PACP Committee News Release
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Standing Committee on Public Accounts
Comité permanent des comptes publics
For immediate release
Government of Canada Did Not Manage Its Call Centres Properly
Ottawa, June 19, 2019 -
Despite advances in digital communication platforms, many Canadians continue to use the telephone to interact with the Government of Canada. However, its call centres were not focused on clients when making decisions about services and how they set service standards, and callers had difficulty getting through to agents, according to a report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Accounts (the Committee) presented today by the Honorable Kevin Sorenson, Chair of the Committee.
In the spring of 2019, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) released a performance audit whose purpose was to determine whether Employment and Social Development Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, and Veterans Affairs Canada provided clients with accessible and timely call centre services. It also focused on whether the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and Shared Services Canada provided a strategy and support to suitably enable such services.
The audit found that instead of giving callers the option to wait to speak with an agent, the Employment and Social Development Canada call centres for Employment Insurance and for the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security sent millions of calls back to the automated system or told callers to go to the website or to call back later. The call centre at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada also sent millions of callers back to the automated system or told them to visit its website; those who managed to get through to an agent had to wait 30 minutes or longer. And although Veterans Affairs Canada allowed all callers to wait for an agent, over a million callers gave up waiting and hung up.
Lastly, the OAG found that Shared Services Canada and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat did not provide the support needed to modernize and improve call centre services.
As part of its report on this audit, the Committee has made six recommendations to ensure that the federal government addresses these matters, to help Canadians access the services they want and deserve.
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