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Why don’t institutions like Canada Revenue know about Representation Agreements?

Written by Joanne on June 10, 2013

Dear Joanne,

In 2012 my Mother appointed me as a representative under a Representation Agreement Section 7 (RA7). It was decided this was the most comprehensive document to obtain as she requires assistance to manage her finances, personal care and healthcare decisions. She is elderly and is in the early stages of dementia. She has no real estate or assets.

A problem came to light when it was time to file Mom’s income tax this year. When it was brought to my attention that she had not received her T4’s for her CPP and OAS I called Service Canada to request duplicates. It turns out that Mom did not change her mailing address with them when she moved residences in 2011. I cannot change her address or obtain duplicate receipts without legal authority. Both Service Canada and Revenue Canada have informed me that they do not recognize Representation Agreements and advised me to obtain something “more formal” such as a Power of Attorney. In visiting various websites on the two types of documents it appears the information provided to me by both agencies contradicts the intent of the Representation Agreement.

Are you able to assist me, or point me in the right direction? I am concerned that further delays in filing Mom’s income tax could result in an interruption in her CPP and OAS payments.

The Representation Agreement Section 7 (if it includes the authority for routine management of financial affairs)does cover dealing with Canada Revenue and Service Canada.

The problem is that these are federal institutions, based in Ontario. Federal banks and federal government agencies tend to think the rest of the country uses the same legislation as Ontario does. In this field, the laws are provincial, but most provinces use the term ‘Power of Attorney’ in legislation concerning finances, so it is more familiar to these institutions.

In B.C., the Representation Agreement Act was created from the ground-up. It was the idea of citizens and community groups. We worked very hard to create a law that was more suited to ‘personal planning’ than ‘estate planning’ and safer than the Power of Attorney.

The Representation Agreement Act has been law for 13 years and has successfully been used with the institutions you mention and many others. It is as legal and ‘formal’ as any kind of Power of Attorney. The problem is simply that not all staff of these institutions are familiar with the law, and the institutions probably have not put anything in their general policies to remedy the situation. It is most disappointing and frustrating. Unfortunately this does not only apply to federal agencies, it is also the case with B.C. government agencies.

My suggestion is that you mail or fax a copy of your mother’s Representation Agreement along with the definition of routine management of financial affairs – you might want to highlight (1) (w), (z), and (aa). With the Representation Agreement be sure to include the Certificates signed by each of the representatives/alternates, monitor and witnesses, as they form part of the legal document.

In your cover letter you might suggest they contact the B.C. Ministry of Attorney General or the Public Guardian and Trustee’s Office of B.C. if they have additional questions


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