The Chairperson of the meeting and President, AFS Group, thanked everyone for participating in this first virtual NUMCC meeting and acknowledged that he had never been so proud to be president of the AFS Group than he has been throughout the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. He mentioned that the AFS members had to suddenly adapt to changing work environments and that many of them have had to overcome significant challenges in getting their home offices set up for safe and productive work. He added that the AFS members not only kept CRA programs running but did the critical work to introduce various income support measures for Canadians that saved millions of Canadians from income insecurity.

The President, AFS Group, thanked Steve Parent for his eight years of service as the Quebec Representative as well as Brian Hassall who will be retiring in the spring. He also welcomed Jean Couillard who was recently elected to this position and congratulated three AFS representatives on their re-election:

  • Manny Costain, CS Representative for the Regions and Secretary;
  • Robert Trudeau, Prairie / North West Territories Region Representative; and
  • Al Ravjiani, Toronto Region Representative.

In his opening remarks, the Commissioner said that we have all been under tremendous pressure not only to organize ourselves but also to serve Canadians. The Commissioner stated that the CRA has been recognized though the pandemic for all that it has done. He expressed the need to thank CRA employees profusely. He added in the same token that, as the head of the CRA, he received some of the credit that is given to the CRA from the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. He expressed his sense of pride in receiving that recognition on behalf of the CRA and recognized that in reality it goes to the forty-five thousand employees of the CRA. He also expressed his sense of pride for the relationship with both unions saying that the Union-Management Relations have been strong through the pandemic. He said that it has enabled the CRA to do great things. He thanked everyone for that collaborative spirit.


  1. Strategic Business Resumption Plan

The President, AFS Group, introduced the topic by requesting an update on the Strategic Business resumption (SBR) Plan.

The Special Advisor to the Commissioner, thanked the AFS Group for participating in the briefings provided earlier this year on Business Resumption. In his presentation, he provided the background of the SBR plan, along with an update on its current status. He explained that since the start of the pandemic, the CRA has moved from a critical services and business continuity mode to having resumed nearly all activities and services. The resumption of business was done in a systematic approach that was mindful of employee and client resilience, responsiveness to service needs, protecting the integrity of the tax system and ensuring the health and safety of CRA employees. With respect to the current status of the SBR plan, he confirmed that 99% of activities have resumed, including compliance and enforcement activities. He noted that although the activities have resumed, the way business is done has changed. As an example, he spoke of compliance activities that are continued in the People-First approach, where there are call and letter campaigns to taxpayers to assist them in complying voluntarily. At the same time, the Special Advisor said that the Agency is aware of emerging risks such as a second wave of the pandemic, or compliance and collections risks with the new benefits and/or taxpayers facing hardship. He also stated that the SBR initiative continues to monitor the internal and external environment, as well as the risk landscape in order to take an agile approach to resumption.

The President, AFS Group, raised concerns from union members regarding restrictions being put on the use of 699 time code as the pandemic is far from over and that this could have adverse affects on vulnerable groups, such as those with a compromised immune system, single parents or those with elderly relatives for whom they have responsibility. He said that the AFS Group is interested in having consultations about the future use of the 699 time code as this is very important for their AFS members.

The Special Advisor to the Commissioner mentioned how remarkable, flexible, diligent and responsive people have been helping out with the new programs. He acknowledged that it is certainly not easy out in the field, but it is extremely appreciated by the CRA.


  1. Telework and Virtual Work Arrangements

The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the Flextime initiative and on telework as the “new normal”.

The Assistant Commissioner (AC), Human Resources Branch (HRB), stated that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a large scale and abrupt change of virtual work arrangements for CRA employees at the same time where Canadians made all necessary efforts to stay home and maintain physical distancing. Through the last few months, we have seen employees from various branches and regions across the CRA come together and offer the Government of Canada economic measures to help Canadians. He explained that following consultations with both national unions, the HRB published three new tools to support virtual work and returning to CRA worksites:

  • Good virtual work communication practices for managers and employees;
  • Tips, Tricks and Best Practices for Virtual Meetings; and
  • A Guide to Support Management Decisions for telework and returning to CRA worksites.

He underlined that it is a priority for the CRA to understand the impact of these changes and learn from employee experiences as they continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. He said that the work is currently underway to update the CRA Guide on Virtual Work Arrangements to incorporate a section that covers working remotely under an exceptional circumstance, like COVID-19. He added that the CRA will continue to create new tools, to review actual processes and provide updates on lessons learned.

The AC, HRB, also provided a high-level update on the Flextime initiative in the Quebec Region. He recalled that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the CRA and the PIPSC-AFS Group was signed on August 23, 2019, and that the CRA committed to piloting an extension of the existing Quebec Region’s Flextime initiative to field workers within the region as well as to introduce the initiative in the Western Region. He then gave a brief history of the Flextime initiative saying that the Flextime initiative had been a long-standing practice in the Quebec Region; in fact, it exists since 1990. A working group, comprised of representatives from the Western Region, Quebec Region, Information Technology Branch (ITB) and HRB, was established to plan and organize the launch of both initiatives. Prior to the launch, updates were provided to AFS, both nationally and regionally. The pilot was set to launch on March 23, 2020. There were 125 AFS members out of 1250 members who had signed up to participate. With COVID, the launch was delayed, given that the majority of the CRA employee population was working remotely under this exceptional circumstance. Also, under the “Flexible Hours Guidelines”, employees on telework are not eligible for flex time. Due to COVID-19, the Quebec Region has also put the Flextime initiative on hold except for those employees reporting to the worksite. He pointed out that in light of the current circumstances, these pilots are under review, and consultation is ongoing to define next steps. He mentioned that the CRA has been holding teleconferences on a monthly basis with AFS representatives to provide updates on the status and ongoing work, and that these conversations will continue in the future with this project.

The President, AFS Group, thanked the AC, HRB, and the Director General of the Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate (WRCD), for taking the time to connect with the AFS Group on a weekly basis, since the start of the pandemic, and discuss concerns brought forward by AFS members. He said that during the recent bargaining round, they consistently spoke about the need for the CRA to provide its employees with the ability to work from home. He commented that the employer refused to bring any telework language into their collective agreement. He added that this resulted in the vast majority of AFS’s members working without any collective agreement protections or clear guidance on what equipment should be provided to teleworkers. He mentioned that much has been done, but they are still waiting for complete guidance on what equipment should be provided to teleworkers, such as cabinets, printers, desks, shredders, and so on. He raised AFS member concerns about the protection of the sensitive information and assets.  He also stated that under Activity Based Workspace, the federal government is still moving to increasingly overcrowded workspaces that may never be safe for full occupancy, because of the proximity of workstations. He noted that, in recent years, there were numerous pandemics (SARS and H1N1), COVID-19 being the biggest one; so putting employees into tighter workspaces is a risk. He remarked that it is not good for employees or anyone to force full re-occupancy of workplaces. For AFS members, telework should be provided for those who want to work from home. He stated that he will continue to push for this in the collective bargaining as in recent rounds.


  1. Issuance of T2200s to employees

The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the status of issuing T2200s Declaration of Conditions of Employment to employees.

The AC, Public Affairs Branch (PAB), provided a high-level update on the Issuance of the T2200s to employees and said that CRA employees are requested to work from home in the context of the pandemic in much greater numbers. That has prompted the CRA to look at the eligibility criteria for the work-space-in-the-home expenses. An important part of the work consists of looking at the T2200 form. The AC, PAB, explained that, consistent with the existing rules, one of the conditions is that the T2200 form must be completed and signed by the employer to enable an employee to claim employment expenses on line 22900. He said that in a context of much greater number of employees applying for this deduction and employers having to process the form for a much greater number of employees, the CRA have been working on simplifying that form. He mentioned that many stakeholders were consulted and involved in the T2200 form simplification exercise, and the focus is to reduce the burden on employers who might have to sign forms for a large number of employees. The AC, PAB, stated that his branch is currently in the process of analyzing the feedback received from all stakeholders and that an announcement to the general public should take place over the next few weeks or months, ideally before filing season, in terms of changes or clarifications to the eligibility criteria and the process for claiming this home expenses deduction. He confirmed that these discussions are ongoing and the union will be kept informed as this file progresses.

The President, AFS Group, mentioned that AFS members are concerned about incurring telework expenses that they might not be able to claim as home office expenses under the current rules. He stated that this is an important issue for all Canadians working from home.


  1. AFS Classification

The President, AFS Group, requested a discussion on the status of AFS classification reform. He said that the NUMCC Classification Working Group presented its final report to the October 2019 NUMCC and noted the following key findings:

  • All standards were found to be outdated. Many of the factors and important issues that are at play in the modern workplace are not considered when evaluating jobs at the CRA.
  • With the exception of MG, none of the standards meet the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) requirements, and working conditions are not measured at all.
  • The members of the working group agreed that the only option to remedy the lack of compliance with the CHRA or the majority of other issues identified by the working group is to undertake a classification reform.

He requested that the CRA take the necessary steps to obtain a mandate for reform which would involve a comprehensive study of all options available. He said that management is conducting a “What we Heard” study on classification and AFS is looking forward to seeing this report. He added that AFS will continue to urge management in taking the necessary steps to update the classification standards for AFS members and bring CRA into compliance with the CHRA.

Addressing the above union concerns, the AC, HRB, mentioned that, as per a previous commitment, the “What we Heard Report” will be shared with AFS once presented to the Planning and Priorities Committee. He said that many findings in the report are directly in line with the conclusions of the NUMCC working group on classification, highlighting the need to modernize our standards and occupational group structure. He pointed out that managers and unions want a classification system that is faster, more responsive, simple to use and administer, and that can deal with the current pace of change. They also want modern evaluation tools that reflect the current and future needs of the CRA. He explained that it will be difficult to solve issues without making fundamental changes to the classification system. The AC, HRB, said that as this is a huge undertaking, the research will be broken down into manageable projects which will be brought to the Corporate Management Committee. These projects/topics may include policy reforms, individual standards/groups, or other findings. He added that the CRA is committed to engaging the bargaining agent in meaningful ways. The AC, HRB, also clarified that even if classification is an exclusive management right and specifically excluded from bargaining, the intent is to continue the cooperation that was established with the NUMCC Sub-Committee on Classification.

The Prairie / North West Territory Region, AFS Representative, said that there has been a lot of research done on this matter and it seems that not much has happened since October 2016, despite AFS’s many requests. He asked what research is left to be done and what timeframes are involved.

The AC, HRB, said that he does not want to undermine the NUMCC sub-committee on Classification. He stated that the work was very productive and provided broader understanding of the issues. Moving on to the next stage, the plan is to present the results and engage senior management on some of the findings. He said that he will be happy to share the “What we Heard Report” with AFS following this discussion. The AC, HRB, also mentioned that additional research will be needed such as cost and organizational impacts, but broader public service initiatives will need to be considered.

The Prairie / North West Territory Region, AFS Representative, replied saying that this means further delays. This file has been delayed since 2012 already and it is long overdue. He also commented that he is not aware of any commitment and that cost should not be an issue to get the proper classification. He thinks that further consultation is required to get things started

The AC, HRB, responded to the Prairie / North West Territory Region, AFS Representative, stating that his comments have been noted.


  1. Cloud Computing

The AC, Information Technology Branch (ITB), provided an update on Cloud Computing. She mentioned that the CRA Cloud Adoption Strategy, endorsed in 2017, depicted the first year of setting up the foundation (i.e. Cloud CoE), followed by a three year window for ‘Early Adoption’ with a view to be fully operating and gaining momentum in year five and beyond. She proudly said that today, they are precisely in year two of the three year ‘early adoption’, Discovery phase, just as planned. She commented that the early investment done to date has already provided the CRA with tangible outputs – as an example, provided an unclassified Innovation Space to play/explore, that resulted in CRA launching an informational call centre for Canadians applying to CRA COVID measures like CERB.

She also explained that leveraging Cloud technologies will increase business agility to innovate ( i.e. we no longer have to wait/order and install hardware to explore or to have access to the latest software services in the market place to experiment). She said with more details that the industry vendors are now focusing on building for public Cloud and many are slowly retreating away from building on premise software offerings (e.g. SAP S4/Hana). For now, and into next fiscal year, the CRA is focused on building a scalable, supportable and secure connection to our existing data centers, before it can fully use Cloud services. The CRA is using four Cloud Pathfinder projects to help assess operation and deployment solutions. This will help the CRA understanding costs, resource capacity/skills, training required, and timelines to start moving workloads effectively into Cloud.

The AC, ITB, informed that ITB has invested in a Cloud Centre of Excellence that will help guide ITB transitioning to Cloud, and this includes providing timely training support for ITB employees who will work with Cloud technologies. She also said that adopting Cloud will impact many areas of IT including Security, Networking, Architecture, Project Management and application development/support.

She further underlined that just like other emerging technology, Cloud is forcing disruptions across the enterprise and will require collaboration to solve business problems with IT solutions. Furthermore, she explained that the existing business processes in respective branches will need to be examined and modified as we learn more about how best to consume and operate Cloud services. The introduction of the IT enablers, in addition to Cloud services, affects all aspects of Service Delivery:

  • Everything from how we fund IT investment projects to how business can explore and innovate to working closer with IT teams on building solutions faster and with more agility with automation (for example, creating a lab environment in the matter of minutes instead of months).
  • The ability to release new functionality faster affects the Release planning/management and how end users will be trained/supported, etc.

She concluded that Cloud services is exciting and offers a lot of possibilities.

The National Capital Region-IT Region, AFS Representative, replied saying that AFS would be interested to see a cost-benefit analysis of using Cloud in comparison with having in-house solution. He also asked if CRA is choosing Cloud Computing solutions because procurement was an issue/roadblock for IT solutions.

The AC, ITB, responded explaining that the CRA chose Cloud, because of its agility. She said that whenever an option analysis is done, different options and costs are part of the project evaluation. She provided further details stating that Shared Services Canada (SSC) establishes the procurement vehicles that are used to facilitate and provide infrastructure capability. Having both an industry direction and a government of Canada direction opens up different opportunities that are not necessarily available to the CRA in its current infrastructure design and that allows the CRA to make a selection that is most appropriate for its business, depending on the business problem the organization is trying to solve.

The President, AFS Group, commented that further consultation is necessary as AFS is concerned about the potential impacts of Cloud Computing on their members, and on the security of taxpayers and employees information.


  1. Discrimination, Harassment, and Workplace Violence

The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the impacts and future steps in the implementation of Bill C-65. He also said that AFS will share its position on the filing of grievances versus following the internal complaint resolution process and provide additional comments on Workplace Violence as the rollout of Bill C-65 takes place at the CRA.

The AC, HRB, provided an update on how CRA plans on implementing changes to the Canada Labour Code due to Bill C-65 and informed that on June 24, 2020, the Labour Program in Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) published the new Harassment and Violence regulations and announced that they would come into force on January 1, 2021. Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), in consultation with bargaining agents, confirmed that they would be releasing a new directive.

He mentioned that the National OHS Section is reviewing its work plan according to the harassment and violence regulations, and also evaluating the potential impact of these requirements on program areas. He stated that once released, a review of the TBS and Labour Program interpretation, policies and guidance documents, will also be required. The National OHS Section also participated on the draft Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention training provided by the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). He said that the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) workplace harassment and violence working group will be discussing the Regulations and will be reviewing the harassment and violence regulations in the context of the potential impact of the new requirements on Labour relations policies and programs. The AC, HRB, explained that policies and processes will be adjusted and aligned as necessary, based on the upcoming changes. On the other hand, he stated that the NHSPC will be kept informed of the progress of this file. Any changes stemming from these new regulations will not impact the grievance process as established in relevant collective agreements.

The President, AFS Group, said that the training provided was outstanding and very well done. He mentioned that when virtual training is done right, it can be extremely high quality and this one is an excellent example.

NCR-IT Region, AFS Representative, mentioned that AFS prefers filing workplace violence complaints instead of filing a discrimination and harassment complaint via the Discrimination and Harassment Center of Expertise. He added, with further details, that based on previous stats provided (2019 to March 31, 2020), out of 168 complaints, 43 were not accepted for investigation, founded complaints were blank. For 2018-2019, out of the 174 complaints, 110 were not accepted, and again founded complaints were blank. That said, the Discrimination and Harassment Center of Expertise is showing that most cases are unfounded. CRA might find that these cases are unfounded, but that does not take away the pain of the membership. He stated that both AFS and UTE will continue to promote workplace violence complaints over the discrimination and harassment process.

The AC, HRB, thanked AFS for the feedback and said that these points have been  noted. He said that he will continue to work with AFS as the CRA moves forward with this file.   


7. Artificial Intelligence

The AC, Service, Innovation and Integration Branch (SIIB), provided an update on Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the CRA. She said that AI has the potential to transform the CRA in many different areas and help improve the CRA’s ability to achieve its mandate and better serve Canadians. The AC, SIIB, confirmed that the CRA is currently exploring AI solutions to enhance client experience, better target activities that detect and deter non-compliance, and optimize the programs and corporate services. One example is Charlie the Chatbot. She explained that given the strategic importance of AI, the CRA developed a plan around six strategic areas to further enable AI at the CRA :

  • Governance;
  • Alignment with priorities;
  • Ethical considerations;
  • Tools & infrastructure;
  • Data; and
  • Human resources.

In this regard, she said that the CRA developed a governance framework to ensure that AI solutions are designed and deployed in a responsible and ethical manner. She also explained that this framework includes a Directive on AI and an online self-assessment tool called the Algorithmic Impact and Alignment Assessment (AIAA). The Directive on AI is aligned with the TBS’s Directive but is augmented with additional risk and alignment considerations that are specific to the CRA. For example, the CRA’s Directive on AI is not limited to AI solutions for external service delivery. The Directive supports responsible and ethical adoption of AI by ensuring that AI solutions are designed and deployed in a manner that maintains the trust of Canadians. The AC, SIIB, recalled that the AIAA tool was created in collaboration with the ITB to meet three main objectives:

  • Ensuring business alignment;
  • Managing risk; and
  • Enabling horizontality.

She stated that a Director General level committee as well as an Assistant Commissioner level committee will provide additional oversight for AI projects deemed high risk. She said that a “soft launch” of the directive took place in September 2020 with the goal of becoming effective in January 2021.

The President, AFS Group, thanked management for this update and said that AFS will follow up with management if they have any further questions or concerns.


  1. Pay-Related Matters

The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the status of the transition to a new pay system. He mentioned that AFS members have been waiting for over four years to have their ongoing Phoenix pay problems resolved and asked when the union can expect the CRA to have a fully functioning pay system in place again. He noted that AFS’s Phoenix Damages compensation covered the period from 2017 through 2020, and, therefore, it would be in the best interests of the CRA to replace Phoenix sooner than later.

The AC, HRB, mentioned that compensation continues to address the backlog of inventory in a positive way, with only 6.6% of CRA employees with an open case over 30 days, as of August 19, 2020. He explained, referring to Maggie Trudel-Maggiore’s email dated of September 21, 2020, that the new Retroactive Redesign solution for the Phoenix pay system will improve the way acting payments are processed and resolve issues in the payments of maternity/parental payments. He stated that this solution will be quicker and more efficient, will have fewer errors and will reduce the amount of manual work done by compensation advisors.

He mentioned that, since the pandemic started, the CRA is continuously looking at ways to facilitate working from home, such as creating electronic forms, with digital signatures, that can be sent through email, and to achieve a paperless environment. The AC, HRB, provided more details on the new pay system saying that in addressing movements to a new pay system or to what is being titled in government as “NextGen” or “HR to Pay System”, as per an announcement from Joyce Murray, Minister associated with this file, a couple of weeks ago, the work has begun on the first pilot associated with one of the three vendors that was qualified, as part of the agile procurement process and in this case that is SAP. The other two vendors that were selected were WorkDay and Ceridian. The first pilot will involve partnered departments; Heritage Canada, along with SSC (the project lead on this file), TBS (the business owner associated with HR to Pay System), and Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) (the service provider). The union will be kept informed and updated as we move forward with this file.  

The President, AFS Group, said that he was pleased to see the announcement on retro pay and hopes to soon see AFS members receive their retro pay for maternity and parental allowances. He mentioned that AFS is also anxious to see the activation of matching (also known as “me too”) clauses for the late implementation of their collective agreement and for Phoenix Damages Leave. He also explained that many AFS members are having difficulties scheduling their vacations during the uncertainty of the pandemic and that the PIPSC Negotiator will be following up with the CRA on the waiver of the carryover limit for vacation at the end of this fiscal year. This waiver has already been granted by the TBS with instructions for PIPSC Negotiators to obtain the same for agencies. Finally, he thanked Mark Muench, Vice-President, AFS Group and CS National Consultation Representative, and Manny Costain, CS Regional Representative and Secretary, for all their work in resolving pay concerns for AFS members, with the help of our CRA Compensation Staff.


  1. Compliance Programs Update

The AC, Compliance Programs Branch (CPB), first thanked Brian Hassall, Headquarters Region, AFS Representative, for all the great exchanges and relationship over the years.

The AC, CPB, then provided an update on the compliance programs activities. He also talked about specific programs, such as GST/HST, saying that roughly seven billion dollars in liquidity got vetted and approved, and employees working from home helped getting money out to Canadians in need. Despite the pandemic, Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) turned around claims faster than the prior year in the non pandemic space. Auditors did very well to focus on their work and getting the high-risk files addressed. He then thanked those who volunteered to work on the phone lines. He also shared some top line messaging from a business resumption perspective. The AC, CPB, also said that the message is to enhance auditor’s discretion and flexibility. This is also a message that AFS members shared: being professionals as Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA), trusting professional judgement, and making sure this is reflected moving forward.

With respect to technology, he explained how auditors are doing their jobs in the current situation: via Emails, cell phones and video conferencing. Long term solutions in development, presently some waiver and temporary decisions; seeking to balance privacy, IT security and Integrating IT tools.

With regards to the Wage Subsidy Audit, he said that forty-four billion was paid out to date, that is roughly one year of corporate tax. He explained that we are doing a phase one of audit to identify the risks, how serious the non-compliance is, and the best way to get it done.

He also announced the creation of AU-02 Auditor level positions within the Large Business Audit Program (LBAP), in the perspective of creating another entry point into the LBAP. This will provide an opportunity for employees to explore the possibility of a career path within the business line earlier in their career along with an enhanced career path. He explained that this addition to the national model positions will help management preparing strategically for overall ILBD succession planning and auditor development. He also said that the regions are in full agreement with moving in this direction to attract audit staff into the LBA program, including internal and external candidates, and that HRB Classification has provided strong support.

The President, AFS Group, said that he wants to ensure that AFS workload is assigned to an AFS member, and noted that while his members are committed to serving Canadians, AFS will hold the employer to their responsibility to protect the health and safety of their members as the CRA resumes normal operations.

The Toronto Region, AFS Representative, asked more information related to the current career path for junior auditors working in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), progressing in the Aggressive Tax Planning (ATP), and continue their career in LBA. He also asked whether reclassifying current AU-03 at the AU-04 level has been considered due to the complexity of the workload instead of bringing new people with the appropriate education but without experience/exposure.

In his response to the AFS Representative, the AC, CPB, explained that it is related to the scope of duties. In LBA, auditors and economists work together. The AU-02 scope of responsibilities is narrow, and they are not left alone to meet with the CFO and the VP tax of large corporations. He also explained that, by doing a small, narrow part of the work on a LBA, over a number of audit cycles, the AU-02 will get more insight around the business and will move up. He also offered to continue this discussion offline and recognized that AFS may have some insights that might be helpful to management.

The President, AFS Group, noted an emerging issue somehow related to the operations area which is the TITUS classification system and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) program as they will restrict necessary communications between members, stewards, employment relations officers (ERO), and management. He said that this is not related to taxpayers’ information, but this is an emerging issue that must be resolved. He also mentioned that further discussions or work need to take place in order to solve this issue.

The Vice-President, AFS Group and CS National Consultation Representative, added that a number of concerns have been raised regarding items that may or may not have the rating of Protected A or B which are sent outside of CRA. He commented that the CRA implemented TITUS which has serious impacts on AFS members. He explained that Protected A or B content information that cannot be shared is an issue for AFS. He asked what is CRA’s action plan. He said that one thing that is very concerning for AFS is that they were told that the DLP tracking system will automatically indicate people who are actually sending information that is Protected A or B, and there may be disciplinary actions against those people who break the rules with regards to classifying information. He also said that management is also sending information that could be considered as Protected A or B outside of CRA to other government departments, agencies or other partners, and that AFS is looking for guidance from management on how the CRA complies with the rules currently in place and how the CRA sees the future.

The AC, ITB, as the head of the branch responsible for the deployment of TITUS and DLP, offered to take this topic offline to discuss the different cases they used to develop the TITUS solution. She said that if adjustments are needed, she is open to further discuss what those might be. With regards to DLP, she said this was in development and some of the issues raised by AFS were likely already addressed at ESDC. She said that she is open to have further discussions with AFS to see how these issues were addressed at ESDC.


Action Items:


  • The AC, CPB offered to have a discussion on the creation of the new AU-02 Auditor level position within the LBA Program and recognized that AFS may have some insights that might be helpful to management.


  • The AC, ITB committed to schedule a meeting with the AFS Group to review all the concerns related to TITUS and also the DLP.


10.  Official Languages

The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the development of activities related to reopening the Directive on Learning.

The AC, HRB, provided an update and said that on many occasions, the question related to employees being asked to give back time spent on language training was raised and as previously discussed at the last NUMCC. He explained that the impact related to removing the possibility for managers to ask employees to put back part of the time spent on language training is being identified. For example, identify in which circumstances and to what extent operational requirements could reduce the amount of employees allowed to participate in language training. We are also reviewing the language training portion of Directive on Learning, in order to reflect a more consistent approach to address various concerns related to the management of the time allowed for language training. Furthermore, we are conducting a review of the Language Training Program, to put a greater emphasis on maintenance, to reinforce the employees’ commitment to maintaining their second official language skills, by taking all opportunities and activities offered in their work environment to practice their second official language. He added that the union will be kept informed on the progress of this file.

The President, AFS Group, said that AFS is currently following up with management on language interpretation for consultations and hope to have this resolved soon.


 11.  Public Service Employee Survey (PSES)

The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the PSES.

The Toronto Region, AFS Representative, mentioned that AFS members are concerned about the data reliability. He said that some branches were more affected than others and regions were also impacted by this due to inconsistencies attributed to several branches and regions. He stated that some branches had a participation rate of over 100%. He said that while AFS understands that Advanis will be used as a service provided for the 2020 PSES, AFS’s members are loosing confidence in completing future surveys, because of inaccurate data for the last two years.

The AC, HRB, recognized that the CRA shares the same level of frustration as many AFS members with respect to this issue and said he was committed to using the PSES to help guide the CRA’s policies and initiatives. He mentioned that due to data validation issues, the 2018 PSES results were made available at the CRA level only. He explained that in February 2020, while validating the organizational unit results, it quickly became apparent that, similar to the previous year, employees recoded their organizational unit to an area of the CRA where it was unlikely that they worked. The AC, HRB, said that the red flag for this actually came from the Audit Evaluation and Risk Branch (AERB) where the number of respondents was almost 50% greater than the number of employees working in that branch. He explained in full details that the CRA has worked closely with the TBS and Advanis, and observed that regional employees were moving themselves under program branches. It is not surprising that branches which names contained “audit”, “collection”, “appeals”, and “compliance” – tasks performed by regional employees – have been more impacted. Because of this, some of the program branch data was highly inaccurate. A decision has been made to choose whether or not branches or regional results would be published on their respective InfoZone page. This approach allowed each area to post their data – or not – with tailored messaging to explain the unique impacts of the organizational unit re-coding issue in their respective area. It was also decided that for the 2019 PSES, the organizational results would not be posted externally on the TBS website – only the CRA-level results. Given the complex nature of the problem, he felt this was the best approach given the uneven impacts of the organization unit problem across the CRA. He was happy to say that most branches and regions did post their 2019 PSES results. He mentioned that the CRA made progress since the 2018 PSES and that the actions that have been taken allowed senior management to be in a better situation to share the results at all levels of the organization.

As for the next steps, the AC, HRB, said that he continues to work closely with TBS and Advanis on the 2020 PSES, which will be launched from November 30, 2020 to January 22, 2021. He explained that this year’s survey will focus on important themes including workplace well-being, organizational performance, duty to accommodate, diversity and inclusion, and the impact COVID-19 has had on employees. For the 2020 PSES, to further mitigate the risk of employees incorrectly identifying their work unit, TBS will hopefully add a “pop up” to the 2020 questionnaire. This will advise employees not to change their pre-populated work unit unless they changed jobs at some point in the previous three months. He mentioned that as with previous years, employees will also have the option to report their work unit at higher level (i.e. CRA, branch/region). These measures are in addition to the pre-populated approach used in 2019, where organizational units were pre-populated for respondents, up to their directorate/TSO. He stated that the CRA is also working on communications products to explain to employees the importance of the impact that the organizational structure has on the survey results and expressed the confidence that these new measures will make this step of the questionnaire clearer for employees.

The AC, HRB, also explained that due to the limits imposed by the COVID-19, paper questionnaires will not be available for the 2020 PSES. Telephone surveys will be offered to people who do not have access to their government emails and that a unique link could be sent to employees via their personal email addresses. He concluded by saying that beyond the 2020 PSES, the CRA is looking at options to ensure reliable results at the lowest organizational unit possible, while still protecting respondent’s privacy. The ultimate goal is to use the survey results to drive positive and needed change. He finally noted that work will continue with the CRA Champion for the PSES, AC, AERB.

The President, AFS Group, mentioned that AFS does appreciate the efforts made by the CRA to fix the data corruption issues and highlighted the fact that these problems did not occur with Statistics Canada. AFS urged the CRA and the federal government to return to Statistics Canada in the future.

The Toronto Region, AFS Representative, asked if there is going to be a change of service provider once the contract with Advanis expires. He also asked if the data reliability issue was due to errors related to employees’ entry or to service provider’s lack of flexibility with regards to recoding the data while complying with privacy rules.

The AC, HRB, answered the AFS Representative by acknowledging that employee’s recoding is the initial issue. He said that the CRA recognizes that some people do move between the time the poll is done and the time the survey is completed, but this is only a small percentage of the overall population. With regards to the second element, there are no provisions under the contract to allow the service provider to recode. In regards of ‘’returning to Statistics Canada’’ as raised by the President, AFS Group the AC, HRB commented that the CRA does understand that they were well served under Statistics Canada; however, it is TBS’s responsibility, unless CRA chose to go out on its own. He mentioned that the CRA is exploring all avenues at this point to get more reliable data.


12.  Service by Design

The AC, Service Integration and Innovation Branch (SIIB), provided an update on the work being accomplished by the Chief Service Officer (CSO). She mentioned that lots have been done, since the last meeting in October 2019, to move forward on the CRA’s transformation journey to become more people centric. In particular, the Agency published the report titled Serving Canadians Better Consultation in December 2019 and launched its People First Philosophy externally at the beginning of the 2020 tax filing season. In particular, the CRA publicly committed to three outcomes:

  1. Making information more helpful and easier to understand – The tax system is complex, but easier to interact with. It will be easier to file taxes, apply for benefits and generally interact with us. By providing clear, accurate, consistent, and timely information and support, it should be easier to meet one’s tax obligations.
  2. Providing more convenient access to services and support – Making the CRA more accessible to Canadians. The Agency strive for service that is personal, tailored, and digital-first.
  3. Ensure Canadians feel understood, respected, and valued – The CRA will better understand the people it serves. Showing Canadians that the CRA services and programs are fair and responsive to their needs and preferences.

The AC, SIIB, said the pandemic provided the CRA with the platform to test and embody CRA People First philosophy, and demonstrated CRA’s agility, innovation, and dedication to service. By responding to the needs of Canadians with an empathetic approach, CRA employees were able to come together to meet the unprecedented needs of Canadians and of each other. To support CRA employees and further develop the Agency’s culture of service, an empathy awareness campaign was developed and launched to better understand the underlying needs and feelings of each other and CRA clients, and better integrate empathy in CRA’s interactions, internally and externally. The campaign encompasses:

  • Virtual workshops to help employees at all levels identify their client and “put themselves in their shoes”;
  • Information presentation to support internal messaging and help with engagement and education efforts; and
  • Web page with relevant information, workshop details, stories, and feedback mechanism.

She also said that Service Council meetings are resuming and members will continue to play a key role in supporting CRA’s engagement and awareness efforts across the organization, including those associated with empathy. She informed that work is being done with the Service Council to continue to find ways to ‘make transformation real’ for employees. This includes a new initiative designed to better understand employees’ current experience and how it is expected to change with the service transformation, in order to define the employee experience of the future, and tailor our messages and approaches.

She mentioned that the CRA is currently looking at reviving some of client experience (CX) initiatives, while adapting to the new virtual environment. In November 2019, a SR&ED design jam session was hosted to look at ways to simplify the claim process and strengthen the relationship between claimants and the CRA. This session resulted in a partnership between SR&ED and digital services teams to build the prototypes designed during the session. Work is also being done to launch the first virtual design jam session on Canada Child Benefit (CCB) later this fall in order to better understand and improve the experience of undergoing a CCB review.

She also said that the end-of-life tax journey project is resuming to better understand and improve the end-to-end journey of first-time executors and tax professionals as they navigate the process of fulfilling a deceased individual’s tax obligations. The goal is to make this process simpler for those who need to navigate it, improving the experience of Canadians who are going through a tremendously difficult time in their lives. She mentioned that ethnographic research and analysis are being used, which provides insights into human experiences and behaviours, as a complement to helping the CRA understanding its clients and help the Agency become a more service oriented and empathetic organization. She explained that in recent years, the CRA performed ethnographic research and analysis on:

  • Small businesses in Kensington Market (2017);
  • Homeless and housing-insecure Canadians’ experiences with filing taxes and accessing benefits (2018); and
  • Vulnerable newcomers’ experiences with taxes and benefits (2019).

The AC, SIIB, confirmed that the CRA is currently finalizing a new ethnographic research report on seniors’ experiences with retirement finances, taxes and benefits, and working collaboratively with CRA stakeholders to address possible recommendations.

She explained that the client experience index measures the overall client experience with CRA service offerings in terms of client experience quality (ease, effectiveness, emotions) and customer loyalty (compliance, expansion and advocacy). It helps the CRA better understand its overarching relationship with Canadians when it comes to providing positive service experiences.

The President, AFS Group, commented that AFS is looking forward to continuing consultations on this initiative.


13.  Staffing

The President, AFS Group, indicated that he had requested a discussion on permanent staffing during the pandemic and the use of non-advertised staffing processes.

The Ontario Region, AFS Representative and Treasurer, mentioned that having the right people in the right jobs is of an extreme importance. He said that last year, management made the decision to remove “Advertised staffing as the preferred method of staffing at the CRA” and that AFS finds this decision to be puzzling. AFS does not see how going to non-advertised staffing can display transparency and staffing by merit. He mentioned that non-advertised staffing for permanent staffing is taking the place of staffing competitions and advertised staffing at an alarming rate. AFS asked management to explain why the use of non-advertised staffing is significant. He said that AFS members and CRA employees will lose faith in the staffing regime if it gives the appearance of favouritism rather than being open, transparent, and fair for everyone. He also asked that management recommits to having advertised staffing as the preferred method of staffing at the CRA, and that non-advertised staffing be used only in very exceptional cases, and that those cases are explained to the union representatives ahead of the staffing actions.

The AC, HRB, explained that the past few months have definitely challenged the way staffing is done at the CRA. At the onset of the pandemic, an exception to the Procedures for recourse on staffing was put in place from March 13, 2020 to August 17, 2020, essentially putting recourse on hold. He said that this exception was made to ensure that all parties involved in recourse had the opportunity to participate in a meaningful way. This exception also included the hold on recourse for permanent staffing actions. He happily reported that for all 169 permanent promotions that took place during that time, recourse was offered where required. The other staffing actions that took place during the time the exception was in place were not eligible for recourse. He confirmed that with the pandemic still raging, the CRA continues to explore remote options for staffing to ensure that recourse remains relevant to employees.

The AC, HRB, mentioned that as part of the Staffing Redesign Project, further guidance is being developed for managers to help ensure the use of non-advertised appointments is aligned with the CRA staffing principles. He explained that looking at the most recent non-advertised appointments report as of June 30, 2020, which was shared with AFS at the beginning of September, from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 the overall use of non-advertised appointments has increased from 34% to 42%. This increase is relatively consistent across all types of appointments. In terms of permanent appointments, the most significant changes are mainly located in Headquarters and appear to be largely focused on recruiting specialized skills. He commented that the first quarter of 2020-2021 was an unprecedented time at the CRA and across the Government. He also said that this period saw a decrease in the overall number of appointments. Advertised appointments, in particular, were down by 69%, compared to the last fiscal year. At the same time, ITB completed a large number of non-advertised “Term to Perm” appointments. This combination has led to an across-the-board increase in the percentage of non-advertised appointments, which CRA will be monitoring as the Agency moves forward with business resumption. He concluded by saying that as always, the CRA is committed to ensuring that its Staffing Program is guided by the following five staffing principles: adaptability, efficiency, fairness, productiveness and transparency.

The President, AFS Group, commented that AFS does not see non-advertised staffing as being about term to perm conversions or staffing hard to fill positions, but they are concerned about it being used routinely for regular staffing.


14.  CRA National Employment Equity and Diversity Committee (NEEDC)

The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the CRA NEEDC Framework and action plan.

The AC, HRB, mentioned that recent events in the media have put a spotlight on issues surrounding systemic racism and discrimination. He stated that the CRA engaged in numerous informative meetings with NEEDC, including AFS’s representative, and chairs of the employee networks. He informed that general communications were shared with employees encouraging them to share their lived experiences and offer any suggested solutions to their National Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion representatives. He shared that the insights and the feedback received from employees set the foundation for a holistic approach to influencing a sustainable change.

He said that both the draft Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Framework, and the Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism action plan are a result of those consultations. He explained that the CRA embarked on an extensive consultative process to further its work related to diversity and inclusion. This extensive consultative process allowed to identify barriers to diversity, inclusion at the CRA, and develop initiatives to reduce or eliminate those barriers and address racism. The foundational Framework and the corresponding action plan are the result of those consultations. Speaking of the principles on which the Framework is based, he listed the following:

  • CRA employees are valued, respected and heard.
  • CRA career development, training, mentoring and employment opportunities are accessible to all employees.
  • CRA support its employees to be the best they can be.
  • CRA words and actions are inclusive.
  • CRA will not tolerate any form of harassment or discrimination.

Providing further details about the above Framework, the AC, HRB, said that the Framework specifies senior management's commitment to creating an inclusive workplace where employees feel welcomed, safe and supported and where the different perspectives, ideas, life experiences, skills and knowledge of employees are valued. It identifies roles and responsibilities at all levels of the CRA and includes employee networks and capitalizes also on the strong partnership with the national unions. Finally, the Framework establishes management accountability under four areas of action:

  • Awareness, Learning and Engagement;
  • Recruitment and Staffing;
  • Inclusion; and
  • Retention.

He added that these areas of action serve as the main themes for the CRA 2020-2023 Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Action Plan - Taking Action Together! Each of the four themes has established goals which help define the objectives under the four themes:

  • Awareness, Learning and Engagement
    • To increase awareness to overcome prejudices and expand cultural competency.
  • Recruitment and Staffing
    • To ensure employees and prospective employees have an equitable opportunity for employment and career development.
  • Inclusion
    • To foster an inclusive, respectful and healthy workplace.
  • Retention
    • To provide increased support for career development while ensuring sustainable retention.

He pointed out that some of these activities will be dealt with in the short term; others, will take longer, but it remains a CRA-wide perspective to ensure a comprehensive and holistic approach to diversity and inclusion and fight against racism. He said that consultations are ongoing so there may be changes to the action plan as we move forward. He concluded by highlighting the significant contribution that has been made by Al Ravjiani, Toronto Region, AFS Representative, with respect to this file.

The President, AFS Group, commented that AFS certainly agrees on the importance of this work and recognized the great work Al Ravjiani has done on this portfolio. He welcomed Simon Chiu as the new AFS national lead on Employment Equity and Diversity.


Closing Remarks

In his closing remarks, the Commissioner, stated that a lot has been learned through the pandemic, especially that the work can be performed remotely. CRA also demonstrated that the organization is agile, flexible, and able to take decision in a fairly rapid manner. However, the Commissioner recognized being aware of the different challenges that remain ahead of the CRA and that there is a need to seize the opportunities that have allowed the organization to improve. Referring to the earlier discussion on TITUS, he said that there is a need to work through all of the practical implications and tweaks might be needed and it will require dialogue. He also talked about the PSES and how the CRA is trying to find solutions, trying to work with TBS for future PSES. He concluded by saying that the Diversity and Inclusion topic is an extremely important one for the CRA. He mentioned that not everything will be done in the short term, but there is an interest to understand issues and come up with solutions.

The President, AFS Group, concluded by thanking everyone for their participation in the meeting, and noted again the importance of moving forward on classification reform due to the many questions received from union members.




Bob Hamilton


Canada Revenue Agency




Doug Mason


Audit, Financial and Scientific Group

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada


Date: April 22, 2021