CRA helpline gets another poor grade from CFIB

Ottawa, January 26, 2017 – Third time is not the charm for the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Business Enquiries phone line. As part of its Red Tape Awareness WeekTM, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has conducted its third “secret shopper” evaluation of the CRA’s call center, giving it a grade of C-.

“Small business owners have to deal with CRA quite a bit throughout the year,” said CFIB Vice-President, National Affairs, Monique Moreau. “Making sure they get accurate and timely answers is key to fulfilling their legal and fiscal requirements efficiently so that they can spend more time doing business and contributing to Canada’s economy.”

Here is the breakdown of that overall C- grade:

  • Accountability (A+): CFIB saw a laudable increase in agents providing their name and agent identification number
  • Accuracy of Information (D-): In total, only 69 per cent of inquiries resulted in complete and accurate answers. This is a decrease from the 2012 survey, where 76 per cent all responses were complete. A third of callers are still receiving incorrect or insufficient information.
  • Connecting to an Agent (F): The lackluster evaluation was for the most part due to the high number of calls that did not reach a CRA agent – nearly 30 per cent. On many occasions, the callers simply couldn’t get past the busy signals. The number of calls that were unsuccessful at reaching an agent is up a discouraging 50 per cent since 2012
  • Wait Time (B+): Once in the queue, callers waited only two minutes on average, which is the goal set out by the CRA service standard.
  • Agent Professionalism (C-): While the vast majority of agents tried their best to answer our questions, some put little effort into answering our questions clearly and correctly. Some agents simply read the answer off of the website, while others directed the caller to the webpage without providing a verbal answer. Agents should give clear and concise responses to questions and provide examples to ensure that callers have a good understanding of the answer.

“It’s concerning that, of the calls that got through to the call centre, only 69 per cent of inquiries resulted in complete and accurate answers. This is frustrating for many small business owners who simply want to comply with the tax code and get on with running their businesses,” stated Moreau.

“The CRA helpline needs to find ways to offer better service to business owners. We do applaud the government’s investments in the call centre from Budget 2016 but encourage them to continue making good customer service a priority. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with CRA on call center improvements.”


CFIB employees across Canada took part in the survey to test the level of service provided by CRA agents. Overall, 224 calls were made to the CRA call centre from the end of June to mid-July, 2016. CFIB callers used four standardized questions that reflected common questions asked by business owners. Read the full report.

About Red Tape Awareness Week

Government red tape is a hidden tax affecting Canada’s small businesses much more than larger firms. Between Jan 23-27, CFIB presents the 8th edition of Red Tape Awareness Week to look at which governments are making progress and which are lagging when it comes to cutting through unnecessary rules and paperwork for entrepreneurs. The annual cost of all regulations on businesses in Canada is pegged at $37 billion per year, with one-third ($11 billion) considered red tape, according to a 2015 CFIB report.

For more information about Red Tape Awareness Week, please visit

To arrange an interview with Monique Moreau, please contact Kiara Morrissey at 416-222-8022, 647-464-2814 or

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 109,000 members across every sector and region.