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ALBAS: Federal applications and long processing times

Dan Albas a Member of Parliament.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Dan Albas
August 18, 2017 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


As a Member of Parliament I am often contacted by citizens requesting assistance with applications they have to submit to the Federal Government. Whether it's their application for Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) or a Permanent Resident Document, the processing times can be much longer than they expect.

In fact for those turning 65, it is recommended they have their applications in for OAS/GIS sent in well in advance of that significant birthday. One year prior to that significant birthday is what I recommend.

It takes many months to process almost any kind of Federal Application and sometimes it can take years for completion.

The amount of your OAS benefit is calculated based upon how long you have been a resident of Canada. If you were born in Canada and have lived here for 40 years after your 18th birthday, things are pretty straight forward but your OAS/GIS application can still take many months to process.

If you were born outside of Canada or have spent time living abroad, it can complicate matters considerably. You must provide documentation which proves how long you have been resident in Canada. For people who came to Canada many years ago or with their parents as children, and have spent time outside Canada, it can be difficult and time consuming to gather the required documents you need to submit. Passports from 20 – 30 years ago or even just 10 years ago are often not kept. Other official documents to prove that you lived in Canada, like Provincial Medical Plan cards or certificates, Provincial or Municipal home ownership records that are sometimes not in the applicant’s possession any more. Who knew these documents would be required to get your OAS? Applications for replacement of Citizenship documents also take months or even more than 1 year to process.

Enough of my constituents have come to me with these challenges that I began to research what changes we could implement at the legislative level to help solve these problems. Many people think that Government is just one big department and that personal information is shared as needed between Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency, Citizenship and Immigration and all the Provinces. The fact is that without your written permission, information which could support your application for OAS but might be held by another Department or level of Government cannot be shared. Some small progress has been made recently as Service Canada, which is responsible for processing your OAS/GIS application can now ask for information from Citizenship and Immigration with your permission, however, that can add many months to a processing time that is already far too long.

That leads to this week’s question - should we permit personal information about an applicant, with that applicant’s written permission, to be shared between Government Departments to make it easier and faster for applications to be processed?  What has been your experience with a Federal Applications?

Contact me and tell me your story and if you think that information sharing between departments would have helped you.

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call 1-800-665-8711.


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