General Secretary's Report

September 21, 2016

Dear Members:

It is with great pleasure that I present the 2015-2016 Annual Report. This report is a reflection of the NJC's achievements and its challenges from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The National Joint Council (NJC) is a unique organization that is co-managed by the Employer and the Bargaining Agent Sides. All matters falling under the auspices of the NJC are jointly considered and decided. While its model was originally contemplated as a mechanism to resolve disputes and agree to important matters affecting employers and employees in the private sector, it flourished in the federal public sector given its focus on service-wide issues that are similar across departments and areas of the country. It is an important entity fostering information-sharing, consultation and collaboration between the federal public service as employer and the 18 federal bargaining agents representing approximately 200,000 employees in the public service of Canada. From its beginnings in 1944 until today, the parties have achieved, through a collaborative framework, agreement on numerous terms and conditions of employment, as well as health-related benefits. While such achievements are not always simple, the parties have focused on common interests with a mutual goal of better working conditions for everyone in the public service. Some of the items discussed and reviewed include the largest health care plan in the country, occupational health and safety and a comprehensive travel directive used by all member employees of the NJC when on government business.

With respect to the day-to-day functioning of the NJC, members of Council from both sides provide even numbers of participants for all committees and every matter is carefully considered together. The staff who sit on these committees are chosen not only for their expertise and experience, but also for their dedication to the collaborative model of resolving grievances and consulting on many other issues. As a result of their efforts, among other things, numerous directives are regularly reviewed and updated and grievances are heard and decided. For such a distinctive organization to achieve successful collaborations, it requires hard work and continuous dedication on the part of all the members of Council, as well as resilience and commitment to the process when conditions are not ideal to collaboration. However, even when difficult issues arise, as is the case from time to time, the NJC has always remained a critical and reliable forum where the parties continue to meet and discuss matters of mutual interest. The value of this cannot be understated not only for the consistency and stability of the terms and conditions of employment it oversees and its recourse mechanisms, but for building trust and maintaining relationships already created.

Having said this, none of the above would be possible without the very dedicated work of the NJC Secretariat, which supports the parties in all their endeavours. Our small staff ensures that all the operations run smoothly, provide excellent support to our numerous committees and provide assistance and answers to any members who seek assistance. Each staff member is an excellent resource on several topics at any given time, and are also very adept at connecting parties to the right sources of information should it not be at our office. As such, I thank them sincerely for their true dedication, integrity and hard work in supporting the work and legacy of the NJC.

The NJC Achievements section of this report offers a brief summary of the some of the significant achievements of the constituent bodies of the NJC over 2015-16.

Consultations

Although the success of consultations ebbs and flows depending on various factors and the topic of any given consultation, constant dialogue remains key. Striving for meaningful consultation, and not simply information-sharing, is the continuous goal. Meaningful consultations involve discussions that are up front and involve early engagement whenever possible. Over this past year, several topics of consultation arose on a number of subject matters. The Public Service Commission (PSC) continued to reach out to members of Council at our Quarterly meetings on various and timely issues including the PSC Annual Report, rules surrounding participation of public servants during the federal election and Priority Entitlements for Staffing. The collaboration with the PSC remains a natural fit in that both the NJC and the PSC address issues that are service-wide and tend to affect all public servants in one form or another. As such, it is expected that this relationship will continue and flourish going forward. Other opportunities for collaboration through NJC meetings included ongoing discussions and consultations with the Treasury Board Secretariat on numerous issues, consultation from the Canadian Human Rights Commission on web applications, and presentations from Public Works and Government Services Canada (now Public Service Procurement Canada) with respect to the Phoenix pay system as it was approaching implementation.

Communications and Outreach

New in this fiscal year was an initiative to provide training to those in the labour relations community interested in understanding the NJC in general, but with a particular focus on the grievance hearing procedures and reasoning behind it. The interest in our half-day session was incredibly successful with 14 sessions being held in both English and French in Ottawa, as well as sessions in Montreal and Halifax. In addition, outreach in the form of presentations and discussions on the NJC model and its work were provided as requested to several bargaining agents and departments. Plans continue into the next fiscal year for further sessions, including in Ottawa and other cities across the country, where demand is sufficient. Further training will also be developed focusing on other specific audiences related to the NJC. This training could not have been prepared and delivered without the tireless efforts of the NJC labour relations staff. Their skills are unique to the public service in that they have regular exposure to files and hearings from both sides of the coin and are able to provide assistance equally and fairly to all parties.

The following are examples of other NJC accomplishments during 2015-16:

Administrative and Facilities Support 

After moving under the auspices of the Administrative Tribunals Support Services of Canada (ATSSC) after its creation in November 2014, the NJC Secretariat continues to maintain operational independence while receiving services and support from the shared services model. While there were many new procedures to iron out over the past year as the new organization continued to evolve, the NJC and ATSSC have worked diligently together to find the right balance between the NJC independent mandate and supporting the administrative needs of the day-to-day work of the NJC. Their work in that regard has been highly appreciated.

Having completed my third year as General Secretary in May 2016, I continue to look forward to supporting and enhancing the work and profile of the NJC during my tenure and feel privileged to be part of this unique organization that has been a leading example in Canada of the value of union-management cooperation.

Deborah Cooper
General Secretary

Mandate

Created in 1944, the National Joint Council today includes eighteen (18) public service Bargaining Agents, the Treasury Board and four (4) "separate Employers" as members. The activities of Council directly affect the working lives of well over 230,000 represented employees in 80 departments and agencies in every region of Canada.

The NJC contributes to effective labour relations and human resources management on many fronts:

NJC processes:

Forum of Choice

Employers and Bargaining Agents have agreed that the National Joint Council is the "Forum of Choice" for co-development, consultation and information sharing between the government as Employer and public service Bargaining Agents. Through the National Joint Council, the parties take joint ownership of broad labour relations issues and develop collaborative solutions to workplace issues.

Governance

Under the NJC Constitution and By-laws, the activities of Council are formally governed at quarterly meetings of all participating Employer and Bargaining Agent members. Decisions of Council are made by consensus of the "Employer Side" and the "Bargaining Agent Side". In the case of NJC Directives, participating members give full legal force to Council decisions by incorporating new directives as integral components of their respective collective agreements.

The Executive Committee is composed of three representatives from each of the Employer and Bargaining Agent Sides, supported in both cases by a Side Secretary. The Executive Committee is empowered to act on behalf of Council in administering the activities of the NJC during the intervals between quarterly meetings. Executive Committee decisions are subject to formal ratification by Council when they are reported at Council's regular quarterly meetings. Council may also delegate its decision-making authority to the Executive Committee to facilitate timely and effective action.

The General Secretary acts under the broad direction of the Executive Committee and is not a member of Council or any NJC committees. The Employer and Bargaining Agent sides alternately nominate the General Secretary who heads the NJC Secretariat for a five-year term. The NJC Secretariat, operating under the supervision of the General Secretary, offers administrative and professional support to Council and its constituent bodies.

The day-to-day work of the NJC is accomplished by the many hard-working and dedicated representatives of the parties who serve as appointed members of NJC working committees, working groups and boards of management. These constituent bodies report to Council through the Executive Committee and carry out a wide range of activities as determined from time to time by the Executive Committee.

National Joint Council Members

Employer Members

Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Communications Security Establishment Canada
National Research Council of Canada
Office of the Auditor General of Canada
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Bargaining Agent Members

Association of Canadian Financial Officers
Association of Justice Counsel
Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, CATCA Unifor, Local 5454
Canadian Association of Professional Employees
Canadian Federal Pilots Association
Canadian Merchant Service Guild
Canadian Military Colleges Faculty Association
Federal Government Dockyard Chargehands Association
Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (East)
Federal Government Dockyard Trades and Labour Council (West)
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2228
Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
Public Service Alliance of Canada
Research Council Employees' Association
Unifor, Local 2182
Unifor, Local 87-M
Union of Canadian Correctional Officers – CSN

Executive Committee Members
(April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016)

Employer Side:

Chairperson:

Manon Brassard, Treasury Board Secretariat

Vice-Chairperson:

Dan Danagher, Global Affairs Canada

Representative:

Kelly Gillis, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (April - April 23, 2015)
Robert Orr, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
(since April 23, 2015)

Secretary:

Jacynthe Séguin, Treasury Board Secretariat

Bargaining Agent Side:

Co-Chairperson:

Ron Cochrane, Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers

Vice-Chairperson:

Robyn Benson, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Representative:

Debi Daviau, Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada

Secretary:

Andrea Dean, Public Service Alliance of Canada

National Joint Council Secretariat:

General Secretary:

Deborah Cooper, National Joint Council Secretariat

Secretary:

Roxanne Lépine, National Joint Council Secretariat (April - January 25, 2016)
Jennifer Purdy, National Joint Council Secretariat (since January 26, 2016 - Acting)

Committee Chairpersons
(April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016)

Foreign Service
Directives Committee: 

Monique Paquin, Financial Transactions and
Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (April 2015 - January 2016)

Sean Ross, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (since February 2016)

Government Travel Committee:

Lyne Landriault, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Isolated Posts and Government
Housing Committee:

Danielle Auclair, Department of National Defence

Joint Employment
Equity Committee:

Nadine Huggins, Public Service Commission

Donna Lackie, Public Service Alliance of Canada (April - August 2015)
Larry Rousseau, Public Service Alliance of Canada (since December 2015)

Occupational Health and
Safety Committee:

Stéphane Cardinal, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Canada

Official Languages:

Michelle Laframboise, Environment and Climate Change Canada

Relocation Committee:

Daniel Banville, Treasury Board Secretariat

Service-Wide Committee on
Occupational 
Health and Safety:

Don Graham, Treasury Board Secretariat

Bob Kingston, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Union-Management
Relations Committee:

Chad Stroud, Unifor (Local 2182) (April - December 2015)
Cathie Fraser, Research Council Employees' Association (since December 2015)

Workforce Adjustment Committee:

Greg Gauthier, Finance Canada

Dental Care Plan Board
of Management 
(NJC Part):

Peter Cooney

Disability Insurance Plan
Board of Management:

Paul Burkholder

NJC Achievements

Committees and Boards

The National Joint Council is very fortunate to benefit from the hard work, dedication and wealth of expertise of its Bargaining Agent and Employer Side representatives. Through their efforts, the mandate of the NJC is brought to life and advanced through the work of its constituent bodies. Each year, these very talented individuals apply themselves to complex and pressing labour relations matters and amass a substantial record of achievement. What follows is a summary of committee activities and accomplishments from the last year.

