Evidence of meeting #127 for Finance in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was commissioner.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bob Hamilton  Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Revenue Agency
Frank Vermaeten  Assistant Commissioner, Assessments, Benefits, and Services Branch, Canada Revenue Agency
Ted Gallivan  Assistant Commissioner, International, Large Business and Investigations Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

I'm sorry, Commissioner, but I know the minister said she had to leave soon.

Go ahead, Mr. Albas.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Minister, when asked about Bronfman's links to the Cayman Islands tax evasion scheme, the Prime Minister said, and I quote, “We have received assurances that all rules were followed...and we are satisfied with those assurances.”

Minister, do you agree with the Prime Minister?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

What I can tell you is that it's totally ridiculous to say that the Prime Minister will interfere in cases that fall under the Canada Revenue Agency.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Do you agree with the statement, yes or no?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I'm saying that it's ridiculous to say that the Prime Minister will interfere in cases that fall under the Canada Revenue Agency.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

You realize the Prime Minister speaks for the government. The Prime Minister is the one who appointed you to your position, Minister. Is what the Prime Minister has said to the public a statement you agree with, yes or no?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

It's ridiculous to say that the Prime Minister will interfere in cases that fall under the Canada Revenue Agency. We will let the revenue agency do its job.

All the information about the Paradise Papers is taken very seriously by the agency. If any charges need to be laid, it will certainly not be up to any parliamentarian to do so.

November 23rd, 2017 / 4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

I asked a very simple question. If she wants to say the same thing over and over, I'll change my tactic.

Mr. Hamilton, thanks for the work you do on behalf of Canadians. In 2013, the Auditor General said that CRA did a very good job during the Liechtenstein list and that you tackled it appropriately. I hope that you are given the same kind of support in your current endeavours, that there's quite a wide web cast by papers such as the paradise papers, and that you follow through with that.

In regard to the committee you said you set up regarding the disability tax credit, Commissioner, does that committee have operational oversight?

4:35 p.m.

Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Hamilton

No, that committee won't have operational oversight. We're still working on the terms of reference precisely, but it will be to advise us on administrative issues, such as how we can better communicate and some of the emerging issues out there that we need to start thinking about.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

It's consultation only, then. They will be giving input to how the CRA conducts itself, but won't have any operational or tribunal-like function for appeals. Is that correct?

4:35 p.m.

Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Hamilton

No, they provide advice.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

For the people who are currently being ruled ineligible for the disability tax credit, they would not be able to appeal to this committee for any help.

4:35 p.m.

Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Hamilton

No. They could communicate with the committee, but the committee wouldn't have any role in deciding. The committee could come to us and say this is what we—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

My concern, Commissioner, is that the disability tax credit allows you to become eligible for the registered disability savings plan, and next year, 2018, is the first year that people can start to withdraw from that. If someone is ruled ineligible for the DTC, then they are no longer eligible for the registered disability savings plan. Is that correct, yes or no?

4:35 p.m.

Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Hamilton

Yes. One of the conditions of being eligible for the registered disability savings plan is that you have to be eligible for the DTC.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

If you get ruled ineligible for the DTC and become ineligible for the registered disability savings plan, the grants that the government has put into that RDSP are then clawed back into general revenue. Is that correct?

4:35 p.m.

Commissioner of Revenue and Chief Executive Officer, Canada Revenue Agency

Bob Hamilton

In terms of the specific operations of the RDSP, despite the fact that I was at the Department of Finance when we set that up, I can't remember the precise rules, but I know that my colleague Frank Vermaeten, who will be here in the second hour, may be able to explain that.

In a sense, you become ineligible and then there's a process by which you wind down over time, although I would say that if you are judged ineligible, but you make the case and become eligible again, then there's a process for making sure that does not get—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

My last question just—

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We're done.

The minister didn't finish her response to your earlier question before you cut her off.

Madam Minister, do you have anything more to add in your response to the question on the Prime Minister's statement?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Yes.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

If you do, the floor is yours. You were cut off.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I would like to add something about the disability tax credit. By dismantling the important disability advisory committee, your government deprived the disabled, those who protect their rights and professionals in the area of the opportunity to share their opinions in order to better guide the agency's decisions. The disability advisory committee, which we have reinstated, will be a major tool for the agency. We must continue to work with our partners.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

We'll have to cut you both off there.

Ms. O'Connell, you have the last question.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Jennifer O'Connell Liberal Pickering—Uxbridge, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you all for being here today.

Actually, my question was exactly leading up to where the minister left off and to Mr. Albas's point. Had the Conservatives not cut the advisory committee and we had begun to get wind of concerns or interpretation changes, it could have been exactly that advisory committee that could have looked at this, could have looked at the technologies, and could have advised the CRA before it became an issue and got to this level, to the point where now the CRA is manually going through, what, 7,500 personal cases? The advisory committee could have been looking at, for the last number of years, since the Conservatives cut it, the effect of new technologies on how it implements that 14-hour criterion, or maybe made recommendations to change legislation, keeping in mind the new changes in technology.

My question is, how much did the Conservatives save by getting rid of the advisory committee that could have helped prevent this in the first place?

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Diane Lebouthillier Liberal Gaspésie—Les-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Since our government took office, the public has been at the heart of its concerns, a mission that is also part of my mandate letter. This has helped increase the number of people eligible for the disability tax credit.

I also want to point out that our interactions with stakeholders will help us examine the agency's administrative practices and improve the quality of, and accessibility to, the services we provide to people with disabilities.

We checked the numbers with Diabetes Canada. Diabetes Canada is not able to explain where the numbers we were given come from. The Canada Revenue Agency is doing all the checks manually. Anyone who meets the criteria is entitled to the tax credit, period.