There are increasing indications that the current SR&ED Headquarters team is actually listening to program users’ concerns - a very welcome development. For instance; each year, CRA hosts a series of meetings across the country for local program stakeholders. In previous years these consisted of presentations by HQ staff, followed by a limited question period. Last year the meetings were less formal, and provided much more opportunity for interaction. This year, on an experimental basis, some of the discussions are being led by private-sector stakeholders. I welcomed this opportunity, and at the Toronto meeting, in October, I facilitated a session on program users’ concerns with the technical review process. Although there was criticism of some review practices and some provisions of the Claim Review Manual, the CRA people present participated fully and were ready to consider suggestions, including limiting discretion of individual reviewers in certain circumstances.
On several other occasions too, this Headquarters team has been willing to listen to specific concerns raised by program users and carefully consider whether they could be addressed by administrative changes. While we shouldn’t expect any changes in policy, anything that leads to more consistency in how claim reviews are conducted is a step forward.