Foreign Service Directives (FSD) Committee

The Committee continued to hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. As in the past, a number of requests for interpretation were sent to the Committee for a recommendation on interpretation. This year's requests for interpretation were related to FSD 15.18 – Shipment of a Private Motor Vehicle and FSD 2 – Appendix B – Break in Cohabitation. On April 1, 2015 the Committee approved a number of regularly adjusted Annual rates which were published on the NJC website. The Committee has yet to undertake the cyclical review of the Directives as the input date has been extended.

Government Travel (GT) Committee

The Committee finalized a Communiqué on Converting Foreign Travel Expenses to Canadian Dollars which was approved by the Executive Committee.  The Communiqué is set to be published on the NJC website in the next fiscal year.  The Committee continued to manage its grievance caseload as it considered and reported on a number of grievances.

Isolated Posts and Government Housing (IPGH) Committee

In addition to the careful consideration and providing recommendations to the Executive Committee on grievances, the Committee continued to approve periodic updates to the various allowances. The Committee also developed a Communiqué on Prepared Grocery Store Meals, which has been posted on the NJC Website. The Committee continued its cyclical review of the IPGH Directive and aims to have the review completed in 2016.

Joint Employment Equity Committee (JEEC)

The Committee focused its energies this year on developing a strategic forward outlook, a revised mandate, as well as a detailed 2016 – 2017 Work Plan.  A key priority for the Committee was to ensure that all Committee members had a clear understanding of Employment Equity (EE) within the Federal Public Service as well as the key stakeholders.  As such, the Committee began working on a comprehensive EE Roles and Responsibilities Flow Chart.  The Committee also received a presentation from the Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) group, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.  The Committee anticipates on providing feedback on the next PSES in the upcoming fiscal year.

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committee

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee continued to hear grievances and provide its recommendations to the Executive Committee. The Committee received a presentation with respect to the Work Refusal process at Canada Post. This presentation presented an overview of the process, more specifically when such a right is exercised, the information communicated to the parties, and when a local investigation should be launched to determine the existence of danger.

Official Languages (OL) Committee

The Official Languages Committee was provided with a presentation on the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey from the Official Languages Centre of Excellence and discussed its impact on workplaces. The Committee also had a presentation from Canadian Heritage with  respect to articles 41-42 of the Official Languages Act. It was explained that the Act recognized English and French as Canada's two official languages and it sets out institutions' authorities and obligations. Another presentation on the review of the application of the Official Languages Regulations was provided to the members.  In addition to these presentations, the Committee heard two grievances and provided recommendations to the Executive Committee.

Relocation (RELO) Committee

The Committee continued to manage its grievance caseload as it considered and reported on a number of grievances. The Committee has yet to undertake the cyclical review of the Directive as the input call has been extended.

Service-Wide Committee on Occupational Health and Safety (SWOHS)

The Committee was provided with a presentation from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) on the consolidation of information on asbestos in federal workplaces. This presentation helped clarify the role of tenants, custodians and the responsibility of each Department to manage asbestos. PSPC representatives were also invited to present clarification and lessons learned from legionella discovered in federal workplaces. The Committee also had a presentation from Health Canada on their Radon Program which serves to educate, conduct research and perform radon testing.

Union-Management Relations (UMR) Committee

The Committee coordinated the planning of the 2015 NJC Seminar held in the National Capital Region. The theme of the 2015 Seminar was "Respect and Wellness in the Workplace".   Some of the topics addressed included: an update from the Technical Committee with Respect to Mental Health in the Workplace; Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace; Best Practices – Mental Health in the Workplace; and Mental Health First Aid. The Committee also began developing the 2016 NJC Seminar program.

Furthermore, the Committee ensured that the Joint Training program was delivered to new members and Chairpersons participating on NJC committees, as well as any interested Bargaining Agent representatives. A successful bilingual session was held in March 2016.

Work Force Adjustment (WFA) Committee

The Committee received updates from TBS on the amount of WFA cases occurring under the Directive, as well as updates from the PSC in regards to the number of priority employees in the Priority Information Management System. The Committee continued to consider and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee on several grievances.

Dental (DTL) Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part)

The Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part) considered a number of appeals related to crowns, implants, orthodontia, dental exams, fillings, etc. The majority of the appeals considered by the Board in 2015-2016 addressed Plan limitations and late claims. In addition to these, the Board of Management assessed 4 departmental errors, and granted 3 requests for coverage of a dependant.

Disability Insurance (DI) Plan Board of Management

The Board examined and provided recommendations to Sun Life on appeals and closely monitored the Plan's financial position and client satisfaction levels throughout the year.  In addition, Board members participated in a one day learning and discussion event with the insurer at its Montreal offices, and further follow up sessions on some specific issues will be arranged over the coming year.

The Board accepted the final report from Sun Life on the Health Management Consultant (HMC) pilot initiative which had looked into the impact of early intervention of HMCs in suitable claims cases, which showed that HMC involvement is effective when it is introduced at the appropriate time based on the circumstances and factors of the particular disability case. The Board continues to address the increase in appeals with additional meetings.

NJC Public Service Health Care Plan "at a glance"…

NJC Directives and Plans: over $2.5 billion in payments

* Represents payments made between April 1, 2015 and February 29, 2016

Meetings

The NJC Secretariat has had a busy year providing professional, administrative and logistical support to meetings of Council, the Executive Committee, the various Committees and Boards of the NJC. The Secretariat organized 73 regular meetings and sub-committee meetings this past year and ensured follow-up on all meetings. The Secretariat also facilitated other special union-management consultations, meetings to review the By-Laws, as well as briefings on various issues and policies. In addition, the NJC Secretariat also provided several training sessions and prepared multiple networking activities for the members.

Committee Meetings 2015-2016

Dental Care Plan Board of Management

4

Disability Insurance Plan Board of Management

7

Executive Committee

5

Foreign Service Directives Committee

3

Government Travel Committee

4

Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee

7

Joint Employment Equity Committee

4

National Joint Council

4

Occupational Health and Safety Committee

4

Official Languages Committee

5

Public Service Health Care Plan Partners Committee

2

Relocation Committee

9

Service-Wide Occupational Health and Safety Committee

4

Union-Management Relations Committee

8

Work Force Adjustment Committee

3

Others

12

* Others includes special consultations, meetings to review the By-Laws, etc.

NJC Grievances

The NJC grievance process is a successful example of alternative dispute resolution which has been in place now for many years. At the final level, the process has two distinctive and innovative features:

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During the year 2015-2016, 42 new grievances were received. In the course of the year, 43 grievance files were disposed of and 40 remain outstanding.

Grievance Totals 2015-2016

Carried over from 2014-2015

41*

New 2015-2016

42

Total 2015-2016

83

Disposed 2015-2016

43

Carry forward into 2016-2017

40

*Please note that the carried forward number reflected in last year's Annual Report should have read 41 grievances.

Of the disposed caseload, 3 grievances fell within the purview of the FSD Committee, 9 to the Government Travel Committee (grievances concerning either the Travel Directive or the Commuting Assistance Directive); 21 to the Relocation Committee; 2 to the Occupational Health and Safety Committee; 5 to the Work Force Adjustment Committee, 2 to the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee and one (1) to the OL Committee.

Breakdown of Disposed Grievances

Upheld

7

Denied

9

Upheld in part

1

Impassed

6

Lacked Jurisdiction

6

Untimely

3

Withdrawn

10

Other

1

Total

43

NJC Grievance Summaries

Travel Directive:

21.4.1085

The grievor was initially working in City A. In 2012, the grievor was informed by the Employer that the substantive position in City A was to be relocated to City B. At the same time, the grievor's spouse obtained a position in City C. Given the situation, both parties (Employer and grievor) agreed that the grievor would work from the City C office effective November 2012. In March 2013, the grievor was offered a PM-03 position in City C, effective March 2013.

In October 2013, the grievor submitted a travel claim to be reimbursed expenses for travelling to and from the City C location from November 2012 to March 2013, which was denied by the Department.  The grievor is grieving the denial of the reimbursement.

The Bargaining Agent representative stated that the grievor was not treated within the intent of the Travel Directive as the grievor received authorization from the Employer to work via an arrangement out of an office in City C for a four month period without any official notice or written agreement, despite the grievor asking on a number of occasions for authorization in writing.

As the grievor was instructed by the Employer in both an email and via a telephone conversation to begin reporting to work in City C, and was authorized to perform the duties of the substantive position from the City C office, it is the position of the Bargaining Agent representative that there can be no debate that the grievor was on government travel during the period in question and hence, entitled to be reimbursed for his retroactive travel claims.

The Departmental representative maintained that the grievor was treated within the intent of the Travel Directive. The grievor was never required to travel on government business, nor were travel expenses and meal allowances pre-approved by the Employer. The grievor was not considered to be on travel status during the four months in question. The arrangement for the grievor to work out of a City C office was made to accommodate the grievor's family situation. Furthermore, the Employer noted that an employee on telework or hoteling is not entitled to the provisions of the Travel Directive. As such, the grievance should be denied.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Government Travel Committee which concluded that the grievor was treated within the intent of the Directive. The Committee agreed that the grievor was not on travel status from November 2012 to March 2013 but rather, was in a telework or hoteling situation. Furthermore, the Committee noted that in cases such as this, a thorough discussion needs to take place between management and the employee prior to any change in work location and all agreements should be confirmed in writing. As such, the grievance was denied.

NJC Relocation Directive:

41.4.77

The grievor accepted an indeterminate appointment with Department A. The letter of offer indicated June 2009 as the start date and the location of duty was City A, Province X. At the time of the appointment, the grievor lived in the City B, Province Y.

In June 2009, despite the real estate agent's recommended listing price, the residence at origin was marketed at a higher price. In mid-September 2009, the grievor lowered the price. The same month, a third party made an offer on the house which was much lower than the new price, therefore it was rejected. Subsequently, a member of the grievor's family offered to buy the house. In October 2009, the parties negotiated and agreed to a selling price that was higher than the last offer.

The Department refused to allocate the Home Sale Assistance of 10% to the grievor given that the sale was not an arm's length transaction.

