Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
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
CPC (QC)
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?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Hamilton, do you realize that what you just said is an insult to the 84% of people who call and do not get the service to which they are entitled and which they pay for?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Mr. Hamilton, what I find very disappointing is the way you are talking about this as though it were a question of making a few improvements. We are talking about an 84% failure rate. What is needed here is not an improvement: you need to completely review the structure and, above all, the culture.
How have you been able to keep your job with an 84% failure rate?
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
That is your answer but it is unacceptable to Canadians.
What was done was more than a survey: it was demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that things are not working. You say that the technology has to be improved. That is not true. The role of technology is to support effectiveness; it is not the source of the problems. In the current culture, you are not worried about this. When you say that it is just a survey question and all that is needed is improvement, it is as though you are burying your head in the sand. I am sorry to have to be so harsh, Mr. Hamilton, but your answers are not acceptable.
View Gérard Deltell Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In your introduction earlier, you said something that was right on the mark. In fact, I am convinced that the 337 other members of the House of Commons share your opinion.
We have received a lot of calls from Canadians who were outraged by this. These people are not millionaires or people who hire an accountant to fill out their tax return. They are ordinary citizens with a modest income. In most cases, they are seniors. Eight times out of ten, or 84% of the time, these people were not able to talk to an agent or, even worse, got incorrect information.
Did these people pay too much tax or not enough? That is the question, and it is obviously the first one that comes to mind for them.
Did they pay too much tax as a result of the incorrect information they were given?
Mr. Hamilton, what recourse do these people have?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
There is only one perspective that matters here. That is the perspective of the people we're serving. Those are the people who are calling in. Those are the callers. From the callers' perspective, it's a 36% rate. From your department's perspective, it's a 90% rate. That is a huge variance. That actually is the best example of the culture issues that are so obviously existing. I don't think there's a member around this table right now who is thinking, “Yeah, we don't really have culture issues; we need a little bit more transparency and maybe we need to train some people better and get some better technology, and CRA is off to the races”.
I don't think that is a thing. That's the message I'm hearing, and I don't think that's a thing that exists around this table. I think you need to go back. I want to know who came up with the system to say that over half the callers aren't actually callers. I want to know who came out with these results, because they just don't make sense.
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
I know this wasn't necessarily the direct focus of the report, but have we seen circumstances when incorrect information was given out by the federal government and the federal government then changed the amount they're saying is owed, based on the information they gave out originally, or did we just not get there?
View Kevin Sorenson Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you, Mr. Nuttall. You have 10 seconds, but I'll take it.
Did you ever ask CRA, when you were given false information, if you could have that answer in writing? I've been told by constituents—and it's probably happened to us—that when you're on the phone after finally getting through, after being blocked so many times, when you get the information, all you have is really your word against somebody else's, because it's on the phone.
Would you ever ask if you could have that answer in an email or in writing?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I wanted to continue with the CRA audit. After determining a 30% inaccuracy rate in the information provided by persons working for the CRA, your report goes into the information that's provided by CRA in their auditing of their own activities, whether it's inaccuracy—their 6% rate versus your 30%—or the number of calls, because they don't include the blocked calls or calls that don't reach somebody in that process.
You recommend training. You recommend better services in tracking what's going on at the CRA. What do you recommend as a follow-up time period? To go from a 30% inaccuracy rate, what would be a good timeline for us to look at this and to ask for more information on changes that hopefully won't be needed?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
Where is the issue? In your opinion, is this a top-down issue at this point? Is this strictly a training issue, whether it's on the quality assurance side or the people who are facing the client?
View Alexander Nuttall Profile
CPC (ON)
With all that said, if your business is taxation and somebody asks you when the interest is going to be charged on taxes owing, this is basically almost as easy a question as you can get. It amazes me that we need a screen to do that. How is it that we don't have training in place to show these people? This is basic.
If somebody called me when I was a banker and asked, “Alex, when does the interest start accruing?”, I knew the answer to that every single time—and it's different on every single deal—because I just know my business. How do our employees not know their business when it comes to everybody in the country having the same answer?
View Joël Godin Profile
CPC (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us this morning. Your being here today helps us have confidence in VIA Rail. As you no doubt know, our job as members of this parliamentary committee is to ensure the best possible investment and use of taxpayers' money.
With that in mind, I want to read you an excerpt from the Auditor General's report.
…VIA has received from the government only short-term approval of its funding and five-year corporate plan, and often late in the Corporation's fiscal year. In this context, VIA could not fulfil its mandate as economically, efficiently, and effectively as desired. The significant deficiency could also compromise the Corporation's medium- and long-term viability.
I want to focus on that last statement, “The significant deficiency could also compromise the Corporation's medium- and long-term viability.”
Our duty, as parliamentarians, is to ask tough questions. We are responsible for taxpayers' money, and you have a mandate to carry out. And now we have this report from the Auditor General.
Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano, granted, you are new to the job and you have implemented measures, but do you think the existing measures, in addition to the ones your team will introduce and put in place, are enough to ensure VIA Rail's medium- and long-term viability?
View Joël Godin Profile
CPC (QC)
Okay.
It's not VIA's role, but as members of Parliament, how can we ensure services are provided to that population?
You are an integral part of the problem and solution. I am thinking out loud. I don't know whether you or the officials from the Office of the Auditor General can answer me. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to get a full answer. Do you have possible solutions for this type of situation?
I mentioned the Gaspé, but the problem also exists in western and northern Canada. The government is responsible for ensuring that one of its service providers, in this case VIA Rail, fulfills its mandate. How can this be resolved?
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