OTTAWA — Canada Revenue Agency employees know a giant spotlight will be pointed at them come Monday.
That’s when they begin the monumental task of delivering on historic federal benefits meant to mitigate the disastrous economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Normally at tax time the agency has between 3,000 and 4,000 employees working the phones at call centres across the country. But this is no normal year.
More than 1,000 CRA employees have volunteered to bolster those numbers and take calls from an estimated 300,000 Canadians per day who are expected to inquire about the government’s $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Those calls will be fielded from the kitchens, living rooms and home offices of the agency’s employees, who have like so many Canadians been forced to work from home as part of Canada-wide efforts to lessen the spreading of the novel coronavirus.
Marc Briere, national president of the Union of Taxation Employees, which represents most CRA workers, says it’s a historic challenge, and one that he hopes will show Canadians they are not just tax collectors.