The Bargaining Agent representative stated that the grievor received two offers on the property and that the family member's offer was higher than the other. As such, one cannot assume that the grievor should have turned down the higher offer only because it is a member of the family. In fact, the grievor's property sold higher than 2 other units in the same complex, during the same period of time. As such, it can only be assumed that the grievor's home was sold at a fair market price value.

The Directive only requires that an arm's length relationship exist between the employee and the service providers. The purchaser of a house is not a service provider. The relationship between the grievor and all actual service providers was at arm's length. As such, the fact that the grievor sold the property to a member of the family does not contravene Section 2.2.

It is the Department's position that although the relationship between the seller and the buyer is not specified in the definition of an arm's length transaction, the principles of the Directive supersede the definition and that the intent of paying the grievor's relocation from public funds should be carefully examined.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Relocation Committee which concluded that the grievor was not treated within the intent of the Directive. The rule on arm's length relationships does not apply to buyers and sellers. As such, the grievance was upheld.

41.4.82

The grievor's work location at origin was in City A. The grievor was affected by a workforce adjustment and subsequently transferred to City B.

The grievor sold the house at origin in March 2013. The house at destination was bought in January 2013. For family related reasons, the grievor was unable to move until April 2013 and hence, incurred interest on a bridging loan to support the overlap of both mortgages. Given this, the grievor requested reimbursement under section 9.18(a). It is to be noted that the grievor used the totality of the Customized and Personalized Funds for Home Sale Assistance (HSA) and therefore, did not have sufficient funds to cover the interest of the loan.

The Bargaining Agent representative maintained that a bridging loan is considered a mortgage and, as such, the grievor should not be penalized by the terminology used by the financial institution as these terms vary from one institution to another. As such, the bridging loan and the interest incurred by the grievor should be reimbursed under the Directive – Section 9.18(a).

The Departmental representative explained that, based on the exceptional circumstances that prevented the grievor from occupying the residence at destination, additional Temporary Dual Residence Allowance was granted. As such, the Employer reimbursed the interest incurred on the mortgage for the period of non-occupancy of the residence at destination.

It is the position of the Employer that the interest on the bridging loan should be reimbursed from the Customized or Personalized Funds and falls under Section 9.18(b). As the grievor chose to be reimbursed for Home Sale Assistance (HSA), both the Customized and Personalized funds were exhausted and consequently, the grievor took a financial loss.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Relocation Committee which concluded that the grievor was treated within the intent of the NJC Relocation Directive. As such, the grievance was denied.

41.4.90

The grievor relocated from City A to City B. The grievor sold the residence at origin for an amount that is less than 95% of the appraised value.

The Employer denied the reimbursement of the Home Sale Assistance (HSA) as the grievor did not first obtain the approval of the Departmental National Coordinator. As such, the employee is grieving the violation of the Relocation Directive by the Employer.

The Bargaining Agent representative submitted that the grievor was not properly informed as to the 10% requirement outlined in the Directive as there was no communication in regards to the minimum price that would have disqualified the grievor from the HSA.

The Bargaining Agent representative noted that the grievor accepted an offer of 11.2% below the established threshold without being informed correctly by the Contracted Relocation Service Provider (CRSP). The grievor was misled by the CRSP as they advised that the selling price could not be lower than 10% of the appraised value.

The Departmental representative indicated that the CRSP notified the grievor that should the grievor receive an offer below 95% of the appraised value of the home, authorization must first be obtained prior to accepting the offer. The representative indicated that the grievor was clearly informed, on at least two occasions that approval from the Departmental National Coordinator was required for HSA.

The Executive Committee reviewed the report of the Relocation Committee and noted the impasse. The Executive Committee concluded that due to the specific circumstances of this case, the Committee is directing the Department to reimburse the grievor 5% Home Sale Assistance in accordance with Section 8.3 of the Directive as it was determined that the grievor was not fully treated within the intent of the Directive. As such, the grievance is allowed in part.

Foreign Service Directives:

25.4.162

The grievor is an employee from Department A who is grieving the Employer's decision to deny authorization for a Vacation Travel Allowance (VTA) for the employee's common-law partner.

The grievor was posted to City A, Country X in August 2009. While posted in City A, the grievor began a relationship with a now common-law partner. The partner began residing with the grievor on June 1, 2011. On June 1, 2012, the grievor's partner officially met the definition of Common-Law Partner and was added to the grievor's Posting Confirmation Form (PCF) as a dependant.

On June 11, 2012 the grievor requested VTA for both the grievor and common-law partner. The VTA for the common-law partner was refused as the grievor was scheduled to leave the post in August 2012. The Employer is of the opinion that a VTA is granted to an employee and dependants based on the expectation that the individuals in question will remain at the post for a minimum of one year subsequent to their start dates as listed on the PCF. As the common-law partner was only listed on the PCF effective June 1, 2012 and would be leaving the post with the grievor in August 2012, it was determined by the Department that the common-law partner would not be entitled to the VTA as the length of time residing at the post as a dependant was not long enough to be eligible for a VTA. The grievor is grieving this decision.

The Department does not dispute the fact that the grievor's partner became a common-law partner effective June 1, 2012. However, the Department is of the opinion that since the grievor left the posting in August 2012, the partner was not a dependant for the minimum required eight (8) months of a twelve (12) month period, in accordance with the definition of FSD 2 "accompanied by one dependant". As the grievor's common-law partner did not have the status of dependant for an 8-month period, the common-law partner is not entitled to VTA in accordance with FSD 50.

