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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Stop the Discrimination by Revenue Canada- CCTB

While many Canadians know that dealing with Revenue Canada can be a pain in the butt, and that dealing with the Canadian Child Tax Benefit people can be especially frustrating, they may not realize the just how far this agency will go to make life a living hell.

Twice in the past 4 years I've gone head to head with the CCTB offices. Once for a claim they'd made against me for no reason,  and once when they spent 7 months giving me the run around and making me jump through hoops when our second youngest son was born.  After 7 months of complete and utter frustration, I finally called up the offices of the Minister of Finance in Ottawa.  I lucked out and somehow got a hold of the Aide to the Minister himself and was able to tell him the entire sordid tale.... miraculously, 24 hours later I got a call from the manager from the local  Revenue Canada office and 5 days after that I had a cheque for the entire 7 months of back payments of missing CCTB cheques.

The noisy hinge gets the oil.

Last week a friend of mine sent me a link to a group on Facebook called "Stop The Discriminatory CTB Review" that grabbed my interest, so I clicked over to see what the group was about.  While I was absolutely no stranger to the never ending frustration of dealing with Revenue Canada, what I discovered really rattled me.  This is what Amber, owner of the Facebook page, wrote:

How The Canadian Child Tax Benefit Review Is DiscriminatoryThe CRA is conducting and has been conducting reviews of random families recieveing CTB. This review asks that you show various forms of proof that your child(ren) lived with you for specific tax years. They allow a month to provide the letters necessary, failing to provide exactly what they ask for results in you owing back the CTB for that tax year or not recieveing retro-payment. The specific requirements are: A letter from an authorized daycare, A letter from your child's school as well as a letter from your family Dr. or Dentist naming the dates your child was seen and the address at which they lived spanning the ENTIRE (the review itself put that in bold) year under review. Families who cannot provide the following required letters are as follows:...-Parents who choose to stay at home with thier children and not send them to daycare.-Parents who choose an unauthorized daycare provider (family member or friend)-Parents who home educate-Parents who choose not to or due to allergies are unable follow the regular vaccine schedule-Families who do not have a family doctors and only bring their child(ren) to the dentist every 6 months as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association. -Families who choose a Naturopathic doctor as their primary healthcare provider-Families who do not have dental insurance and recieve dental care through a free dental clinic I am currently working on a letter to Tony Clement describing (using statistics Canada) how the strict criteria for proving that your children lived with you for a specific tax year, is not only discriminatory, but also guarantees a large amount of savings in CTB pay out for our federal government. If you know of any families currently under going this "review" or simply believe that this is a discrimnatory review please send them to this group and join it yourselves.

Amber has written an excellent letter to Minister Tony Clement, asking that he, and our government, address this blatant discrimination against families in Canada.  I would like to encourage everyone to send a copy of this letter, or write your own, to the Hon. Tony Clement, and to all your local MPs and MPPs.  Our Canadian Government needs to hear the voices of those that are being discriminated against and the voices of Canadians in support of these necessary changes.

The CRA Ombudman's office has stated that their office will not handle these concerns however the Canadian Human Rights Commission  can, and The Minister of Finance- This situation should/could be considered a "systemic" complaint, this link will take you directly to the comments form. It can be filled out with your own words, or use the letter below.

To The Honourable Tony Clement:
I have recently read the request for information for the Canada Revenue Agency’s Canadian Child Tax Benefit Review, and I am deeply concerned about the strict and discriminatory criteria for proving that one’s child lived with them during the year under review. I am also disturbed that the review appears to be an accusation of tax fraud, with monetary consequences and not criminal, as such, the burden of proof rests on the accused. For clarity, all quotes from the CCTB review documents will be in bold.
The strict and in some situations, impossible to provide, requirements are as follows:
In the proof of residency:
“If you are the owner of your residence, provide your property tax bill(s) for each year under review. Your property tax bill must include your full name, the address of the property and the year” What if the house is only in the spouses’ name and therefore the property tax bill does not include the name of the member of the family that receives CCTB?
“In addition to either A) or B) please provide one of the following documents”
“C) Mortgage papers” Mortgage may not be in the name of CCTB recipient
“D ) Insurance policies” CCTB receiver may not have insurance of any kind in their name.
“E) Household bills…Please provide TWO of these documents per year for each year under review.” People renting in all-inclusive situations and only using cell phones could not provide this information. Also the parent receiving CCTB, may not have utility bills in their name.
The discriminatory requirements are as follows:
"Please provide documentation from TWO of the following sources for each child to support the ENTIRE period under review” (please note: all uppercase print exists on original document)
“A) A copy of the child’s registration/enrollment document or information/emergency contact sheet. It must be signed and certified by the school to be a true copy.” According to the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents, the number for Canada as a whole is estimated at approximately 60,000 homeschooled children.
“B) A letter from the daycare or school authorities which includes the following information from their files…” According to Statistics Canada, General Social Survey: Navigating Family Transitions, published Wednesday June 13th 2007: “23% of parents who took leave did not reintegrate into the labour market…24% who did not return to work said it was for financial reasons, that childcare services were too expensive to be worth the cost” Also, Statistics Canada article, Women in Canada: Paid Work. Published December 9th, 2010, stated : “The employment rate for women with children under the age of 3 was 64.4%” That leaves a percentage of 36.6% who did not need a regular daycare provider. I think we can agree that this is a significant amount of families that cannot possibly provide the required documents.
“C) Report card(s) for each year under review, only if they include the child’s home address, attendance record and guardian’s name.” see OFTP estimate of homeschooled children above.
“D) A letter from your family doctor or dentist confirming the child is under the doctor’s or dentist’s care and indicating the home address on their file for the child. The letter must contain the dates that the child was seen by them and must cover the entire period under review. The letter must be on letterhead and must be signed by the doctor or dentist…” “More than 1 quarter of those aged 20-34 were without a regular medical doctor…in comparison 1in 5 Canadians aged 35-44 (18%) …were without a regular family doctor…” – Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey (correction) published June 21st, 2011. These are the age groups who are currently raising families. I do not believe it is an unfair assumption that many of the children of these adults who do not have family physicians also are without a family physician themselves. Which leaves a letter from a dentist as proof of the child living with the CCTB recipient: “The letter must contain the dates that the child was seen by them and must cover the entire period under review” The Canadian Dental Association recommends: “…a dental exam every six months will let your child’s dentist catch small problems early.” Unless, the child(ren) is suffering from serious dental problems there is no way, with a letter from the dentist, that a family could provide the documents that cover the entire period under review, as requested by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Finally according to the CRA’s CTTB review: “If you do not reply or do not provide the requested information and supporting documentation, we will stop or revise your payments. You may also be required to repay amounts already received” Families who cannot provide the requested documentation and therefore may have their CCTB payments stopped, revised be forced to repay amounts received are as follows:
-Families with a stay at home parent, who choose not to send their children to a daycare center.
-Families who home educate.
-Families without a family doctor
-Families in which the CCTB recipient is unemployed or chooses not to be responsible for utilities and therefore has no bills in his/her name.
-Families who live in “utilities included” housing.
There is a large amount of families in this constituency and all over Canada, that fall under the descriptions above, please do not let this discriminatory review deprive them of much needed CCTB.
Thanking you in advance for your swift action to protect this financial income for the families in your constituency,

To send an email to Tony Clement-

To find your local MP:

As I have said over and over, the only way we can make change happen is to stand up and speak out.  Please, take 15 minutes out of your busy schedule and let your voice be heard!!!