General Secretary's Report

September 2019

Dear Members of Council:

I am honored to present the 2018-19 Annual Report to you in the backdrop of the 75th anniversary celebrations.  This report, my second as General Secretary, is an explanation of the NJC's work, its objectives and accomplishments during the past year, from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.  The report also includes the Yearly Planning Agenda for 2019-2020 developed by the Executive Committee and ratified by Council (see Annex).  This agenda summarizes the leading priorities of Council for the year ahead and the work expected on the diverse files that make up the NJC’s mandate.

As has been the case for several decades now, the National Joint Council (NJC) remains a unique organization that is first and always about the parties, their objectives and interests. Co-managed by the Employer and the Bargaining Agents, all matters falling under the auspices of the NJC are jointly considered and decided. As the ‘Forum of Choice” for consultation, the NJC complements collective bargaining, and through a collaborative framework, agreement on numerous terms and conditions of employment, as well as health-related benefits are concluded, which apply to well over 230,000 employees in the federal public service of Canada. It is successful given the demonstrated need for such a forum and because of the commitment and willingness of the parties to make it work.

The NJC is celebrating 75-years of collaboration in 2019, an achievement well worth lauding. The occasion provides an opportunity to collectively increase efforts to tell the NJC’s story to a wider public service audience. To this end the NJC Executive Committee established a comprehensive communications strategy and engagement plan with input from the parties. The plan identifies events and communications tools as well as opportunities for outreach and speaking engagements to public service audiences across the country. Further to this, the NJC Executive Committee has also approved a Strategic Plan for the organization which sets out overarching priorities to guide its work and to better orient Secretariat staff in terms of the overall objectives and expectations of members.

With respect to the day-to-day operations of the NJC, members of Council, from both sides, provide representatives for all committees and every matter is carefully considered together. The representatives 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.

The NJC model continues as it has for 75-years to occupy an important space in the overall labour-relations context in the federal public service. It remains that its record attests to its continuing effectiveness, and also to its resilience. However, the NJC cannot afford to remain static. Rather, it is defined by the evolving needs of its membership and to remain relevant and effective needs to adapt to those requirements. It has been and should continue to be that “safe space” for discussions on new or emerging issues that are facing the public service as an institution.

These realizations couldn’t have come without the steadfast efforts of the NJC Secretariat staff, which support the parties in all their endeavours.  While small in numbers, the NJC team is proficient in terms of working together to ensure that its clients are very well served. I take this opportunity to thank them on behalf of members for their dedication and hard work and for their contribution to the legacy of the NJC. I also want to thank them very much for their assistance during my inaugural year as General Secretary.

The NJC Achievements section of this report offers a brief summary of the some of the significant achievements of the various components of the NJC over the past year.

Consultations

Although the success of consultations is dependent on various factors, including the topic of any given consultation, continuous, open and rich communication remains key. Striving for open and meaningful consultation is the unremitting goal. Meaningful consultations require transparent discussions and should involve early engagement whenever possible. Over this past year, several topics of consultation arose on a number of subject matters. The NJC facilitated discussions with regard to the legalization of Cannabis, the Public Service Commission’s Annual Report for 2017-2018, the GC Talent Cloud project and public service renewal in the context of the Privy Council Office’s Beyond2020 initiative. It also consulted with the Quebec Federal Council on its various endeavours and the incoming Chief Human Resources Officer on her vision for labour relations in the federal public service.

Communications and Outreach

The NJC re-established a Communication and Engagement Plan this year, with a view to reaching more federal public service employees so that they may understand how the NJC works for them. The plan, which is evergreen, provides a list of opportunities and tools to promote the NJC. In this same vein, the NJC has made its foray into the world of social media, with the launch of its Twitter account (@NJC_CNM). This provides another avenue to reach-out to members and clients and to quickly disseminate relevant information on changes to the NJC directives and related products. Of course, the NJC website (www.njc-cnm.gc.ca) continues to be the main repository of information, and early this year was branded with the 75th anniversary logo.

The following are examples of other NJC accomplishments during 2018-19:

As I move into my second year as General Secretary, I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead, bolstered by the ongoing commitment of the parties to the NJC and its processes. I also look forward to celebrating its achievements of the last 75-years and to contributing to its history. My most sincere congratulations to all that are involved with the NJC, as it continues to demonstrate what can collectively be attained through collaboration and cooperation.

 

Sean Ross
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 87 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 respectively, supported 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

National Joint Council Organizational Structure

 

Executive Committee Members
(April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019)

Employer Side:

Chairperson:

Sandra Hassan, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada

Vice-Chairperson:

Dan Danagher, Global Affairs Canada

Representative:

Zaina Sovani, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (since November 2018)

Secretary:

Stuart Wright, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (until July 2018)

Toni Vincelli-Mosley, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (since July 2018)

Bargaining Agent Side:

Co-Chairpersons:

Jean-Marc Noël, Canadian Military Colleges Faculty Association

Vice-Chairperson:

Robyn Benson, Public Service Alliance of Canada (until May 2018)

Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada (since May 2018)

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 (until June 2018)

Sean Ross, National Joint Council Secretariat (since June 2018)

Secretary:

Elizabeth Shum, National Joint Council Secretariat

Committee Chairpersons
(April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019)

Foreign Service
Directives Committee: 

Sean Ross, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (until September 2018)

Denis Trottier, Transport Canada (since September 2018)

Government Travel Committee:

Janelle Wright, Finance Canada

Isolated Posts and Government
Housing Committee:

Tracey Sametz, Transport Canada

Joint Employment
Equity Committee:

Nadine Huggins, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (until September 2018)

Erika Henley, Transport Canada (since October 2018)

Carl Gannon, Public Service Alliance of Canada (until August 2018)

Eddy Bourque, Canada Employment and Immigration Union (since January 2019)

Occupational Health and
Safety Committee:

Stéphane Cardinal, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (until December 2018)

Denis St-Jean, Public Service Alliance of Canada (since January 2019)

Official Languages:

Michelle Laframboise, Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (until April 2018)

Julie Desroches, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (since April 2018)

Relocation Committee:

Trevor Sanders, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Service-Wide Committee on
Occupational 
Health and Safety:

Don Graham, Treasury Board Secretariat (until January 2019)

Bob Kingston, Public Service Alliance of Canada (until September 2018)

Fabian Murphy, Public Service Alliance of Canada (since January 2019)

Union-Management
Relations Committee:

Cathie Fraser, Research Council Employees' Association

Workforce Adjustment Committee:

Greg Gauthier, Finance Canada (until May 2018)

Nancy Taillon, Library and Archives Canada (since November 2018)

Dental Care Plan Board
of Management 
(NJC Part):

Peter Cooney

Disability Insurance Plan
Board of Management:

Monique Paquin (until October 2018)

Barry Fennessy (since October 2018)

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 in 2018-2019.

Foreign Service Directives (FSD) Committee

The Committee continued to hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. The Committee also approved a number of regularly adjusted annual rates which were published on the NJC website. In addition to its regular work, over the course of the reporting period, the Committee devoted an extensive amount of time to completing its review of the new Foreign Service Directives, which came into effect April 1, 2019.  Highlights of Changes and Questions & Answers were developed and posted on the NJC website to assist respective communities in navigating through the changes.

Government Travel (GT) Committee

The Committee continued to hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. In addition to this, at the end of March 2019, the Executive Committee referred the Commuting Assistance Directive to the Government Travel Committee for the cyclical review of the Directive.  The Committee is eager to review the Directive over the coming year and anticipates presenting a revised version of the Directive to the Executive Committee in late 2019.

Isolated Posts and Government Housing (IPGH) Committee

In addition to the careful consideration of and the provision of recommendations to the Executive Committee on grievances, the Committee continued to approve periodic updates to the various allowances. The Committee also worked diligently on a number of initiatives. In February 2019, the Committee released a Communiqué providing guidance on Vacation Travel Assistance – what it is, how it is established, how often it can be requested, as well as pertinent examples of how it is calculated. The Committee also referred a dispute on the 2017 Review of the Environment Allowance to the Executive Committee for consideration. At the end of the reporting period, agreement had been reached on three of the four outstanding items through facilitated discussions. The remaining issue was referred by the Executive Committee to a neutral third-party adjudicator for a decision. The Committee anticipates receiving a final decision later in 2019. Finally, the Committee continued to work on the development of a revised Shelter Cost Differential (SCD) methodology, given that the previous methodology could no longer be applied as of 2013 as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation ceased to calculate the base shelter value, a component of the SCD. Since that time, an interim methodology has been in place. The Committee continues to have meaningful conversations to reach consensus on a way forward.

Joint Employment Equity Committee (JEEC)

The Joint Employment Equity Committee (JEEC) was consulted on a number of Public Service Wide initiatives including: the Joint Learning Program’s Occupational Health and Safety Joint Study; Public Services and Procurement Canada’s GCWorkplace Vision; the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer’s (OCHRO) Diversity and Inclusion Strategy; OCHRO’s Directive on Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion as part of the Policy Suite reset; the Labour Program’s proposed regulatory framework regarding Bill C-65 and the Privy Council Office’s Beyond2020 Initiative. In each of these instances the Committee provided meaningful feedback from an Employment Equity lens.

In addition, a number of Departments provided updates on initiatives for information purposes. These included: the Public Service Commission’s Anonymized Recruitment Pilot Project, OCHRO’s process and methodology behind calculating labour market availability rates and workforce availability rates; as well as a presentation from Statistics Canada on the trends in immigration and citizenship attainment.

The Committee continues to seek updates regularly with respect to the status of a review of the Employment Equity Act. The Committee has on multiple occasions noted that the Act has not been reviewed in fifteen (15) years and given the report of the Joint Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, members of the Committee are of the view that this would be an appropriate time for review.

Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committee

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee did not meet over the course of the last year.  Members of the Committee; however, worked diligently on representing their respective Side in providing input for the upcoming cyclical reviews of the Occupational Health and Safety Directive, Uniforms Directive and the First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees. The Committee is looking forward to undertaking a review of the Directives in the upcoming year.

Official Languages (OL) Committee

The Official Languages Committee presented their Report on the State of Bilingualism in the Public Service to various stakeholders such as the Centre of OL Excellence at the Treasury Board Secretariat, Heritage Canada, the Council of the Network of Official Languages Champions and the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. The purpose of these presentations was to facilitate discussions and to find ways to implement the Report’s recommendations.

The Committee responded to the recommendations and findings from the Borbey-Mendelsohn Report as well as the Report on the State of Bilingualism in the Public Service by exploring an interest to jointly modernize the Bilingualism Bonus Directive. In that regard, the OL Committee received a presentation on the bilingualism bonus from the Treasury Board Secretariat and Committee members began consultations with their respective organizations to establish if there is interest to reopen the Bilingual Bonus Directive as part of the cyclical review process.

The OL Committee also reviewed the report Millennial Voices: Informing the Future of Canada’s Public Service and provided feedback to its authors, and in turn, to the remaining existing network of the Public Service Inter-Union Youth Caucus.

Relocation (RELO) Committee

The Committee continued to manage its caseload, hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. The Committee also advanced its progress on the cyclical review of the Directive and continues to work diligently to co-develop revisions which will address systemic issues regularly seen by the Committee. It is anticipated that the new Directive will take effect at the outset of the next fiscal year.

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

The Committee continued to provide support and guidance to Departments/Agencies while also serving as a joint consultative body for various programs and initiatives in the Public Service.

Presentations and/or consultations were conducted on emerging issues such as the legalization of cannabis, activity based working models (e.g. GCworkplace and GCcoworking), as well as workplace well-being initiatives.

Departments/Agencies continue to have difficulties with respect to identifying competent persons in accordance with the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR). As such, the Committee conducted a scan of all Departments/Agencies and developed tools to address apparent gaps. Resources include a step-by-step procedure for responding to workplace violence, as well as a communiqué to assist in navigating through the competent person selection process and use of the National Master Standing Offer.

In carrying out its work, the Committee remained cognizant of the impending changes Bill C-65 would introduce and participated in extensive consultations with the Labour Program regarding the draft Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations. In addition to this, the Committee was consulted by the Treasury Board Secretariat on its draft Directive on Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment and Violence.

Finally, Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) training was a reoccurring interest for the Committee. Following discussions on the Joint Learning Program’s OHS Committee Learning Needs Study and the Canada School of Public Service’s OHS curriculum, the Committee recognized a need to ensure that all employees in the Public Service receive a basic standard of OHS training to better understand their roles and responsibilities. While still early in the process, the Committee will continue to dedicate a significant amount of its time to developing an OHS curriculum for all employees. 

Union-Management Relations (UMR) Committee

The Committee coordinated the planning of the 2018 NJC Seminar held in Montreal, Quebec. The theme of the 2018 Seminar was “The Future of the Public Service”. Amongst the guest speakers featured were Kevin Page, President and CEO, Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy, University of Ottawa, Michael Ferguson, Auditor General of Canada and Joe Friday, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. Some of the topics addressed included: Mental Health in the Workplace, Bill C65 – The New Landscape of Harassment Prevention and Safety in the Workplace and Non-traditional Gender Roles.

The Committee also began preparations to commemorate the NJC’s 75th anniversary throughout 2019.

Work Force Adjustment (WFA) Committee

The Committee dedicated a significant amount of time to completing its review of the new Workforce Adjustment Directive, which came into effect January 1, 2019. Highlights of Changes and Questions & Answers were developed and posted on the NJC website to assist respective communities in navigating through the changes.

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 2018-2019 addressed Plan limitations and late Claims. In addition to these, the Board of Management granted 3 requests for coverage of a dependant. Throughout the year, the board requested information from the Service Provider, Great West Life, to determine whether there is overuse or misuse of dental procedures.

Following negotiations and an arbitration process, a decision between the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Public Service Alliance of Canada was issued October 1, 2018, and the award covers a three year period commencing January 1, 2019. The same offer was extended and accepted by all the components, including the NJC, and resulted in revised Plan rules.

Disability Insurance (DI) Plan Board of Management

The Board took the opportunity to endorse Plan member participation in a voluntary study between Sun Life and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Assurex Health. The impact study involves researching the effectiveness of Pharmacogenomic testing in the treatment of depression and the pilot study will be completed in the summer of 2019. The Board continued to work towards improving the disability claim process by providing feedback to Sun Life regarding the revised Employer and Employee claim forms for disability insurance. The Board also improved communication to appellants by changing internal processes and ensuring decision letters are issued expeditiously. In an effort to appreciate and gain a thorough understanding of the claims submission and decision making process, Board members attended a full day training session at Sun Life headquarters in Montreal. Members were provided with an overview of the different considerations at each level of appeal as well as changes to Sun Life’s internal process.

As in past years and in accordance with its mandate, the Board continued to examine and provide recommendations to Sun Life regarding appeals, and closely monitored the Plan’s financial position. Following presentations from Sun Life and OSFI, coupled with an examination of the most recent financial reports in the context of the financial forecast for the next few years, the Board arrived at a consensus to support a recommendation of a 20% premium increase as soon as administratively possible.

Public Service Health Care Plan Partners Committee

The Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) Partners Committee monitors, analyzes and makes joint recommendations on all aspects of the PSHCP, such as Plan administration and design, governance, Plan usage, cost-management, and any other issues related to the Plan.

The Committee also monitors and makes joint recommendations on any and all issues that may indirectly or directly affect the PSHCP, such as changes in the health care industry, trends in employer-sponsored health care benefit plans, changes to Provincial/Territorial health care policies, or advancements in medical and pharmaceutical technology.

Over the course of the year, the Committee met a total of 6 times. The Committee considered the results of a benchmarking study and opportunities to improve the PSHCP identified through a data analytics survey. The Committee also developed a framework for the upcoming PSHCP renewal discussions.

Public Service Health Care Plan Technical Committee

The Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) Technical Committee supports the PSHCP Partners Committee in the fulfillment of its mandate. In so doing, it monitors, analyzes and makes joint recommendations on aspects of the PSHCP, as directed by the PSHCP Partners Committee.

Over the course of the year, the Committee met a total of 7 times. The Committee focused its efforts on considering a number of minor Plan amendments with a view to clarifying Plan provisions. It also considered the results of a benchmarking study and opportunities to improve the PSHCP identified through a data analytics survey.

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

Reference: Federal Public Service Health Care Plan Administration Authority

NJC Directives and Plans: Well over $2.5 billion in payments

*These amounts are from 2017-2018, as the amounts for the reporting period were not available at the time this report was published

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 152 regular meetings and sub-committee meetings this past year, which represents an 8.5% increase from the previous year, and ensured follow-up on all meetings. The Secretariat also facilitated other special union-management consultations, 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 2018-2019

Committee

Number of meetings

Dental Care Plan Board of Management

 5

Disability Insurance Plan Board of Management

10

Executive Committee

 7

Foreign Service Directives Committee

49*

Government Travel Committee

 5

Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee

 6

Joint Employment Equity Committee

 4

National Joint Council

 4

Occupational Health and Safety Committee

 0

Official Languages Committee

 5

Public Service Health Care Plan Partners Committee

 6

Relocation Committee

16*

Service-Wide Occupational Health and Safety Committee

26*

Union-Management Relations Committee

 9

Work Force Adjustment Committee

 0

*Includes sub-committee meetings

NJC Grievances

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

During the 2018-2019 year, 26 new grievances were received. In the course of the year, 28 grievance files were disposed of and 26 remain outstanding.

Grievance Totals 2018-2019

Carried over from 2017-2018

28

New 2018-2019

26

Total 2018-2019

54

Disposed 2018-2019

28

Carry forward into 2019-2020

26

*Please note that the carried forward number reflected in last year’s
Annual Report should have read 28 grievances.

Of the disposed caseload, 10 grievances fell within the purview of the Government Travel Committee (grievances concerning either the Travel Directive or the Commuting Assistance Directive); 7 to the Foreign Service Directives Committee; 7 to the Relocation Committee; 3 to the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee, and 1 to the Occupational Health and Safety Committee.

Breakdown of Disposed Grievances 2018-2019

Upheld

 3

Denied

 9

Upheld in part

 1

Impassed

 5

Lacked Jurisdiction

 0

Untimely

 6

Withdrawn

 4

Other

 0

Total

28

Overview of some NJC Grievances

Travel Directive:

21.4.1107

The grievor is an employee of Department X working in City A. On December 28, 2010, the grievor was offered and accepted to work overtime before the grievor’s regular shift (contiguous overtime).

The grievor lives in City B and works in City A. As a result, the grievor is entitled to assistance under the NJC Commuting Assistance Directive.

After working the overtime shift and the regular shift on December 28, 2010, the grievor submitted a travel claim for the mileage incurred driving to and from work. The claim was denied and the grievance was filed.

The employee grieved that the employer had violated the NJC Travel Directive in denying the grievor’s request for transportation expenses on December 28, 2010.

The Bargaining Agent representative contended that the grievor was not treated within the intent of the Directive as it is their position that the grievor was entitled to reimbursement of mileage as per the Travel Directive as the grievor’s commuting pattern had been interrupted by the overtime. The grievor was called at home on December 28, 2010, and offered to work overtime immediately prior to a regularly scheduled shift. The grievor was scheduled to travel with a co-worker, in a car pool, and because of the overtime hours, the grievor had to drive to the workplace alone in the grievor’s personal vehicle (106 km each way). The amount requested was $109.18. The Employer denied the mileage requested under the Travel Directive but granted and paid Commuting Assistance in the amount of $26.04 for the return trip.

The Bargaining Agent referred to subsection 3.1.11 of the Travel Directive in place at the time:  “When authorized travel or overtime causes a disruption in the employee’s regular commuting pattern, the employee shall be reimbursed additional transportation costs incurred between the residence and the workplace.”

The presenter also referred to the NJC Communiqué: Kilometric Rates, Questions and Answers December 2005. It was argued that the NJC recognized when the normal commuting pattern of a car pool was interrupted the employee is to be reimbursed in accordance with the Travel Directive.

It was the Employer’s contention that the Travel Directive does not apply in this instance as the grievor was not “away from the workplace on government travel” and that there is no provision in the respective collective agreement to pay mileage for overtime that is contiguous to regular hours on a workday. On November 29, 2016, Comptrollership advised that the grievor was not entitled to the provisions of the Travel Directive as the grievor reported to work under the Commuting Assistance Directive.

The Employer’s position is that the Travel Directive is to ensure fair treatment of employees required to travel on government business. The provisions of the Directive are to provide for the reimbursement of reasonable expenses necessarily incurred while travelling on government business and to ensure employees are not out of pocket. These provisions do not constitute income or other compensation that would open the way for personal gain. Furthermore, the Bargaining Agent representative referred to subsection 3.1.11 of the Travel Directive. On the other hand, according to the Employer, the purpose of the NJC Commuting Assistance Directive is to help defray excessive costs incurred in employee’s daily travel to and from the regularly assigned work site on the days when they are required by management to report for work and so report. Normally, employees are expected to report for work at their own expense since they are free to choose where they will live.

The Employer representative explained that the grievor was paid 14 cents per km round trip for reporting to work as an entitlement under the Commuting Assistance Directive. This amount was paid regardless if driving alone or travelled as a passenger in a carpool. As a result, the grievor never incurred any additional transportation costs in reporting to the workplace.

The presenter referred to a FPSLREB decision: Ouellet v. Treasury Board, 2000 PSLRB 15. In this decision it was established that the grievor in this instance was also required to work overtime that was contiguous to the grievor’s normal hours; however, this was accomplished in a single trip. As a result, the costs associated with this trip were the responsibility of the grievor. In conclusion, it is the Employer’s belief that the grievor had been treated within the intent of the Directive and respectfully requested that the grievance be dismissed.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Government Travel Committee which concluded the employee had not been treated within the intent of the Travel Directive as the employee’s normal commuting pattern had been disrupted by the overtime hours. The grievance is therefore upheld.

21.4.1117

The grievor, based in City A, Province X, attended a training course in City B from March 14 to April 5, 2007. Prior to attending the course the grievor was provided with a “Pre-course Information Guide” which indicated breakfast would be provided by the hotel and some lunches and dinners would also be provided at the training facility. It was noted that participants could purchase breakfast in lieu of the meal provided by the hotel and a reimbursement would be issued upon presentation of receipts. The grievor also received a $3,300.00 travel advance.

Upon the grievor’s return, the grievor submitted two travel claims, one for each fiscal year covered, which included 23 breakfast, lunch and dinner allowances as well as daily incidentals. The grievor claims to have submitted receipts to the grievor’s unit’s administrative assistant for processing along with the claim. There is disagreement amongst the parties as to whether receipts were provided and, if yes, what became of them. The claims totalling $4,292.85 were processed and a payment of $992.85 was issued to the grievor. This represented the difference between the amount claimed and the travel advance. Finance subsequently audited the travel claims and disallowed the breakfast claims ($294.50) as no receipts were provided. 11 Lunch claims were also disallowed ($134.15) as meals were provided on these occasions. As a result, it was determined the grievor received an overpayment of $428.65.