The Bargaining Agent representative stated that FSD 50 is an individual entitlement and is applicable to any dependant normally residing with the employee at the post with no specified time frame to be eligible for an FSD 50.  The definition of "accompanied by one dependant" used by the Department is not the FSD 2 definition of a "dependant". The Bargaining Agent representative is of the opinion that the term "accompanied by one dependant" does not appear in FSD 50 and is not applicable to FSD 50.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Foreign Service Directives Committee which concluded that the grievor was treated within the intent of FSD 50. The grievor's common-law partner was only considered a dependant for a two month period prior to the grievor leaving the post. The Committee agreed that two months in a three year posting cannot be considered "normally residing with the employee" in accordance with FSD 50. As such, the grievance is denied.

Bilingual Bonus Directive:

26.4.36

The grievor held a unilingual French essential position at Department X. The grievor requested that this position be recognized as bilingual. The following year, the grievor accepted a unilingual French essential indeterminate position and pursued the request to be granted the bilingualism bonus.

During the grievance process, the parties agreed that the grievor's duties required that the incumbent be bilingual. As such, the linguistic profile was changed. The grievor was evaluated, and the language results were confirmed. The grievor was paid the bilingualism bonus retroactive to the date that the second-language evaluation confirmed that the language requirements of the position were met.

The grievor is requesting that the bilingualism bonus be paid retroactively to the date on which duties were carried out in both languages.

The Bargaining Agent representative maintained that although the position was unilingual French, the grievor had to carry out duties in both official languages; thus; the linguistic reclassification of the position was requested. The representative indicated that management always supported the fact that the operational and service needs justified that the position's linguistic requirements be bilingual. The Bargaining Agent representative is of the opinion that it is the responsibility of the Deputy Head to certify that the grievor met the position's language requirements, as set out in subsection 1.12.6 of the Directive.

The Departmental representative submitted that the grievor obtained the results of the grievor's last language test on the date on which the linguistic classification of the position in question was changed to bilingual. The departmental representative is of the opinion that the decision was consistent with paragraph 1.1 (b) of the Directive, which states that employees become eligible for the bonus when they occupy a position identified as bilingual and they obtain language results that meet the position's language requirements. As the grievor did not have a valid second-language evaluation results, the representative maintained that the grievor could not be paid retroactively the bilingualism bonus.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Official Languages Committee which concluded that the grievor was not treated within the intent of the Bilingualism Bonus Directive. The Committee noted that since the parties acknowledged that the employee carried out duties in both official languages, the grievor must have been eligible for the bilingual bonus. The department's negligence could not constitute a valid reason to avoid paying the bilingual bonus. As such, the grievance is upheld.

NJC Appeals

Dental and Disability Appeals

The Disability Board of Management is responsible for the overall administrative and financial management of the Disability Insurance Plan, including the review of the contract of insurance, review of any financial or service agreement, the financial status of the Plan, the services of the Insurer, the administrative fees and charges, the adequacy of reserves, the premium levels, the disposition of disputed claims, other matters referred to it by the NJC on the overall operation of the Plan, and for making appropriate recommendations to the NJC.

The Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part) is responsible for the overall administration of the Dental Care Plan, resolving members' complaints regarding eligibility or claims disputes with the Administrator, monitoring the claims settlement performance of the Administrator, and recommending changes to the Plan.

Both the Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part) and the Disability Plan Board of Management hear appeals on cases relating to the denial of benefits by the plan administrators.

During 2015-2016, 57 dental appeals and 21 disability appeals were decided by the two boards of management, compared to 46 and 23 in 2014-2015.

Appeals

The Disability Board of Management noted that mental illnesses, primarily depression and adjustment disorder, continue to remain the most frequent cause of new disability claims in 2015. This continues to be the experience across other Canadian disability plans.

The Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part) considered a number of appeals related to crowns, implants, orthodontia, dental exams, fillings, etc. The majority of the appeals considered by the Board in 2015-2016 addressed Plan limitations and late Claims. In addition to these, the Board of Management assessed 4 departmental errors, and granted 3 requests for coverage of a dependant.

Breakdown of Dental and Disability Appeals

 

Dental

Disability

Decided

57

21

Upheld

12

6

Denied

42

14

Upheld in part

1

1

Other

2

0


Annex

2016-2017 Yearly Planning Agenda

Priority

Objective

Expected Results

Next steps

Timeframe

Development of a Strategic Vision for the National Joint Council

Reconsider the long term vision for the National Joint Council, reassess its priorities, including the role of Council,  and identify whether this is an opportune time to re-position and/or re-brand the NJC.

All members of Council will have a clear understanding of the value of the NJC in the current context of the Public Service.

Stakeholders will become re-engaged and more involved with Council.

Develop a framework to be presented to the Executive Committee for approval.

Based on comments related to the framework, develop a draft deck of the Strategic Vision to be presented to the Executive Committee.

Amend draft deck based on any comments from the Executive Committee and submit for final acceptance of Executive Committee.

Present final version to Council for approval.

Identify how to communicate the Strategic Vision and/or repositioning to stakeholders.

Q2 – Framework.

Q3 – Draft of the Strategic Vision for the review of the Executive Committee.

Q4 - Finalization of review acceptance of the Executive Committee.

2017-2018 – Final document for approval by Council.

2017-2018 – Communicate Strategic Vision and/or repositioning of the NJC to stakeholders.

Joint Taskforce
on Mental Health

Identify the role for the National Joint Council with respect to supporting the work of the Joint Taskforce on Mental Health.

To play an integral role in supporting the work of the Joint Taskforce.

Invite the Steering Committee to an upcoming Executive Committee meeting with the intent of gaining a better understanding of  the Taskforce's vision of the role of the NJC.

Assess the resources required to meet the expectations/vision set out by the Steering Committee (additional staff, budget, etc.).

Set-up the framework required to move forward with any expectations.

Q3 – Invite the Steering Committee to the Executive Committee.

Q4 – Assess the resources based on expectations of the Steering Committee and set-up any framework required.

Joint Taskforce on Diversity and
Inclusion in the
Public Service

Identify the role for the National Joint Council with respect to supporting the work of the Joint Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion in the Public Service.

To play an integral role in supporting the work of the Joint Taskforce.

Invite the Steering Committee to an upcoming Executive Committee meeting with the intent of gaining a better understanding of  the Taskforce's vision of the role of the NJC.

Assess the resources required to meet the expectations/vision set out by the Steering Committee (additional staff, budget, etc.).

Set-up any framework required to move forward with expectations.

Q2– Work with Co-Chairs to provide any necessary information.

Q3 - Invite the Steering Committee to the Executive Committee.

Q4 – Assess the resources based on expectations of the Steering Committee and set-up any framework required.

NJC By-Laws

Review the By-Laws to reflect legislative changes made between 2008 and today.  Ensure current practice and amended processes are reflected in the documentation.

Revised By-Laws that adhere to current practice and are clear, concise and easy to understand.

Present the Executive Committee with a draft version of the By-Laws (and amended Constitution) for review and discussion.

Amend the By-Laws based on comments from the Executive Committee.

Translate the document.

Present the By-Laws to Council for approval.

Recommend any agreed changes to the Constitution to the Governor in Council.

Q1 – Present a draft version of the By-Laws and Constitution to the Executive Committee.

Q2 and Q3– Executive Committee to discuss the proposed amendments.

Q3 and Q4 – Executive Committee to accept final version and present the document to Council for approval.

Q4 – Revised document to be released and recommended changes, if any, to the Constitution be proposed to the Governor in Council.

Information Sharing/ Consultations/ Co-Development

Ensure that Council meetings are maximized by scheduling 2-3 pertinent consultations/ information sharing presentations per meeting.

Council members will deem the meetings to hold value in both content and networking.

Committee Chairpersons will take a more active role in reporting on successes, challenges and critical issues on behalf of their Committee.

Attendance on the part of members, as well as Chairpersons, should increase if meaningful consultations become the focus of these quarterly meetings.

General Secretary to meet with all Committee Chairpersons to discuss more active role at Council.

Ongoing communication with the Public Service Commission Outreach team in terms of bringing forward consultations to the Council.

Contact all Deputy Heads, inviting them to present or consult with Council should they be moving forward with an initiative that impacts the Public Service at large.

Ongoing communication with the LR Council and HR Council to identify any consultations that may stem as a result of conversations at these venues which need to be brought forward to the NJC.

Q1 – General Secretary to meet with all Committee Chairpersons.

Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 – Ongoing communication with the PSC Outreach team and LR/HR Council.

Q2 – Send letter to Deputy Heads inviting them to share/consult initiatives that are Public Service wide.

Communications/ Outreach – Speaking Engagements

To increase the visibility of the National Joint Council as a forum for information sharing, consultation and co-development through speaking engagements and website renewal.

Speaking Engagements:

Continue to make presentations to LR Council and other interested organizations (Bargaining Agents, educational institutions, etc.) on the role of the NJC and its value.

Speaking Engagements:

Remain in touch with LR Council and continue to reiterate at Council meetings that presentations on the role and structure of the NJC can be provided to any interested stakeholders.

Speaking Engagements:

As requested throughout Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4.

Communications/ Outreach (cont'd) – Website Renewal

 

Website Renewal:

Ensure technology compatibility.

Support mobile and real-time benefits.

Remove the issue of system failure given how outdated the current system is.

Create a more user-friendly interface.

Website Renewal:

Continue to work with the IT contractor on finalizing the changes to the system.

NJC Secretariat CS to test the system and ensure all current platforms and documentation have been carried over.

After basic systems are updated to comply with current technology, assess whether rebranding should take place based on Executive Committee approval of the proposed Strategic Vision.

Website Renewal:

Q2 – IT contractor to finalize system changes.

Q2 – NJC Secretariat to test new system.

Q3 – New website and administration system to be launched.

Q3 and Q4 – Assess need for rebranding of the website based on approval of strategic vision.

Training – Labour Relations Advisors

To provide NJC specific training to the following groups:

Labour Relations Advisors

½ day courses focused on preparing labour relations advisors for final level hearings at the NJC.

Courses will be provided based on demand, both in the National Capital as well as in the regions.

