Year in Review

April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021

Dear Council Members,

It is with pleasure that I submit to you the 2020-2021 Annual Report, my fourth as General Secretary. The report serves to provide an overview of the National Joint Council's (NJC) work, activities, and accomplishments during the past year, from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

The report also includes the Yearly Planning Agenda for 2021-2022 developed by the Executive Committee and ratified by Council (see appendix). Once again this year, the agenda, which was conditioned by the realities of the ongoing pandemic, summarizes the leading priorities of Council for the year ahead and the work that is to be carried out by the various NJC Working Committees and Boards. As it has since its inception in 1944, the NJC remains a unique organization that prioritizes the interests of its stakeholders. Its governance provides that all matters falling under its auspices are jointly considered and decided by the parties. While the challenges of the past year have unremittingly tested its resilience, it is fair to say that the institution rose to the occasion and continued to effectively deliver on its mandate. As a compliment to traditional collective bargaining, through its 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 240,000 employees in the federal public service of Canada. Members of Council, from both sides, provide representatives for all Committees and Boards of Management. These representatives are committed to the NJC’s collaborative model of resolving grievances and/or appeals and consulting on a variety of other issues with service-wide application.

The NJC’s 76th year of operation will undoubtably be viewed as one of its stranger periods, whereby regular processes and procedures gave way to public health measures to ensure the wellbeing of the public service and of its workforce. The NJC revamped and retooled its service delivery approach to ensure that key allowances continued to be adjusted and updated and to allow for ongoing access to the grievance and appeal process. Moreover, the NJC continued to provide the safe space for ongoing discussions on the evolving health crisis between members - employers and unions, in order to quickly and efficiently resolve issues affecting public service employees across Canada.

The NJC Secretariat staff was not immune to the difficulties engendered by the global pandemic. Despite these, their perseverance and dedication to the process allowed for the important work to continue and they are to be commended for the efforts.

I would like to personally thank all the members for their hard work and commitment and for their lasting contribution to the NJC. 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.

Consultations

As may be well understood, the success of consultation is dependent on various factors, including the topic of any given consultation; however, continuous, open and rich communication remains key. Meaningful consultations require transparent discussions and should involve early engagement whenever possible. Although the NJC’s ability to facilitate consultations was somewhat diminished since many policy centers were otherwise occupied by issues related to the pandemic, the parties did continue to make good use of the NJC auspices to conduct consultations on a number of subjects, chief among these being COVD-19 and its impact on people and government operations. Aside from the important dialogue related to the pandemic, some other topics of consultation during the reporting period included: the Public Service Commission’s Audit of Employment Equity Representation in Recruitment and Key Staffing Trends; Proactive Pay Equity in the Public Service; Update on Recommendations of the Joint Union-Management Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion; Laboratories Canada and Staffing Process Experiences.

Training & Outreach

The NJC Secretariat staff revamped the learning curriculum to facilitate its delivery “virtually”. The team successfully trained new committee members as well as labour relations practitioners from both the union and employer sides. More than 200 individuals were able to benefit from this training.

Other Accomplishments

The cyclical review of the Occupational Health and Safety Directive, the Uniforms Directive and the First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees were completed. As well, the revised Commuting Assistance and Relocation Directives were approved and promulgated.

As I move into my fourth year as General Secretary, we continue to navigate the changes that have been imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter what comes next, I am confident that we will collectively rise to the occasion.

Thank you again to all for your ongoing support and collaboration.

 

Sean Ross
General Secretary

Mandate of the National Joint Council

Created in 1944, the National Joint Council (NJC) now includes nineteen (19) public service Bargaining Agents, the Treasury Board Secretariat and four (4) “Separate Employers” as members. The activities of Council directly affect the working lives of well over 240,000 represented employees in 88 departments and agencies in every region of Canada. The NJC contributes to effective labour relations and human resources management on many fronts, including:

The National Joint Council of the Public Service of Canada 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 work together to resolve problems and establish terms of employment that apply across the public service. NJC subjects include government travel, relocation, commuting assistance, isolated posts and government housing, foreign service, work force adjustment, safety and health, the bilingual bonus and public service health plans.

