MAY 6, 2021 

Opening Remarks 

The President, AFS Group, welcomed everyone to the meeting. He introduced and welcomed  Dan Quinn, the new AFS Headquarters Representative, to his first AFS National Union  Management Consultation Committee Meeting (NUMCC). He expressed his best wishes for  former Deputy Commissioner Christine Donoghue in her new assignment as the Chief Human  Resources Officer at the Treasury Board Secretariat. He commented that challenging times  continue for the Agency and AFS Members as they deal with the challenges and changes  brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. He noted that while some work remains to be  done, progress had been made in setting up safe and productive home offices. He commented  that AFS members had not been treated equally across the Agency as members in the regions had been unable to carry over vacation credits in excess of 262.5 hours that they had been  unable to use due to the pandemic. He noted that the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA” or “the  Agency”) was the only federal department or agency not to recognize the pandemic as a reason  to provide more flexibility to carry over excess vacation credits. He remarked that AFS members  continue to keep CRA programs running, to support critical income support measures, and to  build and protect Canada’s income tax processing infrastructure. He noted that this had been  accomplished while AFS members had been defending the Agency and Canadians from  ongoing cyber attacks of an unprecedented scale. He said that we must leverage our pandemic  experiences in order to build an Agency with a stronger commitment to flexible work  arrangements and with a stable workforce of professional AFS members. He remarked that the  AFS Group was looking forward to this first NUMCC meeting of the year.  

The Commissioner began his comments by stating that it had been an extraordinary year with  incredible accomplishments for the Agency, and that it had been done together. He said that it  had been the team spirit among the whole Agency—employees, the management team, and the  unions—that had allowed the CRA to succeed, and that it could not have been done without that  kind of cooperation. He remarked that it was his proudest moment as a public servant in a  career that had had many proud moments. He noted that although the pandemic was still with  us, the demands of work continue, they continue to change, and they remain sensitive as the  Agency proceeds with collection and compliance activities in a still-fragile economy. He spoke  about the changed work environment and working remotely, and noted the significant  challenges it had placed on employees and managers. He talked about challenges from a  mental health perspective as everyone deals with changes to their work environments and their  home environments. He stressed the importance of the Agency being conscious of those mental  health challenges, looking out for them, and recognizing and supporting people who need it.  

The Commissioner commented on the recent 2021 Federal Budget, and said that it was good  news for the Agency. The Agency received a lot of funding to carry out its activities, and also got  new responsibilities in the form of new taxes and new programs. He noted that some legislative  changes would help the Agency do its work. He said that everyone would have to work together to accomplish the work set out in the budget, and that there would be an intense focus on  implementation and achieving what is expected from the Agency. He said he had no doubt that  the Agency would succeed.  

The Commissioner spoke about Agency 2030, and said that the CRA was looking ahead to  what the Agency should look like in 5-10 years. He noted that there had been discussion on  remote and virtual work, and different ways for the Agency to organize itself. He said that the  Agency needs to think through what is best for employees and the Agency. He noted that there  are choices now, and that the Agency can do things it was not sure it could do a year ago. He  commented that choices can be difficult, and noted that the Agency needs to be thoughtful in its  approach and to communicate along the way. He said it was an exciting time to work together to  plot out a really good future for the Agency as well as its employees and the union’s members.  

He concluded his remarks by congratulating former Deputy Commissioner Christine Donoghue on her appointment as the Chief Human Resources Officer at the Treasury Board Secretariat. He said that she had accomplished great things at the Agency, and had supported its People  First philosophy, digitization, and many other important files. He wished her all the best in her  new role.  

1. Workplace of the Future 

The Assistant Commissioner, Finance and Administration Branch (AC, FAB), provided an  update on the CRA’s Workplace of the Future. She began by stating that the health and safety  of CRA employees continues to be a top priority; CRA continues to ensure employees who must  report on-site are protected through the application of national worksite and re-entry protocols.  She noted that COVID-19 forced the CRA to quickly adjust its ways of working, and that many  of the changes seen would outlive the pandemic. The AC, FAB, stated that when looking to the  future, the physical and mental well-being of employees is a key consideration in planning. She  advised that since the outset of the pandemic, the CRA had actively been gathering employee  feedback through the use of regular employee surveys. The feedback received indicates that  more than 80% of employees would like to continue to work from home on either a part-time or  full-time basis. She said the CRA was listening and taking these results into account as it  adjusted its workplace strategies going forward. Workplace strategies must also be balanced  with meeting the CRA’s mandate of delivering tax and benefit programs to Canadians.  

The AC, FAB, said that with the new ways of working, the CRA’s office space would also have  to change post-pandemic; the amount and type of office space may need to change with more  employees working remotely. She expected that there would be less of a need for typical  cubicle arrangements, and an increase in collaborative space to support activities better suited  to being physically on-site. She noted that with a reduced presence in CRA worksites, it would  be very wasteful to have assigned cubicles that would sit empty for a significant portion of time.  Unassigned shared seating, like what auditors have been using for many years, would allow the  most efficient use of taxpayer dollars.  

The AC, FAB, said that the CRA is committed to continuing meaningful consultations with its  employees, union partners, and other stakeholders in the development of its future workplace.  She said that an increased work-from-home posture may offer opportunities to expand our diverse and inclusive workforce. The CRA may also be able to attract and retain the talent  needed now and in the future, ultimately reducing traditional geographical barriers. She also  noted the impact of a Work from Home posture could significantly reduce the CRA’s national  carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions through reduced commuting requirements. 

The AC, FAB, said that achieving this vision would take time. Modernizing the office space for  45,000 people will span over the next 5 to10 years, if not more. She advised that the CRA is  committed to providing a workplace of the future that is employee-centric, accessible, flexible,  technology-enabled and offers various workspace as well as work-from-home options suited to  the Agency's diverse workload. She said that the CRA will continue to look at the work from  home environment in conjunction with the corporate policy instruments on virtual work to ensure  employees have the right tools and are appropriately equipped to work efficiently from home or  from a CRA worksite. She said that the CRA would continue to work with the union and seek  their input on key steps.  

