In last week’s report I referenced some of the challenges single parents, particularly single moms, were facing with the Canada Revenue Agency in receiving their Canada Child Benefit (CCB) support.
Since that report I have heard of literally dozens of more cases that illustrate the severity of this problem.
This matters because in many cases, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), with often dubious information at best, will send out an advisory informing a single parent that their marital status has been arbitrarily changed to married or common-law.
Typically this occurs because an ex-spouse has left the marriage and has not filed a change of address; often to avoid being found as child/spousal support payments are not being made either.
I have heard from many single mothers, the great lengths they have gone to attempt to prove an ex-spouse is no longer living at the same address. Even in cases where a restraining order is present, the CRA may still refuse to change the status of the single parent in question.
What is most troubling about this conduct from the Canadian Revenue Agency is essentially single parents are being treated as guilty. The important Canada Child Benefits are being withheld, denied or reduced until such time they can prove to the satisfaction of CRA that they are innocent. Only then do they receive the benefit to which they are entitled.
I would submit nowhere else in Canadian society would we accept a presumption of guilt to deny single parents benefits that help care for children.
Yet I have witnessed evidence that demonstrates the Canada Revenue Agency is doing precisely that and it is wrong.
Keep in mind - in cases where fraud can be proven and established by CRA - the agency has the ability to garnishee wages, bank accounts and other assets. I mention this as I believe Canada Revenue Agency has sufficient tools to deal with fraud.They do not need to penalize single parents and label them guilty without due process.
From a political standpoint, this is all part of a disturbing trend.
In the last few months, the Canada Revenue Agency has attempted to go after staff discounts, began denying significant numbers of Type 1 diabetes applicants their Disability Tax Credit and now single parents, most often single mothers, are being targeted.
Although the Canada Revenue Agency may not give many single parents the benefit of the doubt, I will offer the benefit of the doubt that the Trudeau Liberal Government has not sanctioned these actions.
I will also publicly pass on that the Minister of National Revenue's office has recently reached out to my office suggesting they are well aware of this problem.
However I will also state that the Minister of National Revenue must get this agency under control, or the Prime Minister is going to need to find a new Minister who can.
My question this week:
Do you think it is fair that Canada Revenue Agency can unilaterally change the marital status of a single parent thus potentially penalizing the Canada Child Benefits and essentially say “prove us wrong”?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.