Interview with the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman Sherra Profit

Written by: Dana Daschuk

I had an opportunity to Interview the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman for Canada before she comes to Langley B.C. for a keynote event on February 9th, 2017.  This interview will give a bit of background information to accountants and those who may be attending the event.  I did not know what the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman was before this interview, and I thought that others should be informed as well.  

Sherra ProfitIn my research I found out that this position is fairly new and my first question for Ms. Sherra Profit, the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman was; why was it not until 2008 that the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman was first established?  She responded that the office was created to increase transparency in the role of the government and the Canada Revenue Agency. 

Then I asked Ms. Profit, how did she get appointed or recommended to be the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman.  Ms. Profit informed me that although the position is a government appointment, she had to apply and go through an interview and selection process much like a job application.  Ms. Profit herself was informed about the opportunity through a friend and furthermore went on to pursue the position; she was appointed in April 2015.   

After talking to Ms. Profit about her position and how she started I was curious as to how long her term as the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman would be.  She explained that, “In the Order in Council it states that the position is a 5 year non-renewable term”.  Previously it was a three-year renewable term and had switched over while her predecessor Paul Dube held the office. 

The main purpose of the Ombudsman’s Office is to make recommendations to improve service at the Canada Revenue Agency.  We discussed what process she must go through to get a recommendation approved.  In order to start a recommendation a systemic examination is taken first, to review the problem.  From there some research is done on the issue to better evaluate the facts.   After a report is made, it is sent off to the Minister of Finance to be approved; all recommendations that have been made, have been accepted.   

Before being the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, Ms. Profit practiced private law in Prince Edward Island.  She practiced in many areas including; general litigation, estates and trusts, family law, corporate law and alternative dispute resolutions.  With her background in law I wanted to know what she planned to do after she finished her term.  Ms. Profit replied with energy, “I still have three years left!” and it was clear that she was in no rush to determine what she was on to next.  She assured me that she enjoyed serving the people and it is an area that she would like to continue to work in.  It was a similar answer, when I asked, “What was her favorite area of practice?” and it was alternative dispute resolutions, because of it broad range of cases that it covers.  Ms. Profit plans to continue on in the Ombudsman field after her term, as she is enthused to keep helping the people of Canada.   

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