Training for Labour Relations Advisors:

It is anticipated that this will result in less objections submitted before the Executive Committee, in addition to improve the quality of presentations given to working committees and hence, reducing the number of impasses.

Training for Labour Relations Advisors:

Continue to assess the demand for training in the NCR as well as other regions.

Assess the resources at the NJC Secretariat to provide on-demand training (i.e. budget, priorities, staff availability).

Revise training material on a regular basis based on comments from feedback surveys.

Training for Labour Relations Advisors:

Review of training material – ongoing.

Each quarter assess the resources and demand for training.

Q1 – 3 sessions scheduled.

Q3 – anticipate 2-3 sessions to be scheduled.

Q4 – anticipate 1-2 sessions to be scheduled.

Training (cont'd) – Working Committee Members

Working Committee Members (Joint Training):

A full day training session will continue to be provided once a  year to provide new Committee members with an understanding of the structure of the NJC as well as their role.

A mid-year assessment will take place to determine if sufficient Committee turn-over has occurred to offer the training more frequently.

Training for Working Committee members:

It is anticipated that Committee members will feel more confident in their role, their authority, as well as gaining tools which will allow them to be more likely in reaching consensus for both grievances and during the cyclical review process.

Training for Working Committee members:

Review training material based on 2015 feedback survey.

Assess committee member turnover in November.

Offer an additional training session in Q3 if necessary.

Training for Working Committee members:

Q1– Review 2015 feedback survey.

Q3 – Assess Committee member turn-over.

Q3 and/or Q4 – Provide training based on demand.

Training (cont'd) – Departmental Liaison Officers (DLOs)

Departmental Liaison Officers (DLOs):

Develop a ½ day training session for Departmental Liaison Officers to  provide them with an understanding of the structure of the NJC as well as their role.

Training for DLOs:

It is anticipated that this will reduce the number of questions from DLOs regarding the NJC grievance process and the role of the NJC.

Training for DLOs:

Survey stakeholders (DLOs and the Executive Committee) to identify gaps in knowledge to be included in the training.

Based on feedback from stakeholders and upon review of the documentation presented in our different training sessions, develop a training session for DLOs.

Assess resources of the NJC Secretariat to determine possible timing of training.

Review overall content of training with the Executive Committee and the UMR Committee.

Training for DLOs:

Q2 – Survey stakeholders for topics of interest and gaps in knowledge.

Q2– Develop a training module for the DLOs.

Q2 – Assess resources and determine timing of training.

Q3 – Review content of training module with Executive Committee/UMR Committee.

Q4 – Offer training module to DLOs.

Training (cont'd) – Middle Managers

Middle Managers:

-

Develop a training session to familiarize middle managers with NJC Directives.

Training for Middle Managers:

-

Managers will have a better understanding behind the intent of our Directives, key precedent cases that may assist them in interpreting the Directives, and a network of contacts should they have questions on administering the Directives.

Training for Middle Managers:

-

Have an overall discussion with the Executive Committee concerning focus of the training, options and impacts of developing the training with other players (i.e. CSPS, Middle Managers Network, etc.), and stakeholders who should be involved in the development of the training (i.e. OPIs, etc).

-

Contact both CSPS and the deputy of the middle managers network to seek engagement and an understanding of the format in which the CSPS would likely offer the training.

-

Develop training material based on feedback from discussions with the Executive Committee, OPIs and other stakeholders.

Training for Middle Managers:

-

Q2 – Overall discussion with the Executive Committee on direction for this training (following approval of draft strategic vision).

-

Q3 – Discuss content and possible training options with stakeholders.

-

Q4 – Develop training material.

-

Q1 2017/2018 – offer training to middle managers.

Training (cont'd) – Federal Councils

Federal Councils:

-

Develop a training session for Federal Councils focused on the role of the NJC and its structure, the relevance of the NJC across the regions, and how the two parties could mutually support each other.

Federal Councils:

-

Ensure that Federal Council members have a complete understanding of the NJC and to build relationships with the regions to better assist in communicating messages.

Training for Federal Councils:

-

Have an overall discussion with the Executive Committee concerning focus of the training.

-

Assess whether training should be provided in the NCR or in each of the regions, or held in conjunction with an NJC event (i.e. Seminar, etc.).

-

Develop the training material.

Training for Federal Councils:

-Q2– Discussion with the Executive Committee on vision for this training and assessment of resources and location.

-

Q3 – Develop the training module and provide an overview of the content to the Executive Committee for feedback.

-

Q4 – Deliver the training.

Dental and Disability Boards of Management - Governance

Ensure Dental and Disability Plans become NJC Directives (Bargaining Agent Side request).

-

Establish a new governance model for the NJC dental and disability plans, including modernized terms of reference.

-

Identify linkages that exist with respect to the governance of the PSHCP and the dental and disability insurance plans.

-

Obtain a better understanding of the governance issues in question.

-

Begin discussions at the appropriate level with respect to a change in the governance model.

-

The Bargaining Agent Side will discuss internally whether or not the NJC is the forum for these conversations and report back to Executive Committee.

Bargaining Agent Side to provide an overview of the situation, possible outcomes and impacts.

   

Q1 – BA internal discussions.

-

Q2 – Report back to Executive Committee.

-

Q2 – Provide issue paper.