Canadians who call the Canada Revenue Agency looking for help have up to a 13% chance of receiving inaccurate information, a quality assurance audit found.
The figure was acknowledged by National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier in an Inquiry of Ministry tabled this week, first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.
Lebouthillier wrote that an independent team audits approximately 12,000 CRA customer service calls for accuracy each year.
“Each call is assessed for information accuracy by certified listeners,” she wrote.
“For the team to score a call as complete and accurate, the agent’s response must directly address the caller’s enquiry or issue and provide the caller with enough information to enable them to take appropriate actions or make informed decisions.”
The inaccuracy rate varied wildly between different call centres. While the Calgary and St. John’s centres had an inaccuracy rate of 3%, the centre in Toronto gave inaccurate responses 13% of the time.
In a previous statement, CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton said the agency is not responsible for any financial consequences stemming from bad advice.
The agency has seen a massive increase in calls over the past year as Canadians used a wide variety of pandemic benefits which each have different tax implications.
In February, the CRA reported that the average wait time calling the agency had increased to 25 minutes, with it common to wait hours to speak to an agent at peak hours.
The wait leads to many people simply hanging up. Of the roughly 32 million calls made in an average year, just 12.7 million resulted in the caller speaking with an agent.
The CRA began independent audits following a 2017 auditor general report which found that accuracy rates were up to ten-times higher than what the agency claimed.
Then-auditor general Michael Ferguson said at the time that agents would give incorrect answers to basic questions 30 to 84% of the time.