Governance of the National Joint Council

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 (3) representatives from each of the Employer and Bargaining Agent Sides respectively, supported by a Side Secretary for each side. 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.

Organizational Structure

Organizational Structure of the NJC

Members

Bargaining Agents

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
National Police Federation
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
Union of Canadian Correctional Officers – CSN

Employers

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

Members of the Executive Committee 

 

Employer Side

Chairperson Sandra Hassan (until March 2021)
Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada
Vice-Chairperson Dan Danagher
Global Affairs Canada
Representative Zaina Sovani (until March 2021)
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 
Secretary

Aline Taillefer-McLaren
Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada

 

Bargaining Agent Side

Co-Chairpersons

Dany Richard (August 2020-Present)
Association of Canadian Financial Officers

Jean-Marc Noël (until August 2020)
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

  

NJC Secretariat

General Secretary Sean Ross
National Joint Council
Secretary Elizabeth Shum
National Joint Council

Chairpersons

Committees

Foreign Service
Directives Committee

Denis Trottier
Transport Canada

Government Travel Committee

Jennifer Cruickshank (July 2020-Present)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Janelle Wright (until July 2020)
Finance Canada

Isolated Posts and Government
Housing Committee
Tracey Sametz
Transport Canada
Joint Employment
Equity Committee

Eddy Bourque (Co-Chair)
Canada Employment and Immigration Union

Debbie Johnston Winker (Co-Chair since February 2021)
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Erika Henley (Co-Chair until November 2020)
Transport Canada

Occupational Health and
Safety Committee

Denis St-Jean
Public Service Alliance of Canada

Official Languages

Julie Desroches
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Relocation Committee

Eric Saint-Onge
Environment and Climate Change Canada

Service-Wide Committee on
Occupational H
ealth and Safety

Renée de Bellefeuille (Co-Chair)
Treasury Board Secretariat

Fabian Murphy (Co-Chair)
Public Service Alliance of Canada

Union-Management
Relations Committee
Cathie Fraser
Research Council Employees' Association
Workforce Adjustment Committee

Nancy Taillon
Library and Archives Canada

 

Boards

Dental Care Plan Board
of Management 
(NJC Part)
Dr. Peter Cooney
Disability Insurance Plan
Board of Management

Barry Fennessy

Working Committees

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, this past year brought forth many challenges. Consequently, the various working Committees and Boards that form part of the NJC were forced to adopt modified processes and procedures. During this time, the National Joint Council was fortunate to continually benefit from the hard work and dedication of its members. Each of the Working Committees and Boards are comprised of Bargaining Agent and Employer representatives that bring with them a variety of knowledge and expertise. In the following pages, you will find a summary of some activities and achievements that each Committee or Board accomplished during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Meetings

Committee Number of meetings
Dental Care Plan Board of Management  5
Disability Insurance Plan Board of Management  5
Executive Committee  6
Foreign Service Directives Committee  5
Government Travel Committee  6
Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee  4
Joint Employment Equity Committee  9
National Joint Council  4
Occupational Health and Safety Committee 22
Official Languages Committee  5
PSHCP Partners Committee  4
PSHCP Technical Committee  2
Relocation Committee  5
Service-Wide Occupational Health and Safety Committee 24
Union-Management Relations Committee  9
Work Force Adjustment Committee  2

 

Notwithstanding the difficult times, the NJC Secretariat had another busy year providing professional, administrative, and logistical support to organize meetings for Council, the Executive Committee, and the various Working Committees and Boards of Management. In total, the Secretariat organized 117 meetings through the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, these meetings were conducted virtually, via video or telephone. The NJC also played an important role in facilitating multiple meetings between the parties on emerging issues related to the global pandemic.

NJC Grievances

There were 24 grievance files carried over from the previous fiscal-year. A total of 18 new grievance files were received during the reporting period, and 21 grievances were disposed of. The remaining 21 grievances were carried over into the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The NJC grievance process is a successful example of alternative dispute resolution, which has now been in place for several decades. At the final level, the two distinctive and innovative features of the NJC grievance process are INTENT and COLLABORATION.

Grievances are reviewed on the basis of the intent of the various NJC directives. Final level hearings are fact-finding inquiries designed to discover whether an employee has been treated within the intent of the directive. This contrasts with formal adjudication under the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act where the main focus is the meaning of the specific words in a collective agreement.

Collaboration is another key part of the NJC grievance process. At the final level, committee members from both the Employer Side and Bargaining Agent Side work in collaboration to weight the facts and determine whether the directive has been applied as intended. Most often, both sides are able to come to a consensus. This process is very different from conventional final level hearings where only the Employer Side hears and decides the issue.

Grievance Totals 2020-2021

New 2020-2021 
Travel 5
FSD 5
WFA 1
IPGH 2
RELO 3
OHS 2
Disposed of in 2020-2021 
Travel 7
FSD 4
WFA 0
IPGH 5
RELO 5
OHS 0
Carried over from 2019-2020 
Travel 9
FSD 5
WFA 0
IPGH 4
RELO 6
OHS 0
Carried forward into 2021-2022 
Travel 7
FSD 6
WFA 1
IPGH 1
RELO 4
OSH 2

 

Foreign Service Directives Committee

Chairperson: Denis Trottier

The Foreign Service Directives are designed to provide a system of allowances, benefits, and conditions of employment that, in combination with salary, will enable departments and agencies to recruit, retain and deploy qualified employees in support of government programs outside Canada. The 37 Foreign Service Directives currently in place cover many situations attributable to the provision of Foreign Services, such as Accountable Advances (FSD 4), Relocation (FSD 15), Shelter (FSD 25), Post Living Allowances (FSD 55) and Emergency Evacuation Loss (FSD 64).

Activities

The Foreign Service Directives (FSD) Committee adapted well to the move to virtual meetings. From the outset of the pandemic, the Committee monitored closely the on-going COVID-19 situation, which involved receiving continual updates of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the FSDs and specifically the various rates and allowances contained therein. The Committee worked closely to find solutions to emerging issues in support of employees working abroad. The Committee met a total of times throughout the year and also conducted several grievance hearings related the various FSD during this time.

Government Travel Committee

Chairperson: Jennifer Cruickshank (current)
Janelle Wright (former)

The principles found within the Travel Directive were developed jointly by the Bargaining Agent representatives and the Employer representatives on the National Joint Council.

These principles are the cornerstone for the management of government travel and shall guide all employees and managers in achieving fair, reasonable and modern travel practices across the public service. The Travel Directive applies to public service employees and other persons travelling on government business, including training.

Activities

Given its heavy case load, the Committee continued to hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee all the while adapting to the challenges posed by the pandemic. The Committee also worked to clarify the differences between how the Travel Directive may apply in the distinctive situations of remote work and telework. In this regard, the Committee developed a new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to supplement the existing FAQ from 2017.

Relocation Committee

Chairperson: Eric St-Onge

The Relocation Committee reviews the Relocation Directive and hears final level grievances on this authority, when required by the Executive Committee. The purpose of the NJC Relocation Directive is to ensure fair treatment of employees authorized by the Employer to relocate to a new principal residence at a new regular workplace consistent with the principles listed in the Directive. The aim is to relocate an employee in the most efficient fashion, at the most reasonable cost to the public while having a minimal detrimental effect on the employee and his/her family and on departmental operations. Trust, flexibility, respect, valuing people and transparency are some of the main principles that are cornerstones of the NJC Relocation Directive.

Activities

Throughout the 2021-2021 fiscal year, the Relocation Committee continued to manage its caseload, hear grievances and provide recommendations to the Executive Committee. 5 grievances were addressed during this time and the newly revised Directive was also promulgated. The Committee held joint training sessions to assist Labour Relations Advisors and Departmental Coordinators to familiarize themselves with the changes contained in the new Directive which came into effect on January 1, 2021.

Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee

Chairperson: Tracey Sametz

The purpose of the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive is to facilitate the recruitment and retention of staff delivering government programs in isolated locations. Its provisions are designed to assist in offsetting some of the higher costs and to recognize the inherent disadvantages associated with living and working in isolated posts. It also describes how employees will be treated when renting crown-owned accommodations.

Activities

In addition to the careful consideration and providing recommendations to the Executive Committee on grievances, the Committee continued to approve periodic updates to the various allowances contained in the Directive. The Committee also continued to work on the development of a revised Shelter Cost Differential (SCD) methodology. The official “input call” which signals the launch of the cyclical review was issued just before the onset of the pandemic. The usual period within which to supply input was later extended in order for the sides to adequately collect information from all interested parties, taking into account the complexities of doing so during the pandemic.

Official Languages Committee

Chairperson: Julie Desroches

The Official Languages Committee reviews the Bilingualism Bonus Directive and hears final level grievances on the Directive, when required by the Executive Committee. The Committee also reviews official languages policies in the Public Service and discusses issues arising from these policies. The purpose of the Bilingual Bonus Directive is to set forth the conditions under which employees are eligible for the bilingualism bonus.

Activities

This past year, the Official Languages (OL) Committee received no grievances related to the Bilingual Bonus Directive. The Committee, however, continued to position itself as a relevant consultative body for OL issues within the Public Service having met times and received presentations regarding the Modernization of the Official Languages Act (OLA), the impact of emergency situations on official languages, and updates to non-imperative staffing and second language evaluations and recommendations from the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) regarding the review of OLA.

Occupational Health and Safety Committee

Chairperson: Denis St-Jean

The NJC Occupational Health and Safety Directive contains enhancements to the Canada Labour Code Part II ("the Code"). This Directive also aims to complement the OHS programs in force in the federal public service. Like the legislation, it should be considered a minimum standard that a given employer's OHS program may exceed.

Activities

While Health and Safety was at the forefront more than ever this past year, the Occupational Health and Safety Committee continued diligently to meet several times a month to complete their cyclical review activities for the Occupational Health and Safety Directive, Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees. To support their implementation, the Committee has also created a summary document of the changes made to each directive, as well as a Questions & Answers document to aid in the administration and interpretation of the directives.

Service-Wide Committee on Occupational Health and Safety

Co-Chairs: Renée de Bellefeuille & Fabian Murphy

The role of the Service-Wide Committee on Occupational Health and Safety (SWOHS) is to participate in the development and review of all Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat policies, programs and issues relating to occupational health and safety. The SWOHS Committee provides advice and leadership to the departmental or agency policy committees.

Activities

The Committee continued to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and addressed various related issues such as personal protective equipment (PPE), the reporting of hazardous occurrences, the expectations of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Committees and first aid certification. The Committee also developed a communiqué to provide guidance on COVID-19 to departments and agencies. Additionally, the Committee discussed the importance of departments complying with Part XIX of the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and the need for a focus on mental health in light of the pandemic. Presentations and consultations were conducted on various issues such as, Bill C-65 including key amendments to the Canada Labour Code, to the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, and the new Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations.

Joint Employment Equity Committee

Co-Chairs: Eddy Bourque & Debbie Johnston Winker
Erika Henley (former)

The Joint Employment Equity Committee (JEEC) provides a national forum that includes the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS), the Public Service Commission (PSC), Bargaining Agents and departmental representatives. The JEEC acts as the NJC's vehicle for Employment Equity and diversity analysis and provides the NJC with Employment Equity and diversity related input, as well as, advice and recommendations related to emerging policies and practices in the federal public service.

Activities

JEEC was consulted on a number of Public Service-wide initiatives including: the Canada School of Public Service’s disability inclusion multimedia learning product; the PSC’s Public Service Employment Regulations review; the TBS’s updated Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention Directive and Template; the updated Guarding Minds at Work tool; the Public Service Employee Survey 2020 questions; the PSC’s Affirmation of Aboriginal Affiliation Form; and the TBS Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer’s modernization of the employee self-identification form. In addition, a number of departments provided updates on initiatives for information purposes; including, the TBS Policy Suite Reset initiative, and the Federal Black Employee Caucus.

Workforce Adjustment Committee

Chairperson: Nancy Taillon

The Work Force Adjustment (WFA) Committee reviews and recommends changes to the WFA Directive. It also hears grievances on the subject which may be referred by the NJC Executive Committee.

Activities

The Committee reviewed proposed changes to Appendix D of the Directive to correct certain discrepancies in the document. Upon approval of the Executive Committee, the irregularities found within Appendix D were corrected and these were communicated within the community. The Committee also continued to receive regular updates from the Public Service Commission regarding 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 and the co-development of materials to help explain and support key aspects of the WFA Directive. There were no WFA grievances decided upon in 2020-2021.

Union-Management Relations Committee

Chairperson: Cathie Fraser

The Union-Management Relations Committee reviews the organization of the NJC, recommends NJC training activities and provides planning and organization for union-management seminars.

Activities

Due to the ongoing uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NJC Seminar was postponed. The Committee proposed that the 2021 Seminar be replaced with a one-time series of 3 webinars to take place in June, September and December 2021. Further to the Executive Committee’s acceptance of the proposal, the Committee is working diligently to identify topics for each of the webinars as well as moderators, keynote speakers and panelists.

Public Service Health Care Plan "at a glance"

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. 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 4 times. The Committee continued its preparatory work for the PSHCP renewal discussions. The Committee also continued its consultation 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 2 times. The Committee continued to address concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as issues of concern identified by the PSHCP Partners Committee.

Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part)

Chairperson: Peter Cooney

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, Canada Life, monitoring the claims settlement performance of the Administrator, and recommending changes to the Plan.

Activities

During 2020-2021, the Dental Care Plan Board of Management (NJC Part) considered numerous appeals related to adding dependents, overpayments, and dental procedures such as crowns, implants, orthodontia, dental exams, and fillings. Of the 44 appeals that were reviewed, 14 were upheld, 5 were upheld in part, 20 were denied and 5 were either withdrawn or carried over into 2021-2022.

The Board reviewed few appeals related to services denied for benefits due to COVID-19 delays. Most of the appeals considered by the Board addressed Plan limitations and late claims. The Board also held discussions with the plan administrator in several areas and resumed discussions regarding outstanding changes to the Plan. Further details regarding the Board’s activities and plan experience are contained in the Dental Board’s annual report, which is tabled separately.

Disability Insurance Plan Board of Management

Chairperson: Barry Fennessy

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, and the administrative fees and charges.

Activities

The Board continued to examine and provide recommendations to Sun Life regarding appeals, and closely monitored the Plan’s financial position. Of the 12 appeals that were reviewed, 1 was upheld, 10 were denied and 1 was carried over into 2021-2022. The Board received a presentation from Sun Life, which reported that the rate increase and lump-sum injection made in the second quarter had re-established the Plan’s surplus back to the target level and restored the financial health of the Plan. It was also reported that the retroactive salary adjustment project was ongoing as new collective agreements were ratified. It was noted, however, that the Plan financial experience in 2021 would be unpredictable, as claims volume had been atypical and much lower than normal and expected. A Plan Claimant Survey was conducted, resulting in an action plan, with three major areas of focus. Further details regarding the Board’s activities and plan experience are contained in the Disability Insurance Board’s annual report, which is tabled separately.

Training

During 2020-2021, the NJC Secretariat held a total of training sessions; 3 sessions were for Labour Relation practitioners, and 1 session was for new NJC members, referred to as the Joint Training Session. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the training format switched to virtual and as such, no travel was necessary.

Training for new NJC Members: Joint Training Session

This training sessions provided new members with an overview of the NJC principles, mandate, impact, and structure. Additionally, the training addressed the NJC’s key operations, such as the cyclical review process, the grievance process, and requests for interpretation. Lastly, the training detailed the roles and responsibilities of members.

Training for Labour Relations Practitioners: Demystifying the NJC Grievance Process

These training sessions provided attendees with a general overview of the NJC governance structure and the impact the NJC directives have on the Public Service. Additionally, they sought to clarify the NJC grievance process by providing a detailed explanation of all the steps within the NJC grievance procedure, to assist the labour relations community in preparing for NJC grievance hearings.

Grievance Summaries

The following section provides a snapshot of some of the grievances that were dealt with by the various NJC Working Committees during 2020-2021.

To access more grievance summaries, please visit the NJC website at: https://www.njc-cnm.gc.ca/s2/en

Foreign Service Directives Committee

25.4.185: FSD 39 – Health Care Expenses

The grievor is employed at Department Z and was initially posted to City A, Country G in September 2014. On October 29, 2018, the grievor sought clarification from the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) assistance services with respect to the coverage for in vitro fertilization (IVF) for the grievor and the their same-sex spouse. It was indicated that, under the PSHCP, in vitro fertilization benefits are covered for PSHCP members who suffer from bilateral tubal blockage. On March 13, 2019, the grievor sought clarification from the Department as to whether any of the FSD would cover the IVF expenses that are covered by the provincial health insurance plan. According to the grievor, the provincial plan covers one treatment cycle per patient including the transfer of all viable embryos. The grievor also mentioned having started the consultation process in Province D and that they intended to proceed in Province D. The Department indicated that there is no provision in the FSD that would cover reimbursement of such expenses for the grievor’s situation. As such, the grievor filed a grievance on April 9, 2019.

The employee is grieving the refusal by the Employer to reimburse expenses related to in vitro fertilization and is stating that the refusal constitutes a violation of the principle of comparability inherent to the Foreign Service Directives. Specifically, the grievor has been improperly denied the same level of health care as a person that is a resident of Province D.

The Bargaining Agent (BA) representative indicated that Province D provides for IVF coverage for anyone under 43 years of age who resides in Province D and holds a valid provincial health insurance plan card. The BA representative explained that the purpose of FSD 39 is to provide financial assistance to employees who incurred health care expenses outside of Canada, in excess of those permissible under the PSHCP. It was therefore submitted that by failing to provide said financial assistance, the Department has failed to treat the grievor within the intent of the Directive. Additionally, the principle of comparability applies as the grievor and the grievor’s spouse could have benefited from IVF treatment, despite their lack of fallopian tubes, had they remained in Canada. As such, the BA representative recommended that the grievance be upheld.

The Departmental representative explained that coverage for IVF under the PSHCP is only provided for patients suffering from a bilateral tubal blockage. It was therefore submitted that the expense in question must first be eligible for coverage under the PSHCP before FSD 39.1.1 may be applied. Consequently, as the grievor is not eligible under the PSHCP, FSD 39.1.1 does not apply. The Departmental representative also indicated that as of December 21, 2015, IVF is no longer covered under the provincial plan. IVF, among other treatments, is now funded as an uninsured service through Transfer Payment Agreements with specified clinics. The Departmental representative concluded by stating that the grievance is beyond the scope of the FSD. The PSHCP appeal procedure is the appropriate recourse mechanism as there is no mechanism for reimbursement under the FSD. Furthermore, it is the PSHCP criteria that has rendered the option for reimbursement impossible.

The Executive Committee considered the report of the Foreign Service Directives Committee which concluded that the grievor had been treated within the intent of the FSD. It was acknowledged that the Bargaining Agent raised Canadian Human Rights issues; however, these are beyond the scope of the Executive Committee’s mandate and there is a separate process in place for Canadian Human Rights complaints. As such, the grievance was denied.

Government Travel Committee

21.4.1125: Meal Allowance

The grievor supervised a seal hunt at Location A on January 27, 2019. Travel for the work activity was scