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Response to Parliamentary Committees and External Audits

Response to Parliamentary Committees
1. Government Responses (GR) are requested by Parliamentary Committees under House of Commons Standing Order 109 or under Rules of the Senate 131(2). Such requests are included in the reports tabled by the respective Parliamentary Committee.
In fiscal year 2007-2008, the Minister of National Revenue tabled the following comprehensive GR to a report from a Parliamentary Committee, on behalf of the Government:
Report 9 – Parliamentary Review of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Act: A Value Proposition or a Failed Experiment? (Adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance on December 12, 2006; Presented to the House on December 13, 2006)
Government Response: Ninth Report of the Standing Committee on Finance, “Parliamentary Review of the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency Act: A Value Proposition or a Failed Experiment” (Presented to the House on April 4, 2007)
(NB: As the committee's report was tabled during fiscal year 2006-2007, this information was previously included in the 2006-2007 Canada Revenue Agency Annual Report to Parliament.)
2. It is important to note, however, that in fiscal year 2007-2008, the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Public Accounts (referred to in Parliament as “PACP”) undertook two separate initiatives related to the practice of seeking “follow-up” information (referred to herein as ‘status reports') further to GRs previously tabled in Parliament:
  • a study to follow-up on past PACP Recommendations; and
  • the Committee's Sixth Report entitled “Departmental Answers to Questions About Government Responses (39th Parliament)” (tabled February 25th, 2008).
Within this framework, on an exceptional basis, the PACP Chair twice contacted the CRA via written correspondence in order to obtain current status reports to GRs previously tabled with PACP. These status reports are not GRs per se, but as they stem from previous GRs they have been included below.
(NB: The Government's position toward these exceptional requests was later articulated in a GR tabled by the President of the Treasury Board. Please see item 3. for further clarification.)
  • Letter dated August 20, 2007, from the Chair of the PACP to the Commissioner of the CRA, requesting a status report on the progress further to its GR to the Committee's Seventh Report (“Canada Revenue Agency – Collection of Tax Debt”).
    • Though the original request was terminated with the prorogation of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, on September 14, 2007, on the resumption of Parliamentary business, the Committee renewed its interest/request on January 28, 2008.
    • The CRA provided its status report on February 22, 2008.
  • Letter dated March 13, 2008, from the Chair of the PACP to the Minister of National Revenue, requesting a status report further to the GR concerning recommendations in the Twenty-third Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts – Chapter 7 of the Auditor General's December 2001 Report (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency – International Tax Administration: Non-Residents Subject to Canadian Income Tax). In this letter by the Committee Chair to the CRA, reference is also made to the Auditor General's February 2007 Status Report.
    • The CRA provided the committee with the requested status report on May 30, 2008.
3. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the President of the Treasury Board tabled the GR to the Sixth Report (in July 2008), in which reference is made to the above-noted practice of the Committee Chair contacting Deputy Heads directly for status reports relating to GR. The Government noted that:
“…Government Responses are tabled in Parliament by the responsible Minister or Ministers and represent the collective position taken by the Government as a whole and as such are approved by Cabinet through its collective decision-making process. While public servants are often able to assist the Committee's evaluation of a Government Response by providing relevant information of a technical or factual nature, the Government believes it would not be appropriate to ask these officials to address perceived inadequacies with the positions taken in the Response. Rather, such requests are properly addressed to Ministers. The Government very much appreciates the recent correspondence from the Chair of the Committee indicating that future “follow-up” requests from the Committee will be directed to Ministers, and thanks the Committee for addressing its concerns on this point.”
4. In 2007-2008, various Parliamentary Committees did table reports wherein the CRA is mentioned. These include:
The Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Final Report on: The Enquiry on the Funding for the Treatment of Autism (March 29, 2007)
Recommendation G: “The Department of Finance and the Revenue Canada Agency study the implications of income splitting for ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorders] families and issue a report to the Minister of Finance by June 2008.”
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (PACP)
Sixth Report (Departmental Answers to Questions About Government Responses) – Tabled February 25, 2008
Recommendations: This report reviewed the performance of certain government departments, including the CRA, in fulfilling recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts over the course of the 37th and 38th Parliaments. There are four recommendations that relate to the CRA. For full recommendations please see link below.
Government Response (presented July 16, 2008 by the President of the Treasury Board)
Eleventh Report (The Public Accounts of Canada 2007) – Tabled March 5, 2008
Recommendation 2: “The Canada Revenue Agency modify its tax revenue estimation methodology by 30 September 2008. If this cannot be done by this date, the Canada Revenue Agency should explain to the Public Accounts Committee the reasons for the inability to meet this deadline and provide the Committee with a date by which this modification will be done.”
Government Response (presented July 16, 2008 by the President of the Treasury Board)
Response to the Auditor General
Canada Revenue Agency – Technical Training and Learning
Federal Loans and Grants for Post-Secondary Education—Human Resources and Social Development Canada and Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation