Priaire MPs not receiving response from CRA

Open letter to Minister Lebouthillier

22 August 2016

 

Honourable Diane Lebouthillier

Minister of National Revenue

House of Commons

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

 

Dear Minister,

 

I am writing to bring to your personal attention an important issue about the current situation for Prairie Members of Parliament with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) MP office inquiries. 

 

There is a serious backlog that I am extremely concerned about because when my constituents come to my MP office with CRA issues, my MP office staff cannot provide these constituents with CRA responses in a timely manner. 

 

As you will know, the three Prairie Provinces’ (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) MP  inquiries are managed through the CRA Problem Resolution Office in Winnipeg, Manitoba.   Over the 2016 summer months, my constituency assistant (casework) has seen the inquiry time go from a two-day turn-around to over a month, with none of my constituents’ CRA issues being answered or resolved.   This is a very frustrating situation especially for my constituents and staff. 

 

Last week, my constituency assistant (casework) asked a CRA staff member why there was such a long delay for MP fax inquires.  The following information is what the CRA Problem Resolution Office staff in Winnipeg cited:

 

  • All public toll free calls are being routed to the CRA Problem Resolution office, and there is now a 3 day wait to CRA to respond to messages left because the public toll-free CRA phone inquiry lines are extremely busy with public inquiry calls.
  • There is an electronic self-priority which many people (i.e. seniors and people without access to computers) are unable to use.
  • New MP fax inquiries have not been looked at for over a month.
  • CRA Problem Resolution Office in Winnipeg is not meeting CRA’s service criteria/standard and had asked the Federal Government for more funding for extra summer staffing to manage inquiries during this peak summer inquiry period.  This request was turned down because the Federal government felt there was no need for extra summer staff, and believe that the existing CRA staff could manage all inquiries in a timely manner.
  • The Western Provinces (MB/SK/AB) have 3 people assigned to deal with MP fax inquiries.
  • July and August are the peak period for CRA inquires and is also a time when a majority of CRA permanent full-time staff take their holidays.
  • The CRA Problem Resolution Office in Winnipeg is currently in crisis due to not having enough summer staff to manage the extremely high number of public and MP CRA inquires during this peak inquiry period.   Therefore all new MP office fax inquiries have not even been touched by CRA staff for the last month or more.

 

Minister, this state of affairs is not acceptable. I would respectfully request that you, as the Minister of Revenue, and responsible for the CRA and its operations,  fully review the situation and provide a speedy resolution for this backlog of CRA MP fax inquiries. 

 

Experienced constituency staff  have informed me that this is not the first summer that this has happened. The Winnipeg CRA Problem Resolution Centre experienced the same inquiry backlog issues over the summer of 2015, which may indicate that there is a deeper systemic issue.

I trust that you will give this situation the immediate attention it deserves.

 

Sincerely,

Sheri Benson, Member of Parliament

Saskatoon West

 

cc:  Pierre-Luc Dusseault, MP, NDP Critic for National Revenue

       Linda Duncan, MP, Edmonton-Strathcona

       Daniel Blaikie, MP, Elmwood-Transcona

       Erin Weir, MP, Regina-Lewvan

       Georgina Jolibois, MP, Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

       Niki Ashton, MP, Churchill-Keewatinook-Aski