The Commissioner emphasized that as the CRA looks to the future, it will not be all or nothing.  He said that the workplace will be built for all employees including for those who like to work  remotely, as well as those who want or have to work in the office. He said the CRA will have to  find something that works for employees and the organization.  

2. Discrimination and Harassment  

The union requested an update on the implementation of Bill C-65 including training and  statistics on new occurrences.  

The Toronto Region AFS Representative opened the topic by providing an update on the  activities of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) Working Group focusing  on the implementation of Bill C-65 and the new Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention  Regulations which came into effect January 1, 2021. He advised that a final version of the new  procedures for handling Workplace Violence was expected to be sent for final approval shortly.  With respect to training, he advised that a CRA module had been developed to complement the  Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) course, and was currently with the Working Group for  feedback. The module should be launched in the coming months. The Toronto Region AFS  Representative said that staffing was underway to hire new harassment and violence resolution  officers, who will fulfil the “designated recipient” role under the regulations. A training approach  is being developed and will be shared with the Working Group. Finally, he also advised that the  Working Group was beginning work on jointly developing a list of investigators.  

The Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources Branch (AC, HRB), thanked the Toronto  Region AFS Representative, as well as the NCR-IT Region AFS Representative, for all the work  they had contributed on this file. He provided an update on the Workplace Harassment and  Violence Prevention (WHVP) Program, and noted that the Working Group had met close to a  dozen times since October 2020. In addition to the work already mentioned by the Toronto  Region AFS Representative, the Working Group has also developed an interim process for  dealing with cases received between January 1, 2021, and when the new harassment and  violence resolution officers will be in place. The AC, HRB, advised that on March 18, 2021, the  CRA announced that all employees must complete the employee training developed by the Canada School of the Public Service, and in mid-May, the short training module, which  addresses how the Regulations apply at the CRA, would be launched. He said that there were  54 open cases under the previous process, and 9 new cases in 2021. 

The AC, HRB, also confirmed for participants that the current Discrimination and Harassment  Centre of Expertise (DHCE) would be clearing out its harassment cases from the previous year.  Existing cases will be completed through the former process. He said that the former DHCE will  have to be renamed to reflect the changes in its function. Communication will take place to  ensure that employees and managers understand its new function/role. 

The Commissioner noted that this is a significant undertaking for everyone, and a great deal of  effort had been made. He appreciated that the parties were working well together on this file.  

3. Audit, Evaluation, and Risk Branch Report – write-offs  

The union asked if there were new systems or enhancements being planned to identify and  minimize uncollectible accounts. In particular, the union asked what requests had been received  by the Information Technology Branch (ITB) to improve the use of data analytics and business  intelligence.  

The NCR-IT Region AFS Representative also asked that management provide a breakdown of  how the funding announced in the budget will be allocated; how much will go directly to program  delivery, and how much would go to support areas such as Human Resources (HR) and Shared  Services. He also requested that the union be provided with an overview of what requests had  been made to ITB and what the deliverables were. The NCR-IT Region Representative also  noted that when the Audit, Evaluation, and Risk Branch (AERB) has completed reports in the  past, sometimes the union is asked to be involved and sometimes not. He said the union would  like to be involved so that it can provide its feedback and perspective.  

The Assistant Commissioner, Collections and Verification Branch (AC, CVB) replied that with  respect to the announcement in the budget, some funding goes to internal services, and some  goes directly to program funding. He advised that this was currently being worked on, and  discussions were taking place with the Regions in terms of their capacity. He said that the CRA  was developing the best plan to achieve the objectives the government has set, and there would  be more to come on how it will structure that. He noted that the CRA had received similar  funding in 2016 and had been successful in increasing collections amount. As such, the CRA  has a good understanding of how to do more and is well-positioned to deliver the expected  results.  

The AC, CVB, said that in its response to the AERB report, there was a recognition that more  could be done if there were systems to better manage the workload. With respect to the system  changes referenced in the report, it is a reference to the Collections Verification Workload  Management System (CVWMS) which is a project that has been ongoing for many years.  Recently the project was put on hold as resources had to be diverted to the new pandemic  emergency measures administered by the CRA. However, planning on that project has resumed  and ITB has been re-engaged. The AC, CVB, committed to sharing the funding allocation plan once it has been finalized. With  respect to the question of union consultation, he stated that they are committed to having those  discussions when there are changes to the way the work is done, and as programs are  transformed. However, in response to the AERB report, there were no changes to how the work  was being done or to technology.  

With respect to the final AERB report, the NCR-IT Region AFS Representative noted that the  union was only made aware of it when it was published on the InfoZone. He said it would have  been nice to have seen it sooner, and that it would not hurt to engage the union earlier.  

The AC, AERB, addressed the NCR-IT Region AFS Representative’s comments regarding  union consultation in the AERB process. He noted that the unions had been consulted on  certain audits and evaluations in the past. However, it is management that is responsible for  developing action plans and responses to AERB recommendations. He noted that when  management completes its action plans and responses, they should be consulting with the  unions, where appropriate. The AC, AERB, said that in future he would be happy to give the  union advance notice prior to reports being published on InfoZone, and to provide briefings on  final reports where appropriate. The NCR-IT AFS Representative responded that it would be  appreciated.  

Action items: 

∙ The AC, CVB, committed to providing a breakdown of funding allocation once  completed. 

∙ The AC, AERB, offered to provide advance notice, through the Union-Management  Relations Team, prior to final reports being published on InfoZone, and to provide the  union briefings on final reports where appropriate. 


4. Telework and Virtual work arrangements  

The union requested an update on the successes and challenges of telework during the  pandemic and on opportunities to update CRA policies and collective agreement language. 

The President, AFS Group, opened the topic by saying that, as he had mentioned during the  last NUMCC meeting and in all the recent rounds of collective bargaining, the CRA needs to  provide employees with the ability to work from home for those who want it. He said that this  had become the normal way of working and it is a high priority for AFS members to have  

telework language included in their collective agreement. He remarked that it is unfair to expect  members to take on all the responsibilities and risks of working from home after having fought  for decades to have protections for these same employees while working in our offices. He  noted that there were concerns with members facing accommodation needs who were simply  being returned to an office. In his view, this was discrimination based on a disability as other  employees are not being forced back into the workplace. The President, AFS Group, concluded by saying that AFS members need collective agreement  protections that reflect current and future working environments, not those that only reflect the  past. The AFS Group will seek to introduce new flexible work language in the upcoming  bargaining round and proposes that the parties engage in pre-bargaining discussions to explore  options for telework language which would be a win-win for the Agency and its employees.  

The AC, HRB, remarked that the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in an abrupt widespread  shift to virtual work arrangements for CRA employees, and had substantially altered the way we  live and work. He advised that following feedback received from various stakeholders, including  the unions, the updated Guide to Virtual Work Arrangements had come into effect on April 1,  2021. The updates to the Guide were made to clearly delineate between the different types of  voluntary work arrangements, such as Telework and working remotely from another CRA office,  from both our current situation during the COVID-19 pandemic and future situations where  “working remotely under other circumstances” is required. He noted that it is not necessary for  employees to enter into a telework agreement when “working remotely under other  circumstances” such as during the pandemic. However, managers wishing to support telework  beyond the pandemic can follow the steps outlined in the telework section of the Guide. The  Guide will continue to be updated as needed.  

With respect to next steps, the AC, HRB, advised that a new suite of policies related to virtual  work arrangements was being developed, including a new directive, procedures, and additional  support tools. The new policy suite is anticipated for release in the fourth quarter of 2021-2022.  Collaboration with unions with respect to the flexibilities set out in CRA policies, including virtual  work arrangements, will continue to be undertaken outside of the bargaining process. 

The AC, HRB, then provided an update on the CRA’s employee surveys. To better understand  employee perspectives and experiences, the CRA has sent surveys to employees four times  since the start of the pandemic. The AFS Group was consulted on questions for surveys #3 and  #4 and has been provided with survey results. Results from survey #4 will be reported once they are analyzed and available; the survey asked again about preferences for workplace locations.  The AC, HRB, said that the information gathered is being used to inform business decisions and  implementation plans are being developed for larger scale telework/virtual work.  

The AC, HRB, provided an update on status of the Flextime pilot projects the CRA had  committed to under the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to the current collective  agreement between the CRA and the AFS Group. He advised that following the COVID-19  pandemic, the launch of the Prairie pilot to introduce the Flextime initiative had been delayed  given that the majority of the CRA employee population was working remotely under this  exceptional circumstance. At the request of the AFS Group, that pilot project has been put on  hold and will be revisited in May 2021. However, a new pilot project will be deployed in the  Quebec Region that will allow employees who work remotely to use Flextime, which is not  presently permitted under the current guidelines. He said that the new pilot project will be  deployed for a period of 12 months and was expected to launch in early May 2021. He noted  that consultations for this new pilot were taking place at the regional level as agreed with the  AFS Group. 

The Commissioner noted that it would be an ongoing topic as the CRA moves forward to the  agency of the future.  

5. Pay-related matters 

The union requested an update on the pension calculator and incorrect pension calculations for  employees who had retired since the last collective agreement. The union also requested an  update on the NextGen / HR to Pay System to replace Phoenix. 

The AC, HRB, said that employees who had retired, as well as those who consulted the Public  Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) for pension estimates (online calculator or call  centre), had been met by frustration as amounts were not properly calculated. He explained that  to correct the interface issue between Phoenix and the pension system, the Pension Centre had been developing the “Garage solution” which would convert salary revision payments that are  paid in lump sums into an annual rate, allowing for accurate pension estimates. He was happy  to advise that the Pension Centre had informed the CRA that testing of the “Garage solution”  had been successful for Penfax, as it relates to updating salaries due to mass revisions. He  advised that the Penfax feeds had begun being implemented at the end of April 2021 and included salaries for both retired and active employees. He said that the CRA would be  including a message about the updates in its May edition of “It Pays to Know” which would be  available on InfoZone May 13, 2021. 

The AC, HRB, said that said that the CRA continues to support the stabilization of Phoenix and  the development of the next generation of Human Resources and the payroll system. He noted  that the NextGen team working on the next generation HR and payroll solution had decided to  initially focus on the Core Public Administration. However, the CRA would remain engaged in  the project, as NextGen is being looked at for an enterprise-wide eventual implementation. He  said that in fiscal year 2021-2022, a series of pilots would begin to evaluate the short-listed HR  and payroll solutions. The first pilot will be at Heritage Canada using software from SAP. He  also advised that PSPC continues to invest in changes to address problems related to Phoenix.  The CRA actively participates in this work and continues to offer support.  

The Vice-President, AFS Group, said that lately there had been a number of calls from retired  members who were having issues with their pensions because they had retired with unresolved  Phoenix issues on their files. He explained that this had led to claw backs in retirement, and  overpayments in retirement. He said that some retirees had been told that they owe thousands  of dollars and therefore would not receive pension checks for months. He said that the CRA  should do more to ensure pay issues are resolved for employees who have indicated they will  be retiring.  

The AC, HRB, replied that proactively addressing Phoenix issues on pension files would be  looked at, and if there were solutions to alleviate the problem they would be implemented.  

The President, AFS Group, remarked that AFS members’ problems with Phoenix were not in  the past, and that they continued to suffer from reliance on the flawed Phoenix pay system. He  noted that recently they had been advised that the catch-up clauses in the collective agreement  and the Phoenix damages settlement had been significantly delayed. This was quickly followed by news that the CRA would not correct the pay of AFS members who had transferred from  Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) for at least a year. He said there had been increased  complaints about incorrect guidance from the Compensation Centre, and that longstanding  problems with acting pay, leave with income averaging, and changes in provincial jurisdictions  for tax deductions had been unresolved for years. New problems are still arising, including some  retirees having no deductions taken from lump sum payments, such as vacation cash-outs. The  President, AFS Group, stated that it is unacceptable that the Canada Revenue Agency cannot  pay its own employees correctly and on time or ensure that retirees are compensated  consistently with the Public Service Pension Plan. He said that it is unacceptable that the CRA  simply blames outside parties for their payroll shortcomings and takes no positive steps to  correct the situation. 

The Prairie/NWT Region AFS Representative also said that there is frustration with  Compensation tickets being closed without the issue being resolved. Employees must  continually follow up to have them reopened. He said that there should be a higher level of  service, and that work needs to be done to address this. 

The AC, HRB, responded that he was surprised as he was not aware of something that  appeared to be much more extensive than the information he had seen with respect to the  Compensation team and what they could deliver. He said he would like to have an in-depth  conversation with the union to establish how significant this issue is and to look for solutions.  

Action item: 

∙ The AC, HRB, committed to reviewing the issue of employees retiring with Phoenix  pay issues, and to implementing any solutions that may be identified.  

∙ The AC, HRB, offered to have a follow up discussion with the union to establish how  significant the CCSC service-related issues are, and to find solutions if necessary. 


6. Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) 

The President, AFS Group, opened the topic by stating that the union was concerned that MS  Teams was being used as a surveillance tool. He noted that although MS Teams had been  intended as a communications tool, it was being used as a surveillance tool by some managers.  He said that this was a form or harassment of their members that needed to stop. He asked  management to confirm whether it was their intent that Teams be used as a surveillance tool. 

The BC/Yukon Region AFS Representative advised that AFS continues to receive complaints  from members on this issue. He said that members are being told to turn cameras on in  meetings, to turn MS Teams on during work hours, and that some managers are expecting  employees to respond to MS Team messages within 5-10 minutes. The union requested that the CRA issue national guidelines to be followed by local management with respect to MS  Teams use. He said this would confirm the message management was providing right at the  meeting and would remove a lot of confusion around this issue. The union also expressed concerns that it had been implied to members that disciplinary action  would follow if they do not comply with management’s direction to leave MS Teams on or to turn  their cameras on in meetings.  

The AC, HRB, said that MS Teams is one of many collaboration tools that allowed CRA  employees to remain connected while most employees continue to work remotely. The  pandemic had not only resulted in a shift in how we work, but also in how we communicate with  our teams and other employees within the CRA. He said that no Agency-wide guidance had been provided with respect to how these collaborative tools should be used; it is up to each area to determine its needs and approaches based on its realities. He said that management asks  their employees to use Microsoft Teams so that they do not miss out on communications and  are more easily reachable when needed. He confirmed that MS Teams is not being promoted to  track time or work attendance and that it is not recommended for that purpose. The available  data shown is not being logged or tracked anywhere and there is no history. He advised that he  was not aware of any cases resulting in discipline to employees. He remarked that the issue  appeared to be regional or local, after canvassing his Assistant Commissioner colleagues. The  AC, HRB, encouraged further discussions to take place at the local level on this topic.  

The Commissioner said that he would like to better understand the issue and what people are  doing relative to a regular office environment. He remarked that he would be very surprised if  someone did not respond for five minutes and was disciplined. However, if someone did not  show up for an hour, concerns would be raised as they would be in an office environment. He  thanked the union for raising the issue and said that management would take a closer look to  determine if there is anything that should be done.  

Action item: 

∙ The AC, HRB, committed to looking into the issue further.


7. The Union-Management Approach (UMA) 

The President, AFS Group, raised concerns about changes being unilaterally made by  management without consultation with the unions. He noted that consultation is supposed to  precede the decision-making stage. However, management had revised UMA training content  and delivery and then had presented it as a finished product to the unions. He said that this  violated the spirit and intent of UMA. He asked that management to confirm that they would not make any future changes to UMA or UMA training without consulting with the unions.  

The AC, HRB, thanked the President, AFS Group, for raising the topic. He said that when  COVID-19 hit in March 2020, restrictions such as physical distancing had been imposed. He  explained that because the situation was anticipated to continue for some time, the Leadership  and Learning Directorate (LLD) had selected several existing learning products and established  a preliminary list of prioritized national courses to be converted to virtual delivery, in partnership  with the functional owners. The courses that were prioritized were the most-attended program skills courses tied to new hires for the fall 2020, and courses that would support business  resumption plans, and in particular the virtual nature of work. The LLD also began to develop a  guide to assist functional owners with how to quickly pivot their classroom course for virtual  delivery.  

The AC, HRB, said that this approach had been adopted enterprise-wide in the summer of 2020  in order to increase the internal capacity to provide virtual training. In July 2020 a message was  sent to the UMA Committee members informing them that the LLD would be pivoting the UMA  103 workshop to a virtual format. Members were asked to provide any feedback, questions, or  concerns. He advised that in preparation for the March 1, 2021, UMA Committee meeting,  members had been sent another message on February 2, 2021, which contained the training  material for virtual delivery of UMA 103, and been asked to provide their feedback. The  message indicated that the content of the course remained the same; only the delivery method  had been changed.  

The AC, HRB, advised that at the March 1, 2021, UMA Committee meeting, both unions had  raised concerns that the virtual format would no longer meet the objective of the face-to-face  training, in that its purpose was to allow participants to build relationships. Due to the current  COVID-19 situation, there was a common consensus that face-to-face meetings would not  

happen for some time, and that virtual learning is not a replacement for in-person training. He  said that the UMA Committee was still in discussions regarding the feasibility of virtual delivery  of UMA 103.  

The NCR-IT AFS Representative remarked that the LLD had decided they did not need to  consult the union. He noted that even if the LLD had been proactively looking for solutions,  there was still a process that needed to be followed; since there is a joint committee, that is  where it should have gone. He said that there had been harm done to the union-management  relationship as a result of not following this process. The CS Regional Representative also  raised concerns that the CRA may try to deliver UMA 103 virtually in future as a cost-saving  measure for small offices.  

The AC, HRB, thanked the union for their comments, and apologized if the consultation process  had not been followed. He said that collaboration should be the priority and that the Committee  would continue to be consulted.  

The Commissioner remarked he was very supportive of UMA and said we should not lose sight  of the overall progress that has been made. He noted there are various issues that need to be  responded to and thanked the union for raising the issue.  

8. Compliance Programs – High net worth audits 

The union requested an update on High Net Worth Audits and other significant changes to audit  programs. The union noted that new budget measures had been recently announced, and said  they would like to discuss what steps the CRA had taken to utilize this new funding.  

The Deputy Assistant Commissioner (DAC), Compliance Programs Branch (CPB), provided an  update on new funding and initiatives. He said that since Budget 2016, the CRA had committed  to cracking down on tax evasion and combatting aggressive tax avoidance. Building on these investments, the Government of Canada had committed to an additional $606 million over 5  years, starting this fiscal year to allow the CRA to fund new initiatives and extend existing  programs targeting international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. He said that of the  announced funding, the High Net Worth Compliance Directorate (HNWCD) will be receiving  $461.2 million over a five-year period and $109.8 million ongoing to tighten the net on high net  worth individuals, promoters, corporations, and entities that try to avoid paying their fair share of  taxes. He noted that initial headquarters and regional engagements with unions had occurred in  March 2021 while the CRA had been awaiting the approval of its funding submission to the  Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS). The funding proposal was recently approved by the TBS and  funding was expected to be received shortly.  

With respect to staffing, the DAC, CPB, advised that the HNWCD will be hiring an additional 400  offshore-focused auditors to focus on individuals who avoid taxes by hiding income and assets  offshore and to enhance the audit function targeting higher-risk tax filings, including those of  high-net worth individuals. He said that the HNWCD had recently completed the regional  allocation plan and had established a Dedicated Staffing Team (DST). He said that the DST will  increase the efficiency of the staffing process and establish a coordinated national approach  that balances opportunities for current employees while attracting diverse and highly qualified  external candidates. He said that the CRA would be using a mix of internal and external staffing  processes and advised that external staffing processes will be created as the demographics  required to fill all positions cannot be done solely by internal promotions and internal  recruitment. He noted that there will be a need to recruit a large number of AU staff across the  country at all levels, however the HNWCD had identified a particular need at the AU03 and  AU04 levels.  

The DAC, CPB, also advised that this program expansion comes at a time when CPB is  reflecting on the role of different levels of auditors in the programs. For example, the  International and Large Business Directorate is testing the role of AU-02 auditors within its  programs, and the Small and Medium Enterprises Directorate is exploring the use of AU-04  auditors in its program. 

With regard to next steps, the DAC, CPB, advised that the Program Implementation Plan and  the Tax Services Office (TSO) Allocation Plan were currently being worked on and were on  track to be completed this summer. He noted that feedback received from union members in  previous town halls in relation to AU-03 and AU-04 positions had highlighted the need to ensure  better development of staffing plans including more training, more support, and more time. He  said that staffing and training strategies will be developed in the coming months and that they  will reflect the feedback received. These strategies will be completed this summer to ensure that  qualified candidates can begin receiving their job offers in the fall. With the assistance of the  DST, the HNWCD plans to have Fall Economic Statement-related positions fully staffed by the  end of 2023-24 while ensuring a deliberate approach to ramping up programs and the  preserving the ability to deliver high priority COVID-related workloads. 

The BC/Yukon Region AFS Representative asked how the CRA would be verifying the  experience of external candidates. He said that internal candidates must have their experience  verified by their Team Leader and asked whether the CRA verifies experience for external AU-03 and AU-04 candidates. He noted that some external candidates may have experience which  meets the dollar threshold but is not complex work. He asked if management could expand on  how right fit is determined for external candidates.  

The DAC, CPB, replied that for staffing assessments, the CRA assesses overall skills,  knowledge and competencies however we cannot expect external candidates to know internal  CRA processes. Further, in hiring externally, the CRA relies quite heavily on the probationary  period since it cannot evaluate external candidates in the same way that it does for internal  candidates. He noted that external staffing is part of the overall approach, and that staffing plans  are still being developed with the regions. He said that a combination of internal and external  staffing would complement each other, and noted that it could also contribute to building  diversity and inclusion in the workforce.  

The Toronto Region AFS Representative commented on the complexity of tax evasion and  aggressive tax avoidance, and noted that success may require more than just AU03s and  AU04s. He asked whether funding would also be allocated to such things as lawyers, experts,  and IT intelligence in order to address the complexity of these audits. 

The DAC, CPB, advised that in addition to hiring additional auditors, the CRA is also investing in  data, in IT, in business intelligence, and is working with international partners on exchange of  information. These investments form part of complex solution. He also noted that it is not just a  question of increased audits; we also need to pursue our efforts through litigation in certain  cases.  

The Commissioner noted that there had been a resurgence of tax avoidance. He said his goal  was to get the best people and provide them the right tools, including data analytics and  business intelligence.  

9. Ontario Region – Centres of Excellence  

The union requested an update on the Ontario Region expanded use of centres of excellence  and future plans. 

The AC, Ontario Region, explained that Ontario Region was undertaking an exercise to realign  programs to improve service to Canadians and promote more career opportunities for  employees. She said that the focus continues to be on people first—placing employees and  taxpayers at the centre of every decision made. The Ontario region will enhance its  organizational structure by grouping the management of similar programs and services  together. She said that the review would consider best practices and include engagement with  employees and consultations with union partners and the branches.  

The AC, Ontario Region, advised that the Ontario Region Organizational Review (OROR) had  been launched through employee virtual Town Halls in February 2021. An Employee  Engagement Survey took place between February 19 and March 5, 2021, with over 2,300  surveys completed. The feedback was summarized and provided to Director Led Working  Groups to assist them in identifying program line opportunities. The feedback was also shared with the OROR Regional Union Management Working Group, and with employees through an  all-staff message. She said that an enhanced organizational structure for the Ontario Region will be developed using this information. It is expected that a draft model will be developed by July  2021.  

The AC, Ontario Region, noted that some of the feedback received related to the  implementation of an enhanced model. She said that the comments received will be considered  at the implementation stage of the exercise which will last until implementation on April 1, 2022.  She noted that timelines were rough estimates and may change as the project progresses. The  AC, Ontario Region, also advised that to support engagement with employees and consultations  with union partners, information pertaining to the OROR exercise including the governance  structure was readily accessible in both official languages on the OR InfoZone page and content  was updated regularly. 

Before beginning his comments on the OROR, the Toronto Region AFS Representative stated  that their AFS members were looking forward to the report from the evaluation exercise being  completed by the Audit, Evaluation, and Risk Branch (AERB) on the GTA Modernization. With  respect to the OROR, he said that the AFS Group was encouraged with the governance  structure used to complete the evaluation for the expanded use of centres of excellence. After  reviewing the results of the survey, there were three facts that he wanted to point out: the  models are being built from the ground up and cannot be compared to the GTA Modernization  exercise; drafts have now been provided to the branches for feedback; and there will be no job  losses although reporting structures may change.  

The Toronto Region AFS Representative asked whether staffing would be centralized under the  new model, whether the Travel Directive would be respected when employees are working  virtually and there is a need for face-to-face meetings, and what approaches would be used to  increase the technical capacity in the new centres. In response the AC, Ontario Region, advised  that staffing under the OROR model would be guided by business needs and that the goal was  to leverage talent without limitations of geography. She also confirmed that the Travel Directive  would be respected when there is a requirement for face-to-face meetings. She said that once  the new model had been determined, approaches to increasing technical capacity would need  to be developed.  

10. Official Languages 

The union wanted to discuss adherence to official language requirements in the context of  union-management consultations. They were concerned that unilingual CRA employees are not  able to participate in union-management consultations to the extent that bilingual employees are  able. The union also asked for management’s agreement that all internal staffing processes in  the Quebec Region must include various language requirements, and asked for a commitment  to conduct rigorous and objective assessments of language needs in Quebec in accordance  with the Official Languages Act, specifically section 91. 

The AC, HRB, said that during national union-management consultations, it is important that all  measures be taken to ensure the language rights of all participants are respected. Specific  measures taken to meet this obligation may include, for example, the translation of important  points by the person chairing the meeting. It is important that these measures allow participants  to understand and be understood when speaking in their preferred official language. He noted 


that simultaneous translation is not the only option available to ensure that official languages  requirements are met. He said that among the good practices identified by the Office of the  Commissioner of Official Languages for meetings where the level of bilingualism of the  participants is varied and where some are unilingual, is the practice of summaries being made  in French of the major points in made in English, and vice versa. He advised that this is the  CRA’s preferred approach, and allows it to meet its obligations under the Official Languages  Act. The AC, HRB, said that supporting documentation will continue to be provided in both  official languages, as in the past. He said that unilingual participants who prefer to go beyond  official language requirements in order to validate and confirm their comprehension of what is  being said are free to discuss and explore different approaches. 

With respect to the language requirements and profile of positions, the AC, HRB, advised that  the Official Languages Act requires that they be established objectively without regard to  individuals' language competencies, and based on functions and duties of the position. The  obligations relate to communications and services to the public and language of work, and refer  to the bilingual capacity required to provide services without delay and of equal quality in both  official languages. Therefore, it is not possible to systematically post all internal staffing  processes with “various language profiles”.  

The AC, HRB, said that with respect to the bilingual capacity exercise in Quebec, management  had met with local union representatives on April 23, 2021, to present the report and consult  with them. He said that union representatives had until May 7, 2021, to provide their comments.  The report will then be forwarded to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. 

The Quebec Region AFS Representative stated that the CRA promotes the language of choice,  but that employees are far from being able to use it. He expressed concern with regard to the  conclusions presented by Eastern Quebec Tax Services Office (TSO) management regarding  their analysis on the bilingual needs of audit positions. He said that according to their  methodology for analyzing bilingual needs, an audit file would become bilingual as soon as at  least one shareholder is English-speaking, as soon as the company makes a sale outside of  Quebec, or as soon as the company has a foreign translation or a foreign subsidiary. He said  that according to them, when in doubt a file is always bilingual. He said that according to the  employees at the meeting, and based on the conclusions of the analysis, there would be no  more unilingual French positions at the AU03 level or higher.  

The Quebec Region AFS Representative asked if this same methodology would be applied  elsewhere in the country; would a position in British Columbia become bilingual if a company  being audited has sales in Quebec? He said that they had the impression that there were two  ways of applying the Official Languages Act; one for Francophones and one for Anglophones.  He noted that for the CRA to meet its language commitments, there must be enough bilingual  employees to serve each taxpayer in the language of his or her choice. However, in Quebec  City, the principle is to have only fully bilingual employees with CBC language profiles “just in  case". He said that asking all Quebec City auditors to be bilingual is unnecessary; there only  needs to be sufficient bilingual employees to meet the need. He said unilingual French auditors  at the Eastern Quebec TSO are victims of the lack of vigour in defining linguistic profiles and are  consequently hampered in their career progression. The Quebec Region AFS Representative also noted that a large number of positions are designated “bilingual” when only the ability to  read documents in English is required. In this case, the language profile should only require a  “B” in reading, as speaking and writing skills are not relevant. He said that creating positions  with language profiles only requiring a “B” in English reading, or a “C” in reading and “B” in  writing would solve most of the problem. There is no need to ask for an oral language rating  when there is no need to interact verbally in English.  

The Commissioner said that the discussions would continue and remarked that this is an  interesting issue and there was lots of work to do in this area.  

11. Public Service Employee Survey 

The union requested an update on next steps and on their concerns regarding the service  provider and failures in surveys since the CRA stopped using Statistics Canada.  

The Toronto Region AFS Representative commented that the survey results were important for  the Agency, and noted that data integrity had been questionable for the past few years. He said  he hoped this would be corrected and improved for future years, as accurate data is needed to  

make relevant decisions. He said they continue to promote the Public Service Employee Survey  (PSES) to their members. He noted that statistics show that the CRA had a high participation  rate. He said they understand that the Agency had used Advantis because of contractual  obligations with Treasury Board. He asked whether the CRA plans to continue using an outside  provider in the coming years.  

The AC, HRB, agreed that this was a good news story for the Agency. He advised that on  February 26, 2021, the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) had shared the final response rates  for the overall Public Service and individual departments and agencies. The CRA’s final  response rate for the 2020 PSES was 68.8%, which was higher than the overall Public Service  response rate of 60.6%. He noted that the CRA having a higher response rate than the Public  Service was consistent with previous years. He said that the Agency was very happy with this  outcome. He thanked the union for their continued support on the PSES.  

With respect to the data integrity issue, the AC, HRB, said that the Agency had validated the  results received from the TBS and that the data was reliable all the way down to the  organizational level. Although overall agency-level data was accurate in 2018 and 2019, the  accuracy of branch and regional level results had been compromised as a result of employees  misidentifying their own organizational units. The AC, HRB, noted that the strategies the  Agency had put in place to address this issue had been successful, and that the CRA would be  able to drill down right to the organizational unit level for the first time in three years. He  confirmed that this is the final year of the contract between the TBS and Advantis, a private  research firm which has administered the PSES the last three years. He said that the CRA did  not know if the TBS intends to move forward with Advantis for the future. He said that the CRA  would keep the union updated. 

The Commissioner commented that the issue of data integrity is very important for the CRA and  that it had been working hard on this problem since it was uncovered. He was pleased with the  success this year and said it was a tribute to the work done on the Agency’s part to get there. He said that the CRA did not know what the TBS would do for a provider, and assured the union  that the CRA would continue to fight hard for whatever ensures the highest data integrity.  

The Toronto Region AFS Representative commented that we need to make sure that success is  celebrated. He said that members need to be informed of the success, and that the data will be  used at the lowest level. He remarked that the Agency should be encouraging people to use the  data to the fullest extent. He also commented that the CRA needs to ensure the five additional  questions that can be added to the survey are being used to the fullest extent possible. He  thanked management for the update.  

The AC, HRB, advised that the in addition to the questions added by the Agency, there were  also a number of questions related to COVID. He said that the Agency will be able to correlate  those results with the findings from the CRA’s own internal surveys which had been referenced  earlier in the meeting. He also advised that there had been a delay in receiving the results from  the TBS, and that the union would be advised once they were received.  

12. Service by Design 

Due to time constraints, it was agreed that management would provide the union with a written  update on this topic.  

Action item: 

∙ Management to provide written update to the union. 


13. Staffing Redesign 

The union requested an update on Staffing Redesign, and a discussion on the use of non advertised staffing and other staffing concerns. 

The Ontario Region AFS Representative said that the increase in non-advertised staffing and  external staffing were serious concerns. He said that both of these trends had resulted in their members not having access to staffing recourse as intended under the CRA Act. He also said that the excessive use of external staffing processes also circumvents the provisions of the AFS  collective agreement, namely clause 17.16, that provides members with paid time to participate  in staffing processes. This is because the Employer has taken up the practice of staffing  externally through testing outside of normal working hours. He also noted that there are formal  and informal agreements to share Notice of Job Opportunities and staffing planning documents  with the union prior to their being published, and that this practice is in the spirit and intention of  UMA as it provides an opportunity to resolve conflicts (and correct inadvertent errors) at the  earliest stage. He advised that the union has found major staffing concerns have arisen when  they were not provided with an opportunity up front to share any concerns or suggestions. He  said that AFS was concerned that there was a growing national trend to keep the union in the  dark about staffing as long as possible. He requested that management share their staffing  planning documents and NOJOs at the start of the staffing process. The Ontario Region AFS  Representative also advised that they have noticed an increase in long term actings which was unfortunate as progress had been made on this concern in recent years. He said that long term actings lead to the unfortunate situation that employees feel entitled to jobs that they are acting  in and it also provides an unfair advantage to long term actors over other employees. 

The AC, HRB, advised that the Staffing Redesign Project is developing comprehensive  guidelines for Non-Advertised Staffing. He noted that the goal of the non-advertised staffing strategy is not to increase or decrease the use of non-advertised staffing. He said the goal is to  address both employee and manager concerns by providing managers with clear and consistent  guidelines, more support from Human Resources, and increased communications when non advertised staffing is used. He said that the non-advertised staffing strategy is still being  developed, and is being done in collaboration with union partners from both AFS and UTE. He  said that the CRA was grateful for the collaboration and valuable input from the unions, which  had helped to shape the draft strategy. He advised that the CRA had met with its union  colleagues on many occasions regarding this subject, and that the CRA would continue taking  that approach to collaboration. 

With respect to numbers, the AC, HRB, advised that for the past three years, non-advertised  staffing actions accounted for about 39% of staffing actions at the CRA. He said that lateral  moves accounted for 18%, acting appointments greater than 6 months 12%, term appointments  greater than 6 months 4.7%, and permanent appointments 4.3%. He noted that these numbers  did not include acting appointments under 6 months, acting or term extensions, or administrative  conversions.  

The AC, HRB, said that the issue of long term actings was an important one. He advised that  upon the most recent review, the CRA acknowledges that there had been a steady increase in  long term actings. He said that to support its commitment to monitoring lengthy acting  appointments, the CRA was undertaking a review of long term actings greater than 2 years and  requesting rationale and justifications for all such appointments. He advised that the HRB had gone out nationally to gather information on all actings of a period of 2 years and that more, and  the information was expected soon. He said the analysis would look at the plans to resolve the  actings, the percentage of non-advertised actings, and those resulting from a staffing process.  The analysis will also look at the number of actings to be resolved in the next few months, will  review how actings were resolved, and will re-examine the CRA benchmark on long term  actings. He said that the HRB looked forward to making progress on this file, and the project  was expected to be completed by the end of May 2021.  

The BC/Yukon Region AFS Representative said that members are very frustrated with non advertised processes. He said that in some cases management was using non-advertised  staffing to appoint people who had failed staffing assessments rather than appoint people from pools who had passed the assessments. He reiterated that members are frustrated and  expressed hope that there would be guidelines for local management to follow on non advertised staffing.  

The AC, HRB, noted that the current high proportion of non-advertised appointments could be  explained by a number of factors related to the pandemic. He noted that all advertised  processes had been completely halted in the spring of 2020, and that when they restarted at the end of June 2020 it had taken the CRA several months to switch to virtual staffing. Managers  were still adjusting to remote work and COVID-19 related pressures and were not prepared to  staff at normal levels.  

The Headquarters Region AFS Representative said that the concern was permanent promotion  without advertisement. He noted that it was a slippery slope, and it was easy to go too far and  degrade the meritocracy the CRA is supposed to be operating in.  

The Commissioner said that permanent promotions without advertisement would be something  the CRA would keep an eye on. He said that he was excited about Staffing Redesign and  remarked that work on this could really help the CRA. He noted that there will be issues to  address from all sides, but that it was an important piece that should make the Agency better.  

14. AFS Classification  

The union requested an update on the AFS classification review and next steps. 

The President, AFS Group, noted that the union had been working with management to  modernize the CRA’s classification standards in the early 2000s, however the work had been halted as a result of the Expenditure Restraint Act. To resume this work, both parties agreed to  conduct a joint union-management classification review as out in the AFS collective agreement. He said that the work was done and that significant findings resulted. The NUMCC  Classification Working Group presented its final report to the October 2019 NUMCC. He  advised that many concerns were identified in the joint review, the most obvious including that  the standards were outdated and that virtually none of the standards complied with the  Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). He remarked that many of the factors and important  issues that are at play in the modern workplace are not considered when evaluating jobs in the  Agency. He advised that the members of the working group had agreed that the only option to  resolve the serious issues identified was to undertake classification reform. He said that it was critical that senior CRA management address these issues.  

The President, AFS Group, commented that the union had shared its serious concerns with the  “What we Heard” classification study conducted by management following the joint review. He  said the methodology was flawed as the consultations were “mainly targeted towards  managers” and not towards employees who are most directly affected by their classification or  their unions who represent them. He said that the Employer had expressed an interest in using  more generic work descriptions to expedite hiring. However, he said that the specialized work  being done by some AFS members required specialized work descriptions to ensure employees  are properly classified and compensated. He said that staffing should not be the driver of  classification.  

The President, AFS Group, also expressed concerns about what is considered AU work vs. SP  work, as all audit work should belong to the Auditing (AU) classification group. He also noted  that the minimal pay gap between non-professional versus professional work causes hiring  issues. He said the AFS Group is concerned that the report advocates for contracting out and  that managers felt that the Agency needs to adjust to the growing gig economy and should  review its employer/employee relationships to match that reality. He said that the worst thing the Employer could do for its employees or the public is to embrace “gig economy” work that  degrades and devalues the work of professionals. If the Employer wants highly skilled/educated  employees, it should never go down the path of treating its workforce as disposable inventory.  He said that embracing the gig economy would jeopardize our employees and the public  services that we provide, making a mockery of our people first philosophy. 

The President, AFS Group, noted that if the CRA wants to have employees who can perform  professional audits and credibly testify in court, or employees who can develop and support  information technology systems to protect Canadian taxpayer information, it needs to maintain and not weaken the AU, CS, or other educational standards. He said that despite their  concerns, the AFS Group was pleased that the Agency now has a mandate to begin  classification reform. He asked whether management would honour their commitments to  modernize our AFS classification standards that date back to the early 2000s by taking the  necessary steps now to update all AFS classification standards and bring CRA into compliance  with the CHRA. 

The AC, HRB, thanked the union for raising this important issue. He commented that many  findings in the “What we Heard” report were directly in line with the conclusions of the NUMCC  working group on classification, which highlighted the need to modernize the CRA’s standards  and occupational group structure. He said that both sides agree that the Agency needs a  modern classification system, and that both sides want modern evaluation tools that reflect the  current and future needs of the Agency. He noted that although it will bring fundamental change,  it will not be a short or simple process. He said that the Agency is currently in the exploration  and research phase and not yet at the point of solutions or conclusions.  

The AC, HRB, advised that the CRA will break down the research into manageable projects, or  issues, which will then be reported to the Corporate Management Committee. These  projects/topics may include policy reforms, individual standards/groups, or other findings. He  said that at present, the Agency had received a mandate to explore options for the MG group  and to move the process streamlining agenda further. He advised that when ready, these  options will be presented to the Corporate Management Committee. He advised that the CRA  intends to continue the same environment of openness and cooperation that was established  during the work of the NUMCC sub-committee on classification, and that it is committed to  engaging bargaining agents in a meaningful way. He said that the teams met on April 27, 2021,  and explained the next steps of the CRA’s approach to Classification Reform. Classification  Reform will begin with the MG group before proceeding to other groups, and it will set the  framework for how other standards are structured. He noted that the work of the NUMCC sub committee on classification would be used in all this work.  

Closing remarks 

The President, AFS Group, thanked everyone for their participation in the meeting. He noted  again the importance of moving forward on classification reform without delay. He said that AFS members had been waiting for such reform for decades and that it was work that both parties  agree can and must be done. He commented on the Agency’s People Frist philosophy and  stressed the importance that the CRA’s own employees should not be an afterthought. He said the CRA must ensure that its statements on this topic were acted upon and applied to its own  employees, and that “People First” did not become just a catch phrase or recruitment slogan. In  closing, the President, AFS Group, said that some people at the meeting had suffered personal  losses from the pandemic and that everyone had suffered to some extent from the effects of the  pandemic and its impact on Canadian Society. He wished everyone good mental and physical  health for themselves and their loved ones.  

The Commissioner thanked everyone for attending the meeting, and said that there had been a  good dialogue with many topics. He said that dialogue was not confined to the formal NUMCC  meetings, and that discussions between the parties continue year-round. He noted that often  the discussions outside the NUMCC are the most important. He commented that everyone had  been touched by the pandemic, and he thanked everyone for persevering through this difficult  time. He said that the CRA had accomplished great things in the last year, and that the public  was proud of this work. He said it was important to recognize that circumstances were not easy,  and that success had also come at a cost to everyone. With respect to People First philosophy,  the Commissioner emphasized that it was not just a catch phrase and that it also includes the  CRA’s people, not just the people it services. He noted that the People First approach has  helped the CRA through the pandemic, and that the CRA would look to build upon it as it comes  out of the pandemic.  

NOTE: Serious technical difficulties with the simultaneous interpretation were experienced  throughout the meeting. As a result, some attendees may have been unable to fully  participate in the discussions as usual. 


Bob Hamilton 


Canada Revenue Agency 

Doug Mason 


Audit, Financial and Scientific Group Professional Institute of the Public  Service of Canada 

Date: 2021-11-22 Date: