Interventions in Committee
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View David Christopherson Profile
That's good. I'll just weave in my message and keep saying how wonderful you are, because you understand how bad it is that the government's not giving the Auditor General enough money to do his job. That's why I'm so pleased to see.... No, I won't do that.
I thank you, Chair.
Secretary, what troubled me, on page 16, 1.62 stood out. “We found that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat developed a government-wide service strategy in 2017: the Government of Canada Clients First Service Strategy.” That sounds great. “The strategy prioritized providing services online but did not include call centres or mention the government-wide modernization of call centres, despite the fact that they continue to be an important way for clients to get information.”
That number is 25%, a quarter of all Canadians use that. How on earth did you get to the point where you were planning contact for services for Canadians, and never gave a thought to the phone? Twenty-five per cent of Canadians.... Given the fact that Michael Ferguson's mantra was, again, “Do service well”, don't measure how well you move paper or a message from one desk to another. Measure the outcome for citizens and how they are, or are not, receiving the services they're entitled to.
How could something this obvious—a quarter of all Canadians—be overlooked in this grand strategy?
View David Christopherson Profile
People are paid good money to be planners. The whole idea is that they're supposed to think these things through. I understand if it was a small percentage, but a quarter of all Canadians? That's really disheartening. It's further disheartening that you don't seem to be able to acknowledge when anything is wrong. All you want to do is talk about how wonderful things are. I've told deputies before, don't come in here and be defensive. Do what the Auditor General did and approach the criticism that way. If it's wrong, say so, admit it, acknowledge you failed, and then say what you're going to do about it.
Don't spin. That's our job.
Voices: Oh, oh!
View Blake Richards Profile
Thank you. Unfortunately, I hear those types of examples all too often. Those are the types of things that we obviously need to be looking at to try to address with regulatory compliance.
Mr. Achen, regarding the CRA, you raised an issue that is also one I hear so frequently. You mentioned, and I actually hadn't heard this statistic before, that we have five times the number of agents per capita in the CRA than does the IRS. I've heard that expressed in different ways before, about the thousands and thousands of agents that we have at CRA, yet when you make a phone call, you can never get any one of them on the phone. People always wonder how the heck it is possible, with all those people there, that you can't even get someone on the phone. Then they say, if you ever do get someone on the phone, you might talk to four different agents and get six or eight different opinions, so that's obviously a source of frustration.
I wonder if you might speak to the opportunity that's lost for our businesses, particularly our small businesses, when they're dealing with these types of compliance burdens with the CRA. Obviously the complicated nature of the tax code and the fact that even the CRA agents can't really give you a proper interpretation of it, what do those effects mean for our small businesses in terms of lost opportunity to be able to be competitive and to be able to grow their businesses, mentor employees and so on?
View Michelle Rempel Profile
Thank you.
I have a limited amount of time. Specifically, from an opportunity cost perspective, the government is investing—spending—$51 million worth of tax dollars and assuming oversight and, ostensibly, liability related to an arm's-length profession that exists to interpret difficulties in an existing government system.
I'm wondering if there was any opportunity cost analysis done to apply that $51 million to ease service delivery specifically related to this particular expenditure?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
Thank you very much.
We talked about the fact that senior women don't have a great deal of access in terms of programming. One of the things that bothered me—I was a seniors critic and a veterans critic—was that government is using technology more and more. They're putting things online and the answer to someone who needs help is “Well, it's online”. To someone who is not literate in terms of that, that doesn't help.
We have all of these 1-800 numbers, and if you sit there for 45 minutes listening to the recording, it finally drops off and you have to start all over again. I think this lack of human contact is problematic. Is there a role for the federal government in terms of re-establishing that human face to programs, the things that people need, so that they can access them as they did in the past?
View Irene Mathyssen Profile
How widespread is that kind of approach? You talked about it in Quebec, but does anyone know if it's something that is utilized in the other provinces and territories?
View Anne Minh-Thu Quach Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'm going to share my speaking time with my colleague who has just arrived.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
My first questions will be for Mr. Johnson and Mr. Dupuis.
You spoke a lot about access to French-language services, especially in airports. How important is it to also have access to legal services in French? Although Quebec is a francophone province, after the arrival of 25,000 irregular migrants in 2017, there weren't enough French-language legal services and health care. There was a particular lack of francization and interpretation services. Even in Quebec we need such services.
What is the situation in your area?
View Brian Masse Profile
View Brian Masse Profile
2018-04-17 11:58
Thank you, Madam Chair. One of the things I want to address is Amazon.
With regard to postal delivery services, Canada Post has carved out a very good strategy by going to markets that might not have been affordable, such as smaller communities, but still doing so because of the principles of Canada Post and an operating philosophy for Canadians that's different from just the bottom line.
The interesting aspect you have is that Amazon is in competition for massive public subsidization, whether it be in the United States or Canada right now, and it is going to be one of your major competitors. Are there any thoughts in terms of what the business plan response is going to be from Canada Post if Amazon receives massive public subsidization?
Clearly, whether it's a facility located in Canada or the United States, there seems to be municipal, provincial or state, and maybe perhaps even, on the U.S. side, federal allocation of dollars to get their operations going for everything from road infrastructure to technology, as well as training dollars. Has there been any thought about that situation? Your competitor is going to receive quite a serious, significant contribution, most likely from the public purse.
View Gord Johns Profile
There was $42.8 million announced in the budget for service delivery. There are a couple of things. First, we know there are 29,000 vets—according to a report in November that came through the media—waiting for disability claims to be processed. That was an increase of 50% over eight months prior.
Can you identify where that $42.8 million is going? Will it be going to some of this outreach, and also to the backlog? Is that the right amount to get that backlog from 29,000 to zero, because I think we all agree that it needs to be at zero?
View Robert Kitchen Profile
This committee, over the years that I've been involved with it, has looked at issues of service delivery. A couple of comments that we've made have been dealing with the issue of being provided information from the moment you sign up and enlist. As you progress, that information is continually given to you as to what you can obtain if certain things should happen. As you progress, you continually learn that. Some of the recommendations that we've made in the past were to do with such information providing that service.
Do you see that as a value or do you see that as a hindrance?
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
So, there are some significant issues there for some folks, obviously, as they're transitioning.
I have a quick question, too, with regard to making things better for them so they don't come to the point where you're needing to help them.
We heard testimony earlier from the Veterans Transition Network. You're probably familiar with the services they provide.
How important do you think it would be to have those kinds of services actually be the priority as our members are looking at possibly facing the decision to no longer be part of their service at an earlier time?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
Mr. Hamilton, your service failed to deliver 84% of the time. It failed 84% of the time.
You say you are not surprised, but what did you do not to be surprised? How can it be that you are not surprised that your service did not work 84% of the time?
That is unacceptable, sir.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
Okay, we can all improve in life, we get that.
Yet with an 84% failure rate, you do not need to improve; you need to shake things up or else we have to start over from scratch. Come on, it is not a question of improving. You need a change in course and a kick in the backside to get things working properly.
Mr. Hamilton, if you wanted to hire someone and they got 16% on their test, would you hire them?
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