Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for November 13, 2012

MP gets earful on revenue office’s closure

Yukon MP Ryan Leef’s office will do everything in its power to help Yukoners adjust to the fall closure of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) office.

By Stephanie Waddell on November 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

CLOSURE’S IMPACTS DEBATED – About 50 people turned out for last Friday’s meeting on the local Canada Revenue Agency office’s closure.

Yukon MP Ryan Leef’s office will do everything in its power to help Yukoners adjust to the fall closure of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) office.

Leef made that assurance to approximately 50 people who turned out for a meeting last Friday morning at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre.

The local business owners, their staff, community groups and individuals had turned up to meet with Leef only to learn his flight from Vancouver to Whitehorse had been turned around and he had gone back to Ottawa, since he would only have arrived here in time to turn around and head back to the nation’s capital.

He instead attended the meeting by conference call with three of his staff members present at the session.

Before the approximately 1 1/2-hour session began, media representatives were told to wait outside while staff asked if those in attendance had any issue with the press reporting on the proceedings.

Reporters entered the room to applause from the crowd as the meeting began.

Leef apologized for his absence and noted his appreciation that a conference call is impersonal. He noted if anyone there wanted in-person follow-up with him, he or she could arrange that through his staff.

Throughout the meeting, Leef emphasized that while he’s tabled the ongoing concerns of the Whitehorse office closure with Revenue Minister Gail Shea in Ottawa, it’s part of CRA office closures happening all over the country which will see all local offices shut down by next October. Those looking for service will instead have to go online or use a 1-800 number to contact the CRA.

“We may not like that reality,” Leef said.

The best solution he could come up with for those who prefer the front-counter service is to offer what services he can out of his office.

That will mean making a phone and computer available for use, with staff there to help use either.

The office will also provide mail-out service to those needing to get things to the CRA that they would have previously delivered to the local office.

What forms can be provided, he will have in his office, he said, noting there are some forms that have to be requested from an individual.

Acknowledging that some would see his proposal as “unacceptable”, he noted his hope that those attending the meeting would appreciate that he’s trying to implement a solution for their benefit and that he’s not going to let the closure go quietly if small businesses are suffering.

And as he soon learned, many in the city have already felt the impact of the closure.

“This service is really being missed in our office,” said Marny Ryder, who was representing the Yukon Council On Aging.

Since the CRA office closed, an overflow of seniors have been visiting the council’s office with questions on income tax and other CRA-related matters.

Ryder was one of the first to praise the staffer who ran the Whitehorse CRA office, noting she had been a big help in answering questions seniors had about their taxes and even running workshops to help seniors with any tax issues.

Ryder, along with many others as the meeting went on, suggested Leef find a way to have the “wonderful lady” who ran the Whitehorse CRA office in his office to deal with the inquiries his staff will now get on tax issues.

It was later learned that the local CRA staffer has been moved to another position with the federal government in Whitehorse.

Leef noted he’s repeatedly heard overwhelming support for the services she provided to clients, going above and beyond what was required.

“I think we were very fortunate,” he said.

The MP was questioned later in the meeting about hiring staff to deal with the influx of CRA-related inquiries and paper work.

Leef pointed to the possibilities of hiring part-time or contract staff for the work. He noted last year, he ended up returning about $100,000 of the budget allotted to him for local office work.

Funding to assist locals in dealing with the CRA will come out of those MP-related funds, he said.

Others, however, questioned whether Leef’s office could handle the additional work. They pointed out examples where they’ve requested assistance or a meeting only to get no response.

While it was noted one staffer has been away, Leef requested his staff present at the meeting follow up with those who leave messages with his office.

Questioned whether future MPs would provide the same services on CRA issues, Leef noted he can’t speak to what future MPs will do, but his office will be trying its best to meet the needs of those who would otherwise use the CRA office.

Carol Church, who owns the local H&R Block outlet and has been vocal in her opposition to the CRA office closure, addressed Leef throughout the meeting.

She continually pointed to her petition over the closure. Leef indicated he will present the petition in Ottawa when it is provided to him.

Church then questioned whether his office would be able to handle taking on the amount of work that will come from the CRA office’s closure.

At one point, she questioned whether Leef needed any paper, having gone to his office and having been told there was not enough paper to make all the photocopies she requested. Church volunteered to provide him with more paper.

Another speaker argued that with the federal government expecting taxes to be filed, it should have staff “on the ground” to assist with that.

When the meeting ended, he said he would again reiterate his constituents’ concerns to Shea and encouraged those needing the CRA local service to “please engage my office.”

CommentsAdd a comment

north_of_60

Nov 13, 2012 at 11:42 pm

“That will mean making a phone and computer available for use, with staff there to help use either.
The office will also provide mail-out service to those needing to get things to the CRA that they would have previously delivered to the local office.”

That works for me, thanks. It will be an improvement.
In my experience the staff at the present CRA office are usually not there and not very helpful when they are.

A Numbered Company

Nov 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm

So, taxpayers are still paying for the service, except through our MP’s office. Sure, that makes sense.

sam

Nov 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Who cares about these services.

I voted for Mr. Leef because he promised to work on mixed martial arts issues.

Stan

Nov 15, 2012 at 10:16 am

I really care about maintaining the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) office and prefer that this office remains open. The person who assisted me this fall knew her job well and was very proficient. Far more efficient than I suspect Ryan’s staff will be.

And what about the promises that Ryan Leef made when he was seeking election.
I voted for Mr. Leef because he promised to work on mixed martial arts issues and very narrow sport related issues which a handful of us are concerned about.

Atom

Nov 16, 2012 at 12:45 am

I didn’t vote for Ryan ‘fox in the henhouse’ Leef, because he flaunted wildlife laws in the Yukon and because he likes to playfight.

Hiiiiyyyyyaaaaaa

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