The grievor is grieving management’s violation of the Travel Directive.

The Bargaining Agent representative indicated that the grievor submitted two travel claims for the grievor’s 23 day trip on April 24, 2007, as the period of time spanned over two fiscal years. The claims included 23 breakfasts, lunch and dinner allowances, as well as daily incidentals. On April 26, 2007 the claims were processed for payment. On the same date, the grievor’s program coordinator sent an email to the grievor indicating that a number of the lunches were provided as part of the training program and, as outlined in the pre-course information guide, the Department would not accept the breakfast expenses without receipts. As such, the grievor was responsible to repay the overpayment.

The Department received a cheque from the grievor for a portion of the amount, $134.15, the amount for the lunches in question, on September 20, 2007. The Bargaining Agent representative attested that the grievor did not submit the outstanding amount of the overpayment as the grievor was adamant that receipts were submitted to the administrative assistant responsible for completing the travel claim. Once the payment was issued, the grievor destroyed the receipts.

The Bargaining Agent representative noted that on October 15, 2007 the grievor requested to submit a lost receipt declaration to cover the breakfast allowances or file a grievance. The Department denied the request to submit a declaration given that the pre-course material clearly stated receipts were required, the grievor’s failure to confirm this before submitting a travel claim, and the grievor’s culpability in admitting claiming the lunch allowances contrary to policy. Given this, the Department returned the cheque to the grievor and garnished the grievor’s wages for the full amount of the overpayment.

The Bargaining Agent representative contends that the crux of the grievance in question is not with respect to money owed, but rather the principle of the fact that the grievor is adamant that receipts were submitted for out of pocket expenses and is being penalized for the grievor’s culpability with respect to the lunches. The grievor should have been allowed to submit a lost receipt declaration. As such, the representative requested that the grievance be upheld.

The Departmental representative stated that the grievor was well informed in advance of travel that supplemental breakfast expenses required the submission of receipts in order to receive reimbursement.

The administrative assistant in question stated that an employee would not normally be required to submit receipts for meals unless a traveller received direction contrary to subsection 3.3.9 of the Travel Directive. The Departmental representative noted that the administrative assistant was of the opinion that it should be the traveller’s responsibility to communicate this information so that the administrative assistant can complete the travel claim, otherwise the administrative assistant would not have known to accept the receipts and would have claimed all meals in accordance with Appendix C of the Directive.

The Employer representative contended that there is a possibility that the grievor provided the receipts, but did not advise the administrative assistant of their purpose and as such, the claim was completed to include all allowances for the 23 days in question. The Employer representative further noted that the grievor, by the grievor’s own submission, stated that the grievor was responsible for destroying the receipts sometime after June 2007 when the grievor was first made aware of the overpayment.

The Employer representative argues that the grievor was aware in June 2007 that his breakfast claims were disallowed. It was incumbent on the grievor to ensure that the necessary criteria were met in order to receive the reimbursement for the grievor’s alleged out of pocket expenses. Instead, the grievor signed off on inaccurate travel claim forms; it was the grievor’s responsibility to verify what was being claimed was correct. Furthermore the grievor did not submit a self-declaration. As such, it is the prerogative of the Employer representative that the grievor was treated within the intent of the Directive and as such, the grievance ought to be denied.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Government Travel Committee which concluded the grievor had been treated within the intent of the Travel Directive. It was noted that meals were provided at the training facility and that per subsection 3.3.9, it is the responsibility of the traveler to retain receipts. The grievance is therefore denied.

NJC Relocation Directive:

41.4.125

The grievor worked for Department A located in Province X since August 2007. In July of 2011, the grievor received and accepted a new position located in City F, Province Y effective September 12, 2011 with full relocation entitlements. Shortly after accepting the offer and prior to relocation, the grievor had made inquiries as to whether the grievor would be entitled to full benefits under the NJC Relocation Directive for the sale of the grievor’s house as the grievor’s son was also listed on the Land Title Certificate. The grievor was informed that because the grievor co-owned the property with the grievor’s son, any sale benefits would be distributed at 50%. The grievor relocated to City F in September 2011 and the house was sold on January 31, 2012. The grievor submitted a claim for reimbursement on the sale of the property shortly thereafter and the Contracted Relocation Service Provider (CRSP) advised that the Directive will only pay 50% of the sale proceeds as the property was co-owned. The grievor was given an opportunity to submit documentation to the contrary and around May 2012, the grievor was informed that the grievor’s documentation supports the position that the property was co-owned.

The grievor is grieving the Employer’s decision to not pay for the relocation as per NJC Relocation Directive.

The Bargaining Agent representative contended that the grievor was not treated within the intent of the Directive as the grievor was the sole beneficial owner of the property at all times. In 2008, when the grievor purchased the principal residence in City G, the grievor’s son was a dependant attending postsecondary education. The grievor’s son’s name was only added to the title as a “joint tenant” for cultural reasons, such that if anything were to happen to the grievor, as the oldest son, he would be responsible for caring for the family. The son eventually completed his studies, got married and moved out of the country in 2010.

In 2011, after being declared surplus, the grievor accepted a new position and relocated to City F, Province Y. Following the grievor’s relocation, the CRSP advised that because the principal residence was co-owned, benefits related to the sale of the home would be distributed at 50%. Following this decision, enquiries were made with the Department’s Relocation Coordinator as well as Treasury Board regarding its interpretation of co-ownership vs. joint tenants. The response the grievor received was that joint-tenants is considered the same as co-ownership and if the grievor claims to be otherwise, the grievor must provide an affidavit and legal documents explaining this and why the other name is on the deed.

Shortly thereafter, the grievor and the grievor’s son provided affidavits explaining that the grievor was at all times the sole beneficial owner of the property and that the grievor’s son was not involved with any expenses related to the property and was only a trustee. The Bargaining Agent representative elaborated that the grievor’s son was a bare trustee, having no independent powers, discretion, or responsibilities. Apart from having his name on the title, the son did not have any responsibilities for the property.

The Bargaining Agent representative indicated that property law in Province X is regulated by the provincial Law of Property Act (LPA) and its definition of co-ownership differs from that of Treasury Board and should take precedent.

Although the LPA defines co-owners as including joint tenants or tenants in common, jurisprudence from the Court of the Province indicates that joint tenancy must fulfil the following four conditions, called unities:

Although the Bargaining Agent representative accepts that the unity of title and time exist, it was argued that the unity of interest and possession were not present. As per the affidavits, the son did not contribute to the mortgage or maintenance of the property and therefore his interest differed from that of the grievor at all times and the unity of interest did not exist. Furthermore, as the grievor had 100% control and responsibility of the property, at no time did the son have rights to it; therefore, the unity of possession also did not exist. As the unity of interest and possession were not present, the grievor and the grievor’s son cannot be considered joint tenants or tenants in common as per the LPA.

The Bargaining Agent representative provided further jurisprudence to support the argument that the grievor’s son was merely a bare trustee, having no independent powers, discretion or responsibilities and performing no duties related to the property.

As the principal residence was registered in Province X, the Bargaining Agent representative argues that the LPA’s definition and interpretation of co-ownership supersedes the Relocation Directive’s definition. As co-ownership could not be established under the LPA, the principal residence should not be considered co-owned as stipulated in section 8.6 of the NJC Relocation Directive.

The Departmental representative submits that the letter of offer signed by the grievor on July 12, 2011, indicated that the Employer would provide assistance to facilitate the grievor’s relocation if the eligibility requirements of the NJC Relocation Directive were met. On July 26, 2011, the grievor enquired with the CRSP concerning his son’s name being on the deed and explained that he and his wife assumed financial responsibility of the home. The CRSP indicated that because the deed had both the grievor’s and the grievor’s son’s name on it, the home was considered co-owned and benefits would be distributed at 50%. The grievor indicated that the grievor would consider the options for the sale of the home because of the circumstances.

The grievor sold the home in January 2012; however, the grievor did not take any steps to remove the grievor’s son from the deed and as a result, sales benefits were paid at 50%. Following this decision, the grievor provided the CRSP with an affidavit from the grievor and the grievor’s son. The CRSP advised that the affidavits would be forwarded to the grievor’s departmental coordinator, however, they could not reimburse the requested cost until a title or deed has been received indicating that the grievor was the sole owner of the property. No deed or title was provided demonstrating this. The grievor’s affidavits were later interpreted by Treasury Board and their response supported the position that the grievor and the grievor’s son were the legal owners of the property.

The Departmental representative submits that the grievor’s son was not a dependant at the time of sale and therefore, they legally co-owned the home and the grievor was correctly compensated at the rate of 50%. Furthermore, the grievor did not provide a title or deed showing him as sole owner of the property prior to the sale and therefore, did not provide information regarding the percentage of ownership the CRSP requires as outlined in section 8.6 Co-Ownership.

Regarding the Provincial Law of Property Act (LPA) and the four unities; although the bargaining agent representative submitted that the unity of possession and interest were not met, the Department argues the contrary. The unity of possession exists such that, as explained by the Bargaining Agent, should anything happen to the grievor, the son would assume the role of patriarch and take possession of the property, thereby fulfilling the unity of possession, as well as the requirements of being tenants in common under the LPA. Furthermore, although their affidavits suggests interests differed, they both had mutual interest in conferring responsibility of the property in the event anything happened to the grievor and therefore met the unity of interest.

The grievor was previously advised by the Contracted Relocation Service Provider (and later by Treasury Board Secretariat) that the grievor needed to provide a title or deed indicating sole ownership of the property and the grievor did not. Although the grievor and the son did provide affidavits stating that the grievor was the sole beneficial owner, the affidavits were dated five (5) months after the grievor sold the property and nine (9) months after the CRSP informed the grievor of the impact that co-ownership would have on the grievor’s entitlements.

The Departmental representative argues that if the grievor had every intention of being the sole owner of the property, he:

None of these actions were taken and in the absence of an application to sever, it appears the grievor intended to enjoy the benefits of joint tenancy (in the form of survivorship) as well as the benefits of having a bare trustee, where the grievor would be able to get full reimbursement as the sole owner of the property. The grievor is effectively asking the CRSP, the Department and now the Relocation Committee, to assume the role of the Court and determine that co-ownership did not exist, despite the express wording on the deed.

The Executive Committee reviewed the report of the Relocation Committee and noted that it could not come to an agreement on the intent of the Directive with respect to co-ownership. The Executive Committee could not reach consensus on this issue either. As such, the Committee reached an impasse.

41.4.127

The grievor was working at Location M in City A, Province F, for Department X and was living in City B, Province F. On November 1, 2012, the grievor was notified that the grievor’s services may no longer be required and therefore was an affected employee. On July 2, 2014, the grievor received a work force adjustment letter confirming the grievor’s services were no longer required and outlining the grievor’s options. Shortly after, the grievor applied for a position at Location N in City C, Province G. In anticipation of a possible relocation, the grievor’s house was listed for sale on August 7, 2014, at the price of $64,900. On September 15, 2014, the grievor accepted the position at Location N with full relocation benefits and a file was opened with the Contracted Relocation Service Provider (CRSP) on September 18, 2014. On October 21, 2014, the property was appraised at $58,000 with a recommended list price of $63,900. On December 9, 2014, the grievor reduced the price to $59,900 and again on June 30, 2015, to $55,100.

As of November 2015, the house was still on the market and the grievor submitted a business case for a 6-month extension to the Program Authority. This request was denied on November 18, 2015 and a grievance was filed on December 24, 2015. It should be noted that the grievor’s residence sold on May 6, 2016 for $43,500.

The employee is grieving that the Relocation Directive is not being applied in a fair and equitable manner in relation to the grievor’s move from Province F.

The Bargaining Agent representative’s position is that the grievor tried to meet the requirements of the Relocation Directive but communications with the CRSP lacked clarity and consistency. The grievor dealt with several different CRSP agents resulting in inconsistent advice, most of the communication was verbal and written direction was kept to a minimum. Had the level of service been more consistent, the grievor could have been better informed of the requirements for requesting an extension of time prior to September 2015. Furthermore, the grievor was never informed that section 8.3 Home Sale Assistance was available. It was argued that CRSP representatives did not offer the grievor reasonable opportunities to maximize the benefits available and had the grievor known about the various requirements and entitlements in the Directive, the property could have been sold within the allotted timeframe.

Although the Employer cited delays in submitting the market-activity reports (MAR), it was indicated that this was beyond the control of the grievor. The grievor’s first realtor was not comfortable with preparing the reports and the second realtor indicated that computer problems caused delays. The grievor relied on the realtor to market and sell the home in line with the appraised value; unfortunately this reliance was to the grievor’s detriment.

CRSP representatives were primarily focused on receiving MAR but never informed the grievor of the requirements when listing the property. The grievor was not aware that refusal to lower the price to the appraised value would render the grievor’s home as “not actively marketed”. That being the case, it was argued that the residence was only outside the recommended range for a period of 5 months and during the low peak season. Furthermore, the realtor submitted a sale/marketing overview to the CRSP indicating that the period from November 2014 to June 2015, proved to be the worst forecast for sales as inclement weather was experienced, the economy had dropped and businesses were going bankrupt.

Finally, it was requested that this grievance be upheld under compassionate grounds. The grievor had health problems and did not totally comprehend what was required. The grievor struggled with the stress and burden moving to a new city, adapting to a new workplace, selling a home in another province, while caring for the needs of a dependent sibling. As a result of all these factors, the grievor suffered a great financial loss and the request for an extension of time was unreasonably denied.

The Departmental representative’s position is that the grievor did not demonstrate exceptional circumstances that justified an extension of time.

The Program Authority took into consideration the Market Activity Reports (MAR) which indicated an overabundance of properties and despite suggested price reductions from realtors, the grievor only lowered the price twice and the list price was consistently above the recommended range. The grievor lowered the price to $59,900 in December 2014; however, when the MAR started being provided in February 2015, it indicated a recommended list price of $49,000 to $54,000. An additional MAR was completed in March 2015, which suggested a list price of $52,500; however, in June 2015, the grievor only reduced the price to $55,100. Given the circumstances, it was argued that exceptional circumstances were not present to justify an extension to the relocation period.

The Departmental representative noted in the grievor’s Business Case that references were made to decreased home sales, decline in the local economy and severe weather conditions; however, these factors were not reflected in the grievor’s listing price throughout the relocation period. As the residence was determined to not be actively marketed, the Department commenced recovery of previously approved TDRA.

In line with past precedents, the grievor’s property was listed higher than the appraised value and the inability to dispose of the principal residence within the allotted time frame was a result of the grievor’s own decisions. The list price was not competitively established and did not take into account the state of the housing market at the place of origin. The representative submits that the grievor had all the necessary information to make informed decisions with respect to effectively marketing and selling the property.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Relocation Committee which concluded the grievor had been treated within the intent of the Relocation Directive. The grievance is therefore denied.

Foreign Service Directives:

25.4.170

The grievor works at Department A. The grievor was posted to City D, Country Y and was scheduled to return to City E on August 28, 2017.

