Impact of Adding Revenue Canada Databases Under FOAEA—Part 1 Tracing For Locating Persons
Final Report



This document presents the results of the research implementation phase of a study that assesses the impact and effectiveness of the addition of Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) databases to processes used in tracing payors owing maintenance arrears and in identifying and locating employers to whom Notices of Attachment (garnishees) might be applied.

Three hundred and fifteen cases were randomly selected and analyzed to determine case and recipient characteristics, arrears, payment and enforcement data. The quality, completeness, currency, timeliness and outcomes of both payor residential and employer trace returns for these files were analyzed to determine trace outcomes and payment results. Other aspects of tracing, such as the duration of different components of the tracing process, were also described and assessed.

A second component of this study assessed the proportional significance of the FOAEA trace function within the overall tracing process. This component was based on an analysis of enrolment and trace request data from FMEP and FAMS.

An analysis of the payor residential and employer trace returns concluded the following:

  • Employer data is the most required and requested, however payor residential data is more likely to be returned;
  • More payor residential data is returned than employer data—that is, payor address returns include more multiple addresses;
  • CCRA sends more incomplete payor residential address returns than Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC);
  • The "quality" of employer returns (all sent by CCRA) is higher than for payor residential address data. There were no incomplete and only three duplicate employer traces sent by CCRA. There was also a higher proportion of employer data than payor residential address data that was "new" to the FMEP and FAMS data systems;
  • Despite being "new" to the system, the employer data provided by CCRA is older than the payor residential address data. Sixty percent of the most current employer results were dated 1997 or earlier, compared with 30 percent of the data related to payor addresses; and
  • Based on an examination of the date of trace returns in relation to the time of the FMEP request, an estimated 56 percent of payor addresses were "current," compared to 39 percent of employer addresses.

An analysis of the outcomes of trace results showed that seven payors and nine employers were accurately traced using FOAEA data. Using the total number of files with returns as a baseline, this suggests a completion rate of 2.3 percent for payor addresses and five percent for employer addresses. These numbers would be substantially higher if it were possible to accurately ascertain specific tracing needs.

There is, at present, no clear way of determining the specific trace needs of FAMS. This is due in part to the fact that FAMS does not clearly designate its trace needs on its requests and to the reality that the FOAEA Unit always sends back both payor residential and employer addresses.

Ten of the sixteen successful traces resulted in payments to the FOAEA Unit totalling $18,027. Overall, the CCRA data yielded a much higher rate of payments (9/10) than the HRDC data. This is logical because the location of employers is more likely to result in a payment. The range of payments resulting from traces was $104 to $6,934, with an average payment per case of $1,803.

The primary objective of this study was to determine whether the addition of CCRA databases has increased the number of completed traces of payors and employers, and, as a consequence, raised the amount of maintenance arrears collected. The study concluded that the addition of CCRA data appears to have increased tracing effectiveness and the amount of payments from the FOAEA Unit. Data indicates that CCRA data was responsible for 10 trace returns; accounting for 62.5 percent of the total returns and 94 percent of the payments received ($17,027). However, overall, the impact of FOAEA trace data, from either source department, is limited and payment recovery is minimal.

The study also attempted to determine the approximate proportional "value" of FOAEA traces to both FMEP and FAMS. The data revealed that FOAEA traces are requested for approximately one third (35 percent) of cases sent to FAMS for search by FMEP. Less than one percent of cases originally enrolled in FMEP terminate in a FOAEA search. However, it should be noted that FOAEA traces are normally only requested in cases where other search methods have been unsuccessful.

One of the most significant findings of this study related to the overall volume of data sent by the FOAEA Unit to FMEP via FAMS. A large proportion of this data was not requested, not required, incomplete, already searched by FMEP or FAMS, or substantially outdated.

Considering that the FOAEA data represents only a small proportion of the data requested by FMEP, these characteristics have led to the FOAEA data being undervalued. A restructuring of the FOAEA tracing system needs to be undertaken to ensure that FMEP receives the most minimal but highest quality data possible. A restructuring would include:

  • A reduction in the overall volume of data generated by the FOAEA Unit and sent to FMEP;
  • Filtering of trace data by request and currency of data (filtering could be done at the FOAEA Unit or by FAMS);
  • Elimination of all duplicate and incomplete data sent by the FOAEA Unit; and
  • The upgrading of the FAMS and FMEP electronic systems to permit ongoing monitoring and assessment of trace application data and outcomes.

The intent of this restructuring would be to:

  • Streamline the amount of data to reduce the volume and workload for FMEP staff;
  • Enhance the relevance and "appearance of quality" of FOAEA data so that this data would be reviewed more rapidly by FMEP staff;
  • Increase the likelihood of more successful trace completions; and
  • Support improvements to the data transfer system that would increase the timeliness, efficiency and effectiveness of the trace process.


  1. That search request criteria be more clearly defined by FAMS and that these criteria be used by the FOAEA Unit to select and designate trace returns.

  2. That filters be applied at the FOAEA Unit and/or FAMS in order to:

    • Eliminate all incomplete and duplicate addresses sent by FOAEA; and
    • Ensure that only the most recently active address in each category is sent.
  3. That FAMS/FMEP/FOAEA explore the possibility of FAMS automatically filtering FOAEA data in order to eliminate payor residential and employer addresses already searched. This process would minimize the volume of data returning to FMEP.

  4. That a simple internal monitoring system, based on distinctive data fields, is incorporated within FAMS and FMEP to identify the data responsible for a valid and completed trace of a payor residential or employer address. For example, the data fields could be triggered by the issuance of a Notice of Attachment or a completed payment. This would permit continuous internal assessment of the effectiveness and utility of different information sources and tracing methods.

  5. That small scale file reviews be carried out on an annual basis to monitor the duration of specific components of the tracing process. This would require the more accurate identification of some trace process dates (e.g. the dates for FMEP review of files and FOAEA transfer of data).

  6. That the system of data transfer be restructured so that all FOAEA data is transferred electronically from FAMS to FMEP, rather than by hard copy.

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