A report from the Auditor General of Canada has found the Canada Revenue Agency is blocking more than half the calls it receives from Canadian taxpayers. Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski says this is unacceptable.
“It is clearly unacceptable for the government to deliberately block Canadians who are seeking information and advice,” Stetski said. “CRA has a mandate to help taxpayers understand our complex and often bewildering tax forms, rules, and procedures; they can’t simply ignore those who call for help.”
The Auditor General’s report found the CRA blocks 54 per cent of callers. Callers may receive a busy signal, a message to go to the website or call back later. An additional 14 per cent of calls are rerouted to an automated attendant. Ten per cent of those callers hangup within a minute when they can’t find the information they want.
“Even more shocking is the news that when callers reach a live person at CRA, over 30 per cent of the information they are given is wrong,” Stetski said. “When you add up all the numbers, fewer than one in five Canadians who call CRA actually get accurate assistance.”
Stetski said his constituency staff in Cranbrook and Nelson are receiving numerous calls from people who are frustrated with the CRA.
The CRA responded to the Auditor General’s report saying there are plans to install a new phone system by the end of 2018. The CRA also said people prefer to get a busy signal over waiting in a queue. However, the Auditor General said the CRA was not able to back up this claim with research.
“I work with a variety of agencies and their Ministers every day,” Stetski said. “We are seeing the response times from a number of federal government departments getting worse but CRA is one of the most egregious.”