He's quite a taskmaster, this man from Hamilton.
Mr. Ferguson, on page 20 of your report, at exhibit 2.3, you have a table. I would encourage the folks from Veterans Affairs Canada to follow along, because the question will go to them subsequent to this.
You use the example of a Canadian veteran, just retired, who receives Canada pension plan benefits. During his military service, he was injured and he's eligible for disability benefits, which would come out of somewhere else. The veteran also wants to interact with the Government of Canada online to manage his benefits and also his taxes—that's Mr. Bennett at CRA—so he decides to access Service Canada's website.
Sir, you have a lovely chart here.
I freely admit to you, Mr. Bennett, that I once tried to go on your website, and as soon as you said, “I'll get back to you in five or ten days”, I said, “Thank you very much, but no thank you.” I didn't bother. The online password just takes far too long, in my view, to send through the mail to me after all the checks that you actually want from me, which clearly probably only I would know and that you actually asked for. There's good security, by the way, and I don't have a problem with that. The issue is that I'm not interested in your sending it to me in the mail—that's me personally—so I never did open it. It probably died on the Internet somewhere.
Mr. Ferguson, you've laid this thing out. Clearly, as we follow it through—and for the cameras, for the folks at home who don't have this in front of them—you literally ended up doing the same thing over and over again, except there are minor pieces. For instance, you sign in, or you use your GCKey, or you go to proof of identity, employment insurance, you need the access code, which gives you a four-digit number.
We can see that with My VAC it's actually quicker, because there is a certain number and I get in. I have to wait for you to send me something to get in and I have to wait for Mr. Bennett to send me something to get in, whereas My VAC lets me in as long as I have the proper security code. It's wonderful, actually. I think the other two groups ought to look at what you do, since you're giving benefits as well.
Actually, I agree with Mr. Woodsworth. No offence, Mr. Bennett, but more often than not, you usually are taking more than you are giving back, but that's your job and that's okay.
I'm getting benefits from EI, CPP, or OAS, etc. How come I can get benefits as a veteran from them, but I can't get them from you? That's an open question. I'll leave that for you folks to take back and think about while I wait 10 days for my thing that I'm never going to wait for, because I'm not going to ever end the thing....
Thank you, Mr. Ferguson, for the walk-through of what should be easy in life: to use a computer. I'm not technically in the dark. Yes, I'm a middle-age guy who has come to computers late in life, but I'm not a person who can't manage it. To be perfectly frank, if I were a vet and you were asking me to dance the dance, I'd be looking to call 1-800....
This is where I'm going back to you, Ms. Giliberti, about your 1-800 number. Does your system still function the way it does—and hopefully not for vets—for EI? If I get online and have a question, I go in the queue and wait. When it times out, the electronic voice says goodbye and hangs up. It never gives me a number that says I've contacted you. It never takes my number and says, like Sears Canada used to do, “If you wish to remain in the queue but not on the line, we'll call you.”
How is it the functionality of a department as large as yours is such that your electronic voice tells me goodbye? Then, when I say that I've called you, everyone says they don't have a record. Well, of course you don't. You hung up on me. If you hang up on me enough times, how many times am I going to call you back?
I look at both of you, Ms. Bastien and Ms. Giliberti. How do we integrate a service for folks at a moment when they're being asked to use electronic services and make it functional in a humane way so that it will function for them? I throw it open to either one of you. You can decide which one wants to answer it first.