the new Case Management System would result in efficiencies, and improved human resources planning by providing field office managers with a single electronic system to plan, manage and report on their work

The Case Management System would be piloted in the Shawinigan-Sud and Winnipeg Tax Centres during 2007/08.  Management would then be in a position to determine whether there would be any HR impacts.  Full implementation in all other Tax Centres was currently planned for 2008/09.  Management had no plans at this time to reduce funding for the Processing Review program. 

WRITTEN UPDATES

For the record, the Committee agreed to remove the Microfilm Equipment Replacement written update from the next meeting’s agenda. 

My Account for Individuals – Tax and Benefits

The Union noted that, in the last minutes, Management had committed to look into the login gaps reported between the May 2006 and November 2006 updates.  Management replied that it would provide a multi-year chart of the log-ins tracked with as much analysis as possible.  Management emphasized that the system tracked log-ins, not the number of people who logged into the systems.

T1 2D Bar Code

The Union asked to be provided with the number of people affected rather than FTE's, as well as a breakdown of determinate vs. indeterminate employees.  UTE also asked for the number of determinate employees that had not been rehired as a result of this initiative.  Management would be able to provide an estimate of the number of employees affected at the Tax Centre; however, it would be very difficult to determine the exact number of determinate employees that had not been rehired.  The Union stated that it would be satisfied with an estimate. 

GST/HST Redesign

The Union reiterated its request to be provided with the number of affected employees, broken down by determinate and indeterminate status.  Management stated that it was still in the process of assessing the actual monetary impacts of the latest release.  Therefore, it would be some time before the actual number of affected employees would be known.  Management would provide information on the impacts as it becomes available.

End User Application Development Macro Releases

The Union asked when the rollout of the second view was expected.  Management replied that the rollout for the T1 Taxpayer View Macro would begin by early June in the six Accounts Receivable pool sites.  Management agreed to provide the Union with the name of the sites.  However, before releasing these macros, Management required authorization from the Information Technology (IT) Branch in order to ensure that the macros were secure and had been subjected to IT stress tests.

The Union pointed out that the Written Updates indicated that the Non-filer Taxpayer View Mainframe Macro Application would be piloted in the summer, but that Management had stated that some employees were already using the macro.  Management clarified that a couple of users were testing the macro at the moment, but it would be piloted more widely in the summer.  Management also clarified the term ‘pilot’ as it applied to macros, and stated that these were not considered pilot projects. 

Management stated that no jobs would be lost as a result of these releases.

Pre-Authorized Payment Plan on Internet

The Union stated that, while the Written Updates indicated that there would be no workforce impacts from this initiative, UTE asked if any employees in the T1 arrears and the Pre-Authorized Debit on Internet (iPAD) working at the cash counters had been indirectly affected by this initiative.  Management replied that there had been no impacts on employees, as it was a change from post-dated cheques to using electronic means.  For the iPAD, Management clarified that it was a change from sending post-dated cheques to using electronic means of payment.

Payment Modernization

The Union asked for clarification on the total number of FTE’s and the number of employees it represented, as well as the breakdown of determinate and indeterminate employees.  Management stated that there were a total of 18 FTEs from two different initiatives, the Post-Dated Cheque Redesign and the Financial Institution Remittance, which have been grouped together.  Furthermore, those 18 FTEs should translate into 18 employees across the country; however, Management would confirm the numbers.

Management went on to note that, in the future, employees would work with scanned images of post-dated cheques and Financial Institution Remittance vouchers instead of hard copies, as in the past.  Eventually, financial institutions would deal with scanned images of cheques for clearing purposes.  Management was currently waiting for the financial institutions to make a firm commitment to timeframes for cheque truncation before drafting timelines for CRA implementation. 

CLOSING REMARKS

The Union asked to receive the Written Updates earlier in the process to allow for more preparation time.  Management agreed. 

The Union also asked if the minutes of the meetings could be provided sooner.  Management replied that it would endeavour to do so.

The Union appreciated the good work conducted during the meeting and thanked Management for taking the time to meet with them. 

Management also thanked all the participants for the fine work that was accomplished during and in between the meetings.  The ongoing dialogue and consultation with the Union on the various issues had resulted in more Written Updates and fewer verbal agenda items.  This provided the Committee with the opportunity to focus on the more complex issues at the meeting.

Original signed by

Original signed by

Barbara J. Slater
Assistant Commissioner
Assessment and Benefit Services Branch
Canada Revenue Agency

Betty Bannon
National President
Union of Taxation Employees

Date:  July 25, 2007

Date:  July 23, 2007