Canada Revenue Agency still subjecting taxpayers to 'humiliating, frustrating' benefit review process: report

Posted
September 28, 2018

The Canada Revenue Agency says it has made changes to how it conducts benefit reviews in the wake of CBC stories describing the problems faced by single parents in the process — and after the agency's own focus group study found the reviews to be "overwhelming," "frustrating" and "humiliating."

But Canadian taxpayers who spoke to the CBC about their current battles with the CRA say the changes the agency has made don't go far enough and have made no difference to their experiences so far.

"My accountant told me I should basically show up at a CRA office with all my documents and just start crying," said Roberta Bouchard, a single mother of two teens in Ottawa. She pointed out that there are no CRA client offices in Ottawa.

Bouchard has been battling the agency since last December to prove that she is separated from her husband and that her children live with her. Being able to prove those things would establish her eligibility for the Canada Child Benefit and determine how much she can receive.Every year, the CRA sends about 350,000 Canadians a letter letting them know their eligibility for benefits is being reviewed.

In the wake of CBC stories last December that led to the CRA apologizing to single parents who felt targeted by the agency over benefits, the agency commissioned a focus group to study the problem.

Pollara Strategic Insights interviewed 39 people in March who saw their benefits stopped by the CRA, then eventually reinstated. The study looked at the problems these people experienced with the benefits validation process.

The focus group's findings were just made public — and they echo what CBC reported in December.

Read more: Canada Revenue Agency still subjecting taxpayers to 'humiliating, frustrating' benefit review process: report