Feds look to make online services simpler

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OTTAWA – Canadians who both file their taxes and check their benefits online will soon find find it easier to skip between the websites of two different federal departments.

The government has linked two secure online services to make moving between the secure websites of the Canada Revenue Agency and Employment and Social Development Canada more seamless.

Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos made the announcement earlier today.

Duclos says it should now be easier for Canadians to manage their benefits online and complete their tax returns without the need to log into different websites.

Both departments have been trying to move more of their services online, believing it is a key ingredient to providing services at a sustainable cost.

The plan to link the accounts dates back to at least March 2015, before the Liberals took power, according to documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

“We live in a digital era and Canadians rightly expect services that are simple and efficient and that is what our two departments are giving them,” Duclos told a news conference.

An ESDC report from June 2015 estimated that 3.5 million CRA accounts at the time could be linked to ESDC services, while another 2.4 million accounts could be connected if they were to enter a security code with the CRA.

“This create a large pool of clients that could be encouraged to use the other department’s e-services for individuals,” reads the report.

“While linking the two e-accounts for individuals is only a small step towards a fully integrated online service channel, it removes (one of) the largest obstacles, i.e., not being in the same secure space/account.”

The report estimates the overall cost of the project at $3 million, evenly split between the two departments.