On July 27, 2017 the grievor was informed of the need to leave the grievor’s Staff Quarters (SQ) prior to August 13, 2017 due to it being allocated to an incoming officer. The grievor’s return date remained the same; however, the result was that the grievor had to prepare the household effects (HHE) for shipment earlier than anticipated.

The grievor initially intended to sell the grievor’s private motor vehicle (PMV) at post but was unsuccessful in doing so. On August 23, 2017, the grievor was asked if the PMV was to be shipped back to Country X. The grievor responded if it was still possible, yes.

The grievor returned to Country X on August 28, 2017 and on September 19, 2017, an advisor informed the grievor that given the grievor’s personal decisions, the PMV would not be shipped in the same container as the HHE and therefore, the grievor would be financially responsible for the cost difference ($4842) should the PMV be shipped.

Following exchanges between the parties on the issue as well as some internal consultations, the Department advised, on September 29, 2017, that the Department’s decision remained unchanged and that the grievor would be responsible for the additional cost of shipping the PMV back to Country X.

Following receipt of this interpretation, the grievor’s Bargaining Agent initiated the informal discussion process on October 24, 2017.

On October 31, 2018, the Department responded indicating that given the lateness of the decision to send the car back to Country X and the lack of attempt to consolidate the car with the existing HHE shipment the Department reconfirmed that the grievor remained responsible for the cost of the additional shipment of the PMV back to Country X. The grievor filed a grievance three days later.

The employee is grieving the Department’s refusal to approve the shipment of the PMV from City D, Country Y to City E, Country X at no cost to the grievor, as well as to ensure that storage costs accrued as a result of department and mission-induced delays and decisions are not transferred to the grievor.

The Bargaining Agent representative’s position is that the grievor should not be financially responsible for the shipment of the PMV or the storage costs associated while awaiting shipment or sale, given that these costs were attributable to actions of the Employer.

It was submitted that the grievor had intended to sell the PMV at post and only considered shipping it back to Country X when the coordinator at post presented this as an option. It was indicated that during this conversation, at no point was the grievor advised that shipping the PMV back to Country X would result in additional costs to the grievor and only became aware of the additional costs after returning to Country X. Although the Department argues that the grievor should have been aware of the potential for additional shipping costs; the grievor was never provided with any mission or departmental policy concerning this and nowhere within FSD 15.18 does it stipulate that PMVs must be shipped with HHE. It was noted when the grievor departed previous posts, the PMV was shipped separately from the HHE, at no cost to the grievor. It was also indicated that the day the grievor departed from post, the HHE had still not been shipped.

The Department’s position that the grievor made a personal choice to ship the PMV cannot be viewed in isolation given the proposal presented by the coordinator.

With respect to the Department’s argument regarding the grievor’s decision to have repairs done on the PMV, it was indicated that the Foreign Service Handbook actually encourages employees to have their PMV serviced by a mechanic prior to shipment and that doing so, would assist should there be a damage claim following shipment. It was also indicated that had the employee not been required to leave the SQ two weeks early, the PMV may have been ready with the HHE.

Finally, it was submitted that the grievor should not be responsible for the costs associated with the storage of the PMV while awaiting shipment or sale, as the additional time in storage was a result of the Department’s refusal to ship the vehicle at no cost and the delays in responding to the grievor and representative regarding the duties and taxes applicable when a vehicle is removed from diplomatic custody.

In light of the above, the Employer should be fully responsible for the costs associated with both the shipment of the grievor’s PMV and the storage costs accrued as a result of Department and mission-induced delays.

The Departmental representative’s position is that the grievor never intended to ship the PMV and that only after failing to sell it locally, was the late decision made to ship it back to Country X. While the grievor indicates that the coordinator presented this option, the grievor had the responsibility to contact the administrator to clarify and confirm whether or not it was still possible to consolidate the PMV with the HHE at such a late stage.

Subsection 15.18.1 indicates that the deputy head “may authorize” shipment of a PMV and therefore, it is not an entitlement. The Department submits that authorization is subject to the principles enunciated in the Application section of FSD 15, such that “it is the sole responsibility of the employer to determine the relocation assistance that should be provided (15.1.3)” and that all relocations be managed “at the most reasonable cost to the public (15.1.4)”. It was argued that the grievor’s late decision to ship the PMV prevented the deputy head from relocating the grievor at the most reasonable cost to the public as this resulted in the use of two 20-foot containers as opposed to one 40-foot container, which represents an added expense of $4,842.

In line with the purpose and scope of the FSDs, the grievor was provided with the necessary assistance to ship the HHE and could have shipped the PMV at the same time; however, the grievor made a personal decision not to exercise that option and by approving two weeks of body work prior to departing the post, it was evident that the grievor was in no rush to ship the vehicle back.

For all the above reasons, the circumstances and associated costs surrounding the shipment of the PMV were a result of the grievor’s personal decisions and the public should not be held accountable for the added expenses as a result of the grievor’s decisions.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Foreign Service Directives Committee which concluded the grievor had been treated within the intent of the Foreign Service Directive 15. It was noted that the grievor’s late decision to ship the PMV resulted in the use of two 20-foot containers as opposed to one 40-foot container. Given that the Department covered expenses up to the cost of a 40-foot container and only sought reimbursement of the difference, the department was found to have provided the necessary assistance required to ship the grievor’s PMV. Any additional expenses should be borne by the grievor as those expenses were a result of the grievor’s personal decisions. The grievance is therefore denied.

25.4.176

The grievor was cross posted from City A, Country F to City B, Country G effective August 7, 2017. Prior to commencing the posting, the grievor and spouse searched online for houses and subsequently took a House Hunting Trip (HHT) to City B.

The HHT was requested via an HHT Eligibility Form and approved by an FSD Client Advisor on June 22, 2017. On June 23, 2017 there was an email exchange between the grievor, the grievor’s spouse and a Relocation Assistant in City B about a property they were interested in. The grievor received a Posting Confirmation Form (PCF) on June 30, 2017, and took the HHT from July 9 to 13, 2017. On July 24, 2017, the grievor submitted an expense claim for the HHT.

The Department sought clarification from the grievor with respect to various aspects of the claim (i.e. cost of accommodations, travel plan…etc.). The grievor responded to the Department’s concerns; however, on November 17, 2017, the grievor’s claim for the HHT was ultimately denied.

The employee is grieving the refusal by Department X to reimburse, as per FSD 15.28, expenses incurred as a result of the July 2017 House Hunting Trip to City B, Country G.

The Bargaining Agent representative’s position is that the grievor undertook a pre-approved HHT, provided documentation substantiating the HHT and therefore, should be reimbursed expenses incurred for the HHT.

Although the grievor received approval for return airfare, it was indicated that the grievor elected to rent a vehicle on the way to City B due to it being more economical. Although this was not pre-approved, the Directive does allow for car rental expenses to be claimed.

Regarding the nightly accommodation rate, it was submitted that the pre-approved amounts were only estimates and should not be considered as maximums. The grievor was faced with limited availability due to the short notice booking which was partially attributable to the delays in receiving the PCF. Availability was further limited given the holiday season where accommodations were high in demand. It was submitted that these factors should be considered in determining the appropriate accommodation rate.

Regarding the Employer’s position that the grievor had already identified a residence prior to the HHT, it was argued the grievor’s online searches and ranking of potential homes does not negate the need for a HHT. It was submitted that online searches are a common practice and that the House Hunting and Relocation Guide actually encourages employees to use online house hunting tools prior to undertaking an in-person HHT. Furthermore, preferred options may be subject to change following in-person evaluations and sudden changes in availability.

The Employer’s contention that the grievor’s trip was merely to facilitate finalizing the lease may have been predicated on a series of emails between the grievor, the grievor’s spouse and the Department; however, it was highlighted that some of these exchanges occurred even before the grievor received the PCF and many after the HHT was approved. Furthermore, the correspondence confirms that the grievor was still considering other houses and later provided a list of 14 other properties visited during the HHT.

It should be noted that prior to taking the HHT, the grievor submitted an application to opt-up and increase the rent ceiling by two levels. This application was under review by the Department until the final day of the grievor’s HHT and given the uncertainty of the opt-up request; the grievor also submitted a rental application for an alternate property. Although the opt-up application was eventually denied, the grievor was able to negotiate the rent on the preferred unit within the rent ceiling and officially secured the residence on July 15, 2017.

While the Department has denied the grievor’s claim in full on the grounds that the grievor was not house hunting, the Bargaining Agent representative submits that given the variables described above, the supporting documentation validating the trip and the Department’s pre-approval of said trip, the grievor should be reimbursed the expenses of the HHT.

The Departmental representative’s position is that a HHT is not an entitlement and requires employees to be actively searching for a house. Given the sequence of events, it was argued that the grievor was not actively searching and that the purpose of the grievor’s trip was to facilitate the signing of the lease.

It was submitted that the grievor and the grievor’s spouse expressed interest in signing a lease for the property in question as early as June 23, 2017. On July 3 and 7, 2017, the Mission was involved in reviewing a draft lease for the property, handling inquiries from the Real Estate Agent regarding payment modalities and diplomatic clauses, as well as providing banking information forms. One day after arriving for the HHT, the grievor and spouse contacted the Mission to advise that they met the owners at the property of interest, would like to move towards finalizing the lease and would send a draft lease with rent amounts to be prepared for signatures.

Given the timelines, it is difficult for the Department to believe that the grievor was carefully and thoroughly looking at houses during the course of the HHT.

The Departmental representative also indicated that the Mission was contacted to review the list of properties that the grievor claims to have viewed during the HHT; with the exception of three properties, the rest either had no rental records or would not have been listed for rent during the appropriate month.

An HHT is not an entitlement; as the grievor had already identified a home, it cannot be demonstrated that the HHT was cost-effective. As such, the grievor was treated within the intent of the Foreign Service Directives.

When asked why the grievor’s HHT was not from the present place of duty (City A) to the new place of duty (City B) as per paragraph 15.28.1(a), it was indicated that the grievor was granted exceptional approval to travel from HQ (City C).

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Foreign Service Directives Committee which concluded the grievor had not been treated within the intent of the FSD 15. It was noted that the employee met all the conditions of an HHT insofar as being authorized; travelling to the new post; and securing a residence. With the understanding that the approved itinerary was City C to City B to City C, the employee should be reimbursed for admissible expenses under FSD 15.28. As such the grievance is upheld.

Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive:

27.4.127

The grievor, whose headquarters is City A, Province X, was injured outside of work hours and required urgent medical attention. As a result, the grievor was medically evacuated to City B where the grievor underwent surgery the following day. On the same day the grievor was injured, the grievor’s mother travelled from City C, Province Y, where she resides, to meet him in City B. During her stay in City B she incurred accommodation and car rental costs. The grievor was discharged from hospital and advised a medical follow up was required in two weeks’ time. The grievor elected to return to City C with the grievor’s mother by rental car. They overnighted mid-journey thereby incurring accommodation expenses and were met by the grievor’s father in City D. The remainder of the journey was completed in the grievor’s parents’ personal motor vehicle (PMV). The grievor stayed at the grievor’s parents’ home in City C and attended a follow up appointment there two weeks after the surgery. The grievor remained in City C for several more weeks before returning to City A via City B.

The grievor subsequently claimed reimbursement under the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive (IPGHD) for the following:

Based on documentation provided by the grievor, the Department determined the only eligible expenses under the IPGHD to be the grievor’s mother’s travel-related costs from the date of his admittance to hospital to his discharge, excluding her travel to City B, provided they are supported by receipts, and the grievor’s airfare from City B to City A.

The employee is grieving the Employer’s violation of the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive. On July 13, 2017, the grievor was advised of being denied reimbursement for medical travel related to an escort required while out of Province X. As a result, the grievor has been denied entitlements to which the grievor is entitled based on the proper interpretation and application of section 3.1 and all related sections, specifically paragraph 3.1.4(a) of the Directive.

The Bargaining Agent representative indicated that due to the circumstances of the injury, the grievor was medically evacuated to City B, where the grievor was told that an escort would be required upon arrival. The Bargaining Agent representative argued that given that the grievor did not have family at post and had a need for assisted care after surgery, it would appear reasonable and logical for the grievor to ask the grievor’s mother to be the escort. Once released from the hospital, the grievor was told a follow-up appointment in two weeks was required which could not be accommodated at post. In addition, the grievor was informed by the treating physician that the grievor would be unable to travel by airplane immediately after surgery. Given this, rather than the grievor remaining in City B for two weeks, the follow-up appointment was booked to take place in Province Y, allowing the grievor to travel by car with the grievor’s mother to destination and receive care from the family while the grievor convalesced awaiting the follow-up appointment which was scheduled for December 21, 2016.

The Bargaining Agent representative argued that although driving to Province Y to stay with the grievor’s family was a personal choice, this choice reduced the overall expenses that the grievor claimed. On December 21, 2016, at the grievor’s follow-up appointment, the grievor was informed that the grievor could not return to work for a minimum of six weeks. Although the grievor continued to reside with the family in Province Y during this time, the grievor did not submit any claims beyond December 21, 2016. The grievor had the last follow-up appointment on January 24, 2017, and returned to City A on January 29, 2017.

The Bargaining Agent representative then argued that while the Department’s first level reply for the grievance stated that the grievor’s mother is not considered an escort because she did not come from the employee’s headquarters, the representative stated that nowhere is this cited as a requirement in the Directive. The Bargaining Agent argued further that the cost of travelling by vehicle to Province Y was less than it would have been if the grievor stayed in City B, which would have included hotel and meal expenses. Based on this, the Bargaining Agent representative requests that the grievor receive compensation for the expenses being requested between December 5 and December 21, 2016 given that they are reasonable based upon the evidence presented. As such, the representative requested that the grievance be upheld.

The Departmental representative is of the opinion that the grievor was treated within the intent of the Directive and outlined three (3) distinct arguments.

Firstly, the Departmental representative highlighted that the escort did not travel from the isolated post to the location of treatment with the employee. Therefore, the grievor’s mother does not qualify as an escort. The Departmental representative noted that although the Directive does not mention that the escort has to reside at the employee’s headquarters, the period of travel in question where an escort was required, was the travel from the isolated post to the place of medical treatment. The Department considers that the first aiders of the Medivac were deemed to be the escorts for the grievor during this period of time.

The Departmental representative further argued that at no time did a physician determine the necessity of an escort during the grievor’s stay at the hospital. As such, the Department was not satisfied that the grievor’s mother was ever deemed to be considered an escort.

The Departmental representative’s second argument contends that travelling to Province Y was a personal choice. The Departmental representative noted that subsection 3.1.2 of the Directive is clear that the treatment and follow-up treatment should be at the nearest location in Canada, which, in this case, was City B. According to Frequently Asked Questions and Answers posted on the NJC Website, the Departmental representative noted that employees have no discretion on location.

The Departmental representative noted that it is evident that Province Y was not the closest location and that the grievor made a personal choice to stay longer after being discharged from the hospital. The Departmental representative stated that the inability for the grievor to fly following the surgery was in question because of vague details provided by the medical note stating that the grievor could not travel immediately after surgery. Without recommendation for a specific length of time from the doctor, the representative stated that it was impossible for the Employer to determine what would have been reasonable under the circumstances. Furthermore, the expenses that the grievor claimed while in Province Y were denied because there was no information to support that the follow-up appointment on December 21, 2016, could not have reasonably taken place in City A.

Finally, the Departmental representative argued that the grievor failed to consult with the Employer regarding travel plans. The Departmental representative noted that management has the authority to determine the most economical means of travel and transportation and should the employee elect a different mode of travel and/or transportation, the employee will bear the additional costs. Given the lack of communication from the grievor, the Departmental representative argued that the grievor is responsible for the additional costs.

The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee which concluded the grievor had been treated within the intent of the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive as the grievor’s mother was not deemed an escort for the purpose of the Directive. The grievance is therefore denied.

Work Force Adjustment

The Work Force Adjustment Committee did not hold any hearings during the reporting period.

Occupational Health and Safety

The Occupational Health and Safety Committee did meet during the reporting period.

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 2018-2019, 20 disability appeals and 32 dental appeals were decided by the two boards of management, compared to 40 and 28 in 2017-2018.

Further details with regard to the Boards activities and plan experience are contained in the Boards of Management annual report which is tabled separately.

Appeals

The Disability Board of Management noted that mental illnesses, primarily depression, generalized anxiety and adjustment disorders, continue to remain the most frequent cause of new disability claims in 2018. This continues to be the experience across other Canadian disability plans as well.

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 2018-2019 addressed Plan limitations and late claims. In addition to these, the Board of Management granted 3 requests for coverage of a dependant.

Breakdown of Dental and Disability Appeals

 

Dental

Disability

Upheld in part

 1

 0

Denied

18

18

Upheld

13

 2

Decided

32

20


Appendix

2019-2020 Yearly Planning Agenda

Priority

Objective

Expected Results

Next Steps

Timeframe

RELO Cyclical Review To complete the RELO Cyclical Review within the 2019-2020 fiscal year. That the Committee will have completed all negotiations and supporting documents for publication to allow for the implementation, subject to final approval, of the revised Relocation Directive within the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

RELO Committee to complete negotiations and draft supporting documents for publication

Executive Committee to review cyclical review report

Translation of new RELO Directive and supporting documents

Q1 – RELO Committee to continue and complete negotiations

Q1 – RELO Committee to develop supporting documents

Q1 – Executive Committee to review cyclical review report and Council to approve

Q2 – Executive Committee to review supporting documents

OHS Cyclical Review

To accomplish a portion of the OHS cyclical review, including those of the Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees, within the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

That the Committee will have completed at least 70% of the negotiations within the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

NJC Secretariat to receive results of the opting call letter and report back to the Executive Committee

Executive Committee to review results of opting call

OHS Committee to receive co-development and cyclical review procedures training

NJC Committee Advisor to work with the OHS Committee to co-develop the proposals mandated to them by the Executive Committee

Q1 – Executive Committee to review and decide on the results of the opting call

Q1 – OHS Committee to receive co-development training

Q1 through Q4 – OHS Committee to undertake cyclical review discussions
Commuting Assistance Cyclical Review To complete the Commuting Assistance cyclical review within the 2019-2020 fiscal year. That the Committee will have completed of the co-development within the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

Government Travel (GT) Committee to receive co-development and cyclical review procedures training

NJC Committee Advisor to work with the GT Committee to co-develop the proposals mandated to them by the Executive Committee

Q1 – GT Committee to receive interest-based negotiations training

End of Q1 through Q4 – GT Committee to undertake negotiations

Review of NJC networking and awareness activities To continue to promote the NJC and its activities via various networking and learning events. That the Union-Management Relations (UMR) Committee will continue to explore and utilize opportunities to promote the NJC and develop events to support the goals of the NJC

UMR Committee to identify guest speakers for June networking event and 75th anniversary reception

UMR Committee to work with PCO to develop content for its Innovation Fair

Coordinate and co-develop training event with the Labour Relations Council (LRC)

UMR Committee to review nomination for and select recipients of 75th anniversary award

Q1 – Finalize 75th anniversary networking event

Q1 – Co-develop content for Innovation Fair

Q1 through Q2 – Work with LRC to co-develop learning event

Q3 – Select recipients of 75th anniversary award

Q2 through Q3 – Organize 75th anniversary reception

Q2 through Q4 – Develop program for 2020 Seminar

Q3 – Co-host learning event with LRC

Q3 – Present 75th anniversary award
Information Sharing/Consultations/Co-Development

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

Share relevant information on a timely basis between Council meetings.

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.

Council members will benefit from timely information on consultations, directives and initiatives.

General Secretary will continue to meet with all Committee Chairpersons on a regular basis

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

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

General Secretary will continue to look for opportunities to make connections and spread awareness of the NJC

Q1 through Q4 – Ongoing communication with the PSC Outreach team and LR/HR Council

Ongoing - General Secretary to meet with all Committee Chairpersons

Ongoing – Information sharing

 

Communications Outreach

Speaking Engagements

In keeping with the NJC Strategic Plan, to increase the visibility of the National Joint Council as a forum for information sharing, consultation and co-development through speaking engagements and trade shows.

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

Remain in touch with LR Council and all Federal Regional Councils

Continue to reiterate at Council meetings that presentations on the role and structure of the NJC can be provided to any interested stakeholders

Q1 – CSPS PowerChat, PCO Innovation Fair and APEX Symposium

As requested throughout Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4

Communications Outreach

Online & Social Media Presence
To promote awareness of the NJC and its activities by increasing its online and social media presence.

Ensure website is maintained and supported over the course of the year.

Update website to include 75th anniversary logo.

Promote 75th anniversary award and post nomination form online.

Continue to develop Twitter presence.

General Secretary to provide regular updates on online and social media presence. Key documents to be posted over the course of the fiscal year

Q1 through Q4  - Regular updates to be provided by General Secretary

Q1 through Q4  - Promote NJC activities and 75th anniversary events

 

Training

Labour Relations Advisors

To provide NJC specific training to Labour Relations Advisors and management responsible for responding to NJC grievances.

Deliver 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

It is anticipated that this will result in less objections, in addition to improving the quality of presentations given to working committees and hence, reduce the number of impasses.

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

Q1 – Hold sessions in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton and Winnipeg.

Q2 – Schedule sessions in additional locations

Q2, Q3 – Hold sessions in additional locations, including NCR

Q4 – Review feedback and adjust training materials as needed

Review of training material – ongoing

Each quarter assess the resources and demand for training and report to Executive Committee and Council

 

Training

Working Committee Members

Continue to deliver a full day training session at least 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.

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

Assess committee member turnover in September

Offer an additional training session in Q3 and/or Q4 if necessary

 

Q1– Hold Joint Training session

End of Q2 – Assess Committee member turn-over

Q3 and/or Q4 – Provide training based on demand
 

Training

Working Committee Members – Cyclical Review

Deliver a 1.5 hour training session to Committee members who will be entering into cyclical review in the 2019-2020 fiscal year to better prepare Committee members with respect to interest-based negotiations as well as procedural steps with respect to the cyclical review process.

It is anticipated that Committee members will feel more confident in their role and have a better understanding of both interest-based negotiations and the steps in the cyclical review process itself.

Schedule dates for the training

 

Q1 – Provide training to those Committees entering into cyclical review in Q1 or Q2 (OHS Committee and GT Committee)

Training

Departmental Liaison Officers (DLOs)

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

A reduction in the number of questions from DLOs regarding the NJC grievance process and the role of the NJC.

Modify training based on feedback from pilot session

Investigate level of interest/need in community

 

Q1 – Modify training based on feedback from survey

Q2 – Revise training as required

Q3 - Offer training module to DLOs