- pdf version: General Secretary's Annual Report - 2019-2020sml.pdf (4.5 Mb)
To The National Joint Council
A year's overview - 2019-2020
April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020
Esteemed Members of Council,
It is once again my pleasure to submit to you the 2019-20 Annual Report. This report, my third as General Secretary, is an explanation of the National Joint Council's (NJC) work, its objectives and accomplishments during the past year, from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. The report also includes the Yearly Planning Agenda for 2020-2021 developed by the Executive Committee and ratified by Council (see Appendix). This agenda, which was influenced by the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic, 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.
For over 75 years, the National Joint Council has remained a unique organization that is first and always about the parties, their objectives and interests. Its governance provides that all matters falling under its auspices are jointly considered and decided by the parties. Its record through the years attests to its continuing effectiveness, and to its resilience. As a compliment to traditional collective bargaining, through a collaborative framework, agreement on numerous terms and conditions of employment, as well as health-related benefits are concluded at the NJC, which apply to well over 230,000 employees in the federal public service of Canada. With respect to the day-to-day operations of the NJC, members of Council, from both sides, provide representatives for all committees. 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 a variety of other issues with service wide application.
The NJC celebrated 75 years of collaboration in 2019 and the parties seized the opportunity to mark the occasion in different ways throughout the year. The culminating event was the award ceremony in December, whereat 10 individuals, selected by their peers, were recognized for their dedication and contribution to the NJC over the years. Equally noteworthy was the anniversary reception hosted by the Bargaining Agent Side in June 2019. This soirée provided NJC members and guests the opportunity to reflect on the work that has been accomplished throughout the decades, to renew old acquaintances and to begin to build new relationships. The 75th anniversary backdrop also furnished the NJC with a platform to increase its visibility in the Human Resources community and to reset its training curriculum in order to ensure the various representatives clearly understand what the NJC is all about, including its distinct grievance process.
The NJC’s achievements could not have been realized without the support of the NJC Secretariat staff, whom provide advice and guidance to the parties in all their endeavors. I wish to take this opportunity to thank them on behalf of all the members for their hard work and commitment and for their lasting contribution to the NJC. I also want to note that the Council was pleased to welcome CUPE Local 104 to its ranks this year, as its newest member.
The NJC Achievements section of this report offers a brief summary of some of the significant achievements of the various components of the NJC over the past year.
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 consultation 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, including: the Public Service Commission’s analysis of promotion rates and perceptions of employment equity groups; the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board’s roadmap for the future; Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Workplace Program and Pilot Project; the criteria for harassment and violence investigators as prescribed by the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations; Public Services and Procurement Canada’s initiatives to support federal science collaboration from an infrastructure perspective; and the Public Service Commission’s Annual Report 2018-2019.
Training & Outreach
The NJC Secretariat staff provided a number of learning events throughout the year aimed at different audiences, whether labour-relations practitioners, new committee members and chairpersons or Departmental/Agency Liaison Officers (DLO/ALO). The curriculum was reviewed taking into account feedback received from previous sessions and was delivered in many different centers across the country, including Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria. A session was also held last fall specifically targeted to new DLO/ALO. The feedback received by participants has been positive and we aim to have more sessions throughout the year, and we are looking to move these to a virtual platform.
The following are examples of other NJC accomplishments during 2019-2020:
- The cyclical review of the Commuting Assistance Directive was completed;
- The cyclical review of the Relocation Directive was completed;
- The cyclical review of the Occupational Health and Safety Directive, the Uniforms Directive and the First Aid to the General Public - Allowance for Employees continued;
- 75th Anniversary celebration activities (including awards ceremony);
- Outreach with the greater Labour Relations Community;
- Attendance at various workshops/tradeshows (e.g. APEX, CSPS, Ontario Region Innovation Fair, NCR Innovation Fair);
- Hosted a Power Chat on the NJC via the Canada School of the Public Service;
- Fostered awareness of the NJC, its mandate and initiatives through presentations to various audiences; and
- Provided training on the NJC and its grievance procedure to over 100 labour relations practitioners in various regions.
As I move into my third year as General Secretary, there is clearly an increased level of anxiety as we collectively deal with the challenges encountered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, I am bolstered by the thought that the NJC was born in equally difficult times and that the parties rallied at that time to create the space for discussion on matters of concern to all, such as health care. It may not always be easy; however, we shall persevere. Once again, congratulations on a fruitful year and thank you for your ongoing collaboration.
Created in 1944, the National Joint Council today includes nineteen (19) 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 232,000 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:
- by co-developing public service-wide terms and conditions of employment through “NJC Directives”;
- by co-developing public service-wide health care coverage;
- by providing joint management of health care plans;
- by developing and reviewing occupational health and safety policies and providing advice and leadership to departments and agencies in this field;
- by resolving employee grievances (NJC directives) and appeals (dental and disability benefits);
- by providing a forum for information-sharing, consultation and codevelopment on other policies and initiatives (e.g., employment equity, official languages);
- by sponsoring other activities to build strong relations among the parties.
- Opportunity to innovate
- Voluntary participation
- Jointly governed and managed
- Collaborative problem solving
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.
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.
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
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
Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 104 (CUPE 104)
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
|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)|
Toni Vincelli-Mosley, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (until February 2020)
Aline Taillefer-McLaren, Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (since March 2020)
Bargaining Agent Side:
|Co-Chairpersons:||Jean-Marc Noël, Canadian Military Colleges Faculty Association|
|Vice-Chairperson:||Chris Aylward, 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:||Sean Ross, National Joint Council Secretariat|
|Secretary:||Elizabeth Shum, National Joint Council Secretariat|
Denis Trottier, Transport Canada
|Government Travel Committee:||Janelle Wright, Finance Canada|
|Isolated Posts and Government
|Tracey Sametz, Transport Canada|
Eddy Bourque, Canada Employment and Immigration Union
Erika Henley, Transport Canada
|Occupational Health and
Denis St-Jean, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Julie Desroches, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Trevor Sanders, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (until March 2020)
Eric Saint-Onge, Environment and Climate Change Canada (since March 2020)
|Service-Wide Committee on
Occupational Health and Safety:
Renée de Bellefeuille, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Fabian Murphy, Public Service Alliance of Canada
|Cathie Fraser, Research Council Employees' Association|
|Workforce Adjustment Committee:||
Nancy Taillon, Library and Archives Canada
|Dental Care Plan Board
of Management (NJC Part):
|Dr. Peter Cooney|
|Disability Insurance Plan
Board of Management:
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 2019-2020.
Foreign Service Directives 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, the Committee highlighted concerns regarding countries with high economic volatility and the impact it has on Statistics Canada’s ability to provide accurate post indexes. Therefore, the Committee recommended that these post indexes be frozen until the quality of the data is sufficient. The Committee also monitored the roll-out of the new Directives, which included training sessions to help members understand the changes made to the Directives.
Government Travel Committee
The Committee continued to hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. The Committee also worked diligently on the cyclical review of the Commuting Assistance Directive, which was finalized in January. The Committee also created a Communiqué outlining the Highlights of the Changes to the Directive.
Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee
In addition to the careful consideration of and providing recommendations to the Executive Committee on grievances, the Committee continued to approve periodic updates to the various allowances. The Committee also continued to work on the development of a revised Shelter Cost Differential (SCD) methodology. The SCD is an amount which is payable to employees in private accommodation and in government housing at qualifying posts to help offset the higher shelter costs at these locations. An interim methodology has been in place to update the SCD on an annual basis since 2013. The IPGH Committee continues to work on developing a revised methodology.
Joint Employment Equity Committee
The Joint Employment Equity Committee (JEEC) was consulted on many initiatives including: the Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) Centre for Wellness, Inclusion and Diversity; the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) GCjobs Transformation initiative; the PSC’s Federal Internship Program for Canadians with Disabilities; the Office of Public Service Accessibility’s (OPSA) Nothing Without Us initiative to support the implementation of the Accessible Canada Act; the PSC's Public Service Renewal and Diversity Macrosimulation tool; and the TBS Policy Suite Reset and People Management Policy Suite. The Committee provided feedback with relation to Employment Equity (EE) and Diversity and Inclusion on these initiatives.
In addition, the Committee invited Departments to present a number of initiatives and to receive feedback from the JEEC with an EE and Diversity and Inclusion lens. These included: Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Labour Program’s application process for potential Workplace Violence and Harassment Prevention investigators; the 2019 results of the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer’s (OCHRO) Public Service Employment Survey (PSES); the PSC’s Staffing and Non-Partisanship Survey Results to the staffing promotion rates for Employment Equity groups; the TBS’s Public Service Employment Regulations (PSER) review; the Privy Council Office's (PCO) Beyond 2020 initiative; and the Canada School of the Public Service’s (CSPS) learning tools specific to respectful and inclusive workplaces and Indigenous learning.
Occupational Health and Safety Committee
The Occupational Health and Safety Committee met several times over the course of the last year to continue their cyclical review activities for the Occupational Health and Safety Directive, Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus has been on assisting the OHS community, therefore some of these cyclical review activities have been postponed. However, the Committee intends on continuing this work in the upcoming reporting year.
Official Languages Committee
The Committee contributed to discussions on official languages issues by receiving presentations from various stakeholders on topics such as the Beyond 2020 framework of the Privy Council Office (PCO), the results of a pilot project from the Public Service Commission of Canada on second language assessment for oral proficiency and on the work of the intergovernmental working group on the modernization of the Official Languages Act. The Committee used these opportunities to demonstrate its value as a forum for consultation on official languages issues in the public service. The Committee continued its discussions from the previous fiscal year with respect to the review of the Bilingualism Bonus Directive. After several months of discussions, the Committee provided a recommendation to the Executive Committee regarding this matter.
The Committee continued to manage its caseload, hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. The Committee also completed its review of the NJC Relocation Directive. The Committee developed communication tools including Questions and Answers and Highlights of Changes for eventual publication on the NJC website.
Service-Wide Committee on Occupational Health and Safety
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 consultations were conducted on various Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) issues such as: lead and drinking water; radon; a climate hazard study in the National Capital Area conducted by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC); the Accessible Government Built Environment Initiative; and competent persons rosters for harassment and violence in the workplace investigations. As in the previous fiscal year, the Committee was consulted on activity-based working models and visited some of the GCworkplace and GCcoworking facilities in order to provide input from an OHS perspective.
The Committee also continued its work from the previous fiscal year by reviewing and providing feedback on the draft Directive on Prevention and Resolution of Workplace Harassment and Violence from the Treasury Board Secretariat as well as the Labour Program’s draft Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations. In addition, the Committee has developed tools for departmental and agency policy committees. Recognizing the need to ensure that all employees in the public service receive a common and consistent OHS training and that a variety of training strategies and materials is used to educate employees on OHS, the Committee has developed an OHS training curriculum. This training includes 10 modules and covers the minimum training requirements under the Canada Labour Code, Part II. The Committee also developed two tools for workplace violence investigations, a standardized statement of work for appointing competent persons and an assessment tool for assessing the qualifications of competent persons.
Furthermore, the Committee issued a communiqué on the control of Legionella in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Finally, at the end of the fiscal year, the Committee began closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation as well as addressing issues such as personal protective equipment (PPE).
Union-Management Relations Committee
The Committee spearheaded several events to commemorate the NJC’s 75th anniversary. These included a FedTalk, information kiosk and workshop at the NCR Innovation Fair; a networking event at the Canadian Museum of Nature; a Power Chat via the Canada School of the Public Service; and the selection of recipients of the NJC Recognition Award. The Committee also coordinated the planning of the 2020 NJC Seminar to be held in Ottawa, Ontario. The theme of the 2020 Seminar was identified as “Communications in the Digital World”. The Committee secured a number of speakers from both the public and private sectors as well as academia. However, the event has been postponed to 2021 because of the pandemic.
Workforce Adjustment Committee
The Committee received updates from TBS on revisions to support tools such as documents for managers, Questions & Answers on the government intranet site and applicable Canada School of Public Service courses to reflect the new Workforce Adjustment Directive. Regular updates were equally received from the PSC in regards to the number of priority employees in the Priority Information Management System. The Committee also approved its evergreen work plan which recognizes opportunities for consultation on issues of mutual interest related to the Committee’s mandate.
Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part)
The Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part) considered a number of appeals related to overpayments and dental procedures such as crowns, implants, orthodontia, dental exams, and fillings. The majority of the appeals considered by the Board in 2019-2020 addressed Plan limitations and late claims. In addition to these, the Board of Management granted 3 requests for coverage of a dependant. As part of regular monitoring of the Plan, the Board reviewed the breakdown of claims, the summary of expenditures, and service levels on an ongoing basis. Over the course of the year, the board also continued to assess and review information from the service provider, Canada Life, formerly Great West Life, with respect to the prevention and detection of potential overuse or misuse of dental procedures.
Disability Insurance Plan Board of Management
The Board received presentations from Sun Life on the Plan Claimant Survey results based on new methodology which includes a comprehensive review of claimant satisfaction during the entire claims experience. Opportunities were identified for improvement to client relations and quality and communicated to the insurer who implemented changes to case manager coaching and training. The Board looks forward to year-to-year comparisons using this new methodology. Additional presentations were provided at the full day Board member training session at Sun Life headquarters in Montreal. Topics explored included the Subrogation Provision, the creation and role of Sun Life’s internal appeals board, and the disability online system for plan sponsors.
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 input from the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) regarding the continued deterioration of the financial position of the Plan, the Board agreed to recommend additional measures. It endorsed TBS’s solution which assumed the implementation of the 20% premium rate increase and a lump sum influx of funds by the Government of Canada by early 2020.
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 expanded on the existing framework for the PSHCP renewal discussions and undertook preparatory discussions. The Committee also consulted on temporary changes to the PSHCP considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
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 5 times. The Committee completed its review of minor Plan amendments and provided its recommendation to the PSHCP Partners Committee. The Committee also addressed concerns and the need for temporary changes to the PSHCP arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
NJC Public Service Health Care Plan "at a glance"…
- 711,204 plan members covering over 1.5 million Canadians (including dependants) in 2019;
- 128,756 – The average number of electronic, paper and digital claims adjudicated daily;
- $1.44 billion - Total Plan cost of more than (or $2,057 per member);
- Total paid claims increased by 7.9% in 2019 to $1.37 billion.
- 4.9 days - Average turnaround time for paper claims and 5 seconds for electronic claims;
- In 2019, prescription drug reimbursement increased by 8.7% and represents 69.9% of total paid claims;
Reference: Federal Public Service Health Care Plan Administration Authority
Payments from NJC Directives and Plans
- $993 million in employee travel in 2018-2019;
- $38.4 million in allowances for employees in isolated locations in 2018-2019;
- $166 million in foreign service allowances for employees serving abroad in 2019-2020;
- Bilingual bonuses, relocation benefits and commuting allowances;
- $1.44 billion in PSHCP benefits to over 1.5 million participants in 2019;
- $128.1 million in dental benefits (NJC part) in 2019;
- $385.5 million in disability insurance support to affected employees in 2019.
The NJC Secretariat has had a busy year providing professional, administrative and logistical support to meetings of Council, the Executive Committee, and the various committees and boards of the NJC. The Secretariat organized 117 regular meetings and sub-committee meetings this past year and ensured follow-up on all meetings. The Secretariat also facilitated special union-management consultations, as well as briefings on various issues and policies.
Committee Meetings 2019-2020
|Committee||Number of meetings|
|Dental Care Plan Board of Management||7|
|Disability Insurance Plan Board of Management||8|
|Foreign Service Directives Committee||6|
|Government Travel Committee||4|
|Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee||9|
|Joint Employment Equity Committee||8|
|National Joint Council||4|
|Occupational Health and Safety Committee||20|
|Official Languages Committee||4|
|Public Service Health Care Plan Partners Committee||6|
|Service-Wide Occupational Health and Safety Committee||16|
|Union-Management Relations Committee||9|
|Work Force Adjustment Committee||2|
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:
- The criterion for reviewing grievances is the intent of the NJC directive. Final level hearings are fact-finding inquiries designed to discover whether an employee has been treated within the intent of the directive.
- At a final level NJC hearing, committee members from both management and bargaining agents, in collaboration, weigh whether or not the directive has been applied as was intended. While there is sometimes disagreement between the parties about intent, more often than not, both sides reach consensus about how an employee should have been treated.
During the 2019-2020 year, 19 new grievances were received. In the course of the year, 21 grievance files were disposed of and 24 remain outstanding.
Grievance Totals 2019-2020
|Carried over from 2018-2019||26|
|Disposed of in 2019-2020||21|
|Carry forward into 2020-2021||24|
Breakdown of Grievances
|Government Travel Committee||Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee||Relocation Committee||Foreign Service Directives Committee|
|Upheld in part||14.3%|
Foreign Service Directives Committee
The grievor accepted a 36 month posting to City A, Country G. The grievor’s Posting Confirmation Form (PCF) was issued on February 27, 2017 with an arrival date of July 2017. On March 22, 2017, the grievor received an amended PCF with an arrival date of August 2017.
On May 16, 2017, the grievor’s posting was cancelled due to a medical condition. Following the cancellation, the grievor requested their Incidental Relocation Expense Allowance as per FSD 15.29, as the grievor had already incurred expenses in preparation for relocation. The grievor was informed that in order for the Department to reimburse costs under FSD 15.29, the grievor must demonstrate that the expenses incurred were related to relocation and provide proof that expenses were incurred. The grievor’s Bargaining Agent initiated an informal discussion with the Department, explaining that upon receipt of the PCF, the grievor incurred various expenses but did not keep receipts as receipts are not required for incidental relocation expenses. In response, the Department indicated that although the Incidental Relocation Expense Allowance is not accountable, in this case, it had not yet been issued to the grievor before the cancellation of the posting.
The grievor is grieving the refusal by Department X to authorize the full Incidental Relocation Expense Allowance pursuant to FSD 15.29.
It is the Bargaining Agent representative’s position that under FSD 15.29, the grievor is under no obligation to provide receipts for the expenses incurred prior to the posting being cancelled. It was submitted that in normal circumstances, the grievor would have not been required to provide receipts and thus should receive the full Incidental Relocation Expense Allowance. The representative further argued that FSD 3 does not state that the directives can be applied in a modified format that suits the Employer when an employees’ posting is cancelled.
The Departmental representative does not deny that FSD 15.29 stipulates that receipts are not required; however, the authority to allow the Incidental Relocation Expense Allowance after a posting is cancelled lies under FSD 3.7. The intent of FSD 3.7 is to rectify what would otherwise be an obvious injustice to the employee as a result of the cancellation and to do this, the Department submits, requires supporting documentation. There is nothing in FSD 3.7 that precludes the Employer from requesting documentation in order to determine if an employee has suffered an injustice or to make sure that expenses are justified before providing reimbursement.
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 FSD 15.29. As a result, the grievance is denied.
The Executive Committee noted the Department correctly identified that it can authorize the application of FSD 15 – Relocation, including an allowance for IREA, to provide such additional assistance as is considered necessary to rectify what would otherwise be an obvious injustice to the employee as a result of the cancellation of the assignment. As such, the employee must provide the Deputy Head with sufficient information, such as receipts, a declaration or other, for the Deputy Head to establish the amount of the allowance which would rectify any obvious injustice to the employee.
Government Travel Committee
The grievor was hired in November 2011. In mid-January 2012, the grievor received a verbal offer of employment to work at Location A in City F, Province X. The grievor began work on January 30, 2012, but due to operational issues at Location A, the grievor never commenced working at that location, but rather, was immediately assigned to Location B, also in City F. Given this, the grievor effectively began the assignment on the start date at Location A. The distance between the two locations was 1.7 km. The assignment was initially scheduled to end on June 30, 2012; however, it was subsequently extended until December 31, 2012.
The grievor grieved that their permanent place of work was Location A and they were temporarily assigned to Location B starting January 30, 2012, claiming the Employer did not pay the grievor the amounts provided under the Travel Directive resulting from the temporary assignment.
The Bargaining Agent representative argued that during the assignment, the Employer did not provide the grievor with updates with respect to when they would be returning to the designated work location (Location A) and that the grievor was informed during the course of the assignment that even the temporary work location would eventually close.
The Bargaining Agent further noted that the grievor travelled, on average, approximately 120 kilometres round trip from home to the temporary work location every day. Had the grievor been able to seek confirmation that the permanent position would be at the designated work location (Location A), then the grievor could have moved closer to work to avoid the lengthy commute. However, given that the grievor was temporarily assigned to Location B, the grievor was reluctant to permanently relocate closer to Location B.
The Bargaining Agent representative argued the grievor was entitled to be reimbursed in accordance with the Directive given that the grievor was not notified, in writing, thirty calendar days in advance of the change in workplace. The grievor’s letter of offer clearly stated that the grievor’s permanent workplace is Location A and the assignment agreement is also clear in that Location B is a temporary workplace. As such, the Bargaining Agent representative contends that the grievor is entitled to the kilometric rate for the distance between the home and the temporary workplace, or between the permanent workplace and the temporary workplace, whichever is less.
The Departmental representative contended that the grievor ought not to be entitled to the provisions of 1.9.2 and 1.9.3 of the Directive as the grievor was informed well in advance of the location of the assignment. The September 22, 2011 minutes from a Labour-Management meeting clearly state that recruits will be deployed temporarily to Location B and the Departmental representative noted that this plan was conveyed to both the recruits and to those responsible for training them. The Departmental representative highlighted the fact that the Directive is not specific with respect to what form the advance notification should take, other than the fact that it must be in writing.
The Executive Committee considered and agreed with the report of the Government Travel Committee which concluded that the grievor was not treated within the intent of the Travel Directive. The grievor ought to have been notified, in writing, 30 calendar days in advance of the change in workplace, in accordance with subsection 1.9.2 of the Directive. Consequently, the grievance was upheld.
The grievor worked in City A, Province M. On July 26, 2017, the grievor requested and accepted a transfer to City B, Province N, effective July 31, 2017. The grievor was offered employee-requested relocation entitlements, moved to City B unaccompanied and rented accommodation at the new place of duty. The grievor’s family remained in Province M, with the intention of relocating in the summer of 2018 after their son’s high school graduation. The grievor’s relocation file was considered completed/closed on September 27, 2017 following receipt of employee- requested entitlements.
In November 2017, the Department was considering offering the grievor a position in City C, Province N, with full relocation entitlements. In preparing the offer, enquiries were made to see whether the grievor’s family in Province M could be relocated in the summer. On November 28, 2017, TBS provided their interpretation which indicated that given the grievor completed the relocation to City B as of September 2017, the substantive position and principal residence were now considered to be in City B.
After being made aware of the possibility that Relocation would only be authorized from City B to City C, the grievor received and accepted the letter of offer for the position in City C on December 4, 2017. The Department reiterated that the relocation was considered from City B to City C.
The grievor has since transferred to a position in City D, Province M, on February 1, 2019. As such, the grievor is now living in their residence in City E with the grievor’s family and commuting each working day to City D.
The employee is grieving that the Employer has unfairly and unreasonably administered the NJC Relocation Directive in that allowances specified in the Directive are not being made available to the grievor, including allowances under Part VIII of the Directive for the relocation from the primary residence to the new workplace located in the City C area.
The Bargaining Agent representative submitted that based on the plain and ordinary meaning and reading of the Directive, the grievor’s City E home ought to be deemed to be the principal residence given numerous reasons, including that: the grievor maintained the residence in the City E home while working in City C; the grievor’s personal belongings were and still are located in the City E home; the grievor’s family remained and still lives in the City E home; section 188.8.131.52 of the Directive must be read in conjunction with the definition of principal residence; and temporary accommodation is specifically excluded from the definition of principal residence.
The Employer representative noted that the grievor made a personal choice to accept the transfer to City B and then the appointment to the position in City C, knowing the Employer had determined that the grievor would not be entitled to relocation from City D. The Employer representative noted that in accordance with the NJC Relocation Directive, “relocation” is defined as “the authorized move of an employee from one place of duty to another”.
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 Directive. Given that they had requested a relocation to City B, Province N and received entitlements in accordance with this relocation, City B, Province N effectively became the grievor’s new place of duty and principal residence for the purposes of the Directive. As such, the grievance is denied.
Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee
At the time of the grievance, the grievor was working in City A, Province M. On November 20, 2015, the grievor’s attending dental practitioner completed an application for non- elective medical/dental treatment benefits regarding orthodontic treatment for the grievor’s child. In this application, the attending dental practitioner stipulated that the treatment was not available at the employee’s headquarters, not elective and required without delay. According to the attending dental practitioner, the treatment was available in City B (via ferry) and in City C (via flight). Shortly thereafter, the attending dental practitioner completed a new application for non- elective medical/dental treatment benefits in which they recommended that the treatment should take place in City C as the grievor has family residing there and orthodontists in City C have increased availability relative to City B.
In February 2016, the grievor travelled to City C with their child for the orthodontic treatment. Since February 2016, the grievor has received partial compensation for their trips. On June 3, 2016, the griever submitted a grievance as they were not fully compensated for their trips to City C.
The Bargaining Agent representative provided a written submission for consideration, noting subsection 3.1.2 of the Directive. The Bargaining Agent representative wrote that the attending dental practitioner, in this case, made an assessment that the grievor’s child required dental treatment and that it was not elective, not available at the headquarters, and was required without delay. The Bargaining Agent representative further wrote that the determination of the nearest location in Canada where adequate dental treatment is available is for the attending dental practitioner to identify and not the Department.
The Bargaining Agent representative wrote that the word “adequate” appears to be the area of dispute. Although the attending dental practitioner was aware that orthodontic services were available in City B, due to the limitations that were routinely experienced accessing the orthodontic services (i.e. availability of the orthodontist in City B versus patient’s frequency of appointments, ease of travel to City B, etc.), the attending practitioner deemed City B to not be the best or adequate location for the required treatment.
The Departmental representative argued that the note provided by the medical professional did not indicate a valid reason for treatment in City C. The note indicated that City C is a preferred location due to family members residing at the location.
The Departmental representative added that given that the patient was approved to travel with an escort, the fact that other family members reside in City C should not be considered with respect to the location of the medical treatment. Following questions of clarification from the Committee, the Departmental representative confirmed that at no point did the Employer approve travel to City C and that the patient never travelled to City C unsupervised.
The Departmental representative also noted that the Bargaining Agent representative was unable to provide any evidence supporting the claim that the treating practitioner located in City B was not available on a regular basis and stated that the Department had indicated on multiple occasions that they would be willing to be flexible with the employee’s schedule.
Finally, it was indicated by the Departmental representative that when the Department reached out to the treating dental practitioner, it was confirmed that the closest location for the treatment needs was indeed City B.
The Executive Committee reviewed the report of the Committee and noted that the Committee could not come to an agreement on whether the grievor was treated within the intent of the Directive. The Executive Committee considered the circumstances and concluded the grievor had been treated within the intent of the Directive. As such, the grievance is denied.
Dental and Disability Appeals
The Disability Insurance 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 Insurance Plan Board of Management hear appeals on cases relating to the denial of benefits by the plan administrators.
During 2019-2020, 12 disability appeals and 33 dental appeals were decided by the two boards of management, compared to 20 and 32 in 2018-2019.
Further details with regard to the Boards' activities and plan experience are contained in the Boards of Management's annual reports which are tabled separately.
Breakdown of Dental and Disability Appeals
|Upheld in part||2||2|
The Disability Insurance Board of Management noted that mental illnesses remain the most frequent cause of new disability claims in 2019. 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 overpayments and dental procedures such as crowns, implants, orthodontia, dental exams, and fillings. The majority of the appeals considered by the Board in 2019-2020 addressed Plan limitations and late claims. In addition to these, the Board of
Management granted 3 requests for coverage of a dependant.
Training Sessions in 2019-2020
During 2019, the NJC traveled to the following locations to conduct training sessions: Vancouver, B.C.; Victoria, B.C.; Edmonton, AB; Winnipeg MB; Toronto, ON; and Montreal, QC.
The NJC is always happy to train LR practitioners, from both departments and unions, to provide education on the NJC process and what to expect when presenting a grievance. Check out upcoming training sessions on our website!
2020-2021 Yearly Planning Agenda
|Priority||Objective||Expected Results||Next Steps||Timeframe|
|OHS Directive, Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees Cyclical Review||To complete the cyclical review of the OHS Directive, the Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees, within the 2020-2021 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 OHS Directive, Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees at the outset of the 2021-2022 fiscal year.||
• OHS Committee to complete negotiations and draft supporting documents for publication
Q1 through Q3 – OHS Committee to continue to advance co-development process
|Isolated Posts and
Directive Cyclical Review
|To begin the IPGH cyclical review within the 2020-2021 fiscal year.||That the Committee will have completed some of the negotiations within the 2020-2021 fiscal year.||
• NJC Secretariat to issue input call letter
Late Q4 2019-20 - NJC Secretariat to issue input call letter (completed)
Note: Deadline to submit input is pending given the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be reviewed quarterly
|Develop a new Shelter
Cost Differential (SCD)
|The IPGHC is to finalize the development of a new SCD methodology to be applied to the qualifying locations.||That a new methodology for the calculation of the SCD be formalized.||As per the request from the Executive Committee, the IPGHC to resume discussions that had been underway prior to COVID-19||
Q1 and Q2 - IPGHC to codevelop a new methodology to replace the existing SCD
Q2 – IPGHC to present its final report to the Executive Committee by September 30, 2020
|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.||
• Coordinate/codevelop networking and/or learning events with partners
Q1 and Q2 – Coordinate/codevelop
Q3 through Q4 – Develop content for 2021 Seminar
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.
Facilitate member and stakeholder consultation/codevelopment
Council members will deem the meetings to hold value in both content and networking. Committee Chairpersons will continue to take a more active role in reporting on successes, challenges and critical issues on behalf of their Committee.
• General Secretary will continue to meet with all Committee Chairpersons on a regular basis
Q1 through Q4 – Ongoing communication with the PSC Outreach team and LR/HR Council
Q1 through Q4 - General Secretary to meet with all Committee Chairpersons
Q1 through Q4 – Information sharing
Information Sharing/ Consultations/Co-DevelopmentWorking Committee Sub-committees
|To facilitate the work of NJC working committees when and as called upon for information sharing, consultation and co- development purposes.||
Sub-committees, once struck, will meet to deal with issues as tasked by their respective working committees. Sub- committees will report their progress and findings to the working committee(s).
These could include the development of training or reference tools, recommended courses of action and further areas of consultation.
|• Continue to meet with stakeholders and subject matter experts to inform the work of the subcommittees
• Continue to report to working committee(s) on results
• Provide informed recommendations to working committee(s)
Q1 through Q4 – Ongoing information sharing, consultation and co-development with stakeholders
Q1 through Q4 – Ongoing reporting to working committee(s)
Communications OutreachSpeaking 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.
• Contact Ontario and Prairie Region Federal Councils to solicit for interest
Q1 – Solicit regional Federal Councils for interest
Q3 – Participate in NCR Innovation Fair (virtual)
Late Q3 or early Q4 – Participate in Northern Innovation Fair
Q1 through Q4 - As requested
Communications OutreachOnline & Social Media Presence
|Continue to promote awareness of the NJC and its activities by increasing its online and social media presence.||
Leverage website to increase information sharing. Ensure website is maintained and supported over the course of the year.Expand 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 SecretaryQ1 through Q4 - Promote NJC activities
Electronic File Sharing
|To facilitate the receipt, storage and distribution of grievances and appeals and their associated information. Also, to reduce the NJC’s overall carbon footprint.||Streamline document distribution and signature collection process in order to increase efficiency and reduce waste.||• Consult with NJC staff on possible efficiencies
• Research file sharing options
• Consult with IT
• Communicate changes to Committee members and clients
• Provide support to members and clients during transition period
Q1 through Q2 - Research options in consultation with NJC staff and ITQ1 through Q3 – Implement changes, conduct testing and train NJC Secretariat staff
TrainingLabour 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
Q1 – Assess NJC Secretariat resources and community demand
Q2 – Schedule session in NCR
Q3 – Hold session in NCR
Q4 – Review feedback and adjust training materials as needed
Q1 through Q4 - Assess the resources and demand for training and report to Executive Committee and Council
TrainingWorking 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 turnover 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
Q1 through Q2– Assess Committee member turnover
Q3 – Hold Joint Training session (with virtual option)
Q4 – Provide additional training based on demand
TrainingWorking Committee Members – Cyclical Review
Deliver a 1.5 hour training session to Committee members who will be entering into cyclical review in the 2020-2021 fiscal year to better prepare them.Committee members will be provided with information concerning the procedural steps of 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.||• Schedule dates for the training||Q3 – Provide training to those Committees entering into cyclical review in Q3 (IPGH Committee)|
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 most recent session
Q1 through Q3 – Modify training based on feedback from survey; adapt for virtual delivery
Q3 - Offer training module to DLOs (with potential for virtual participation)
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the information contained in this document may be subject to further changes or adjustments throughout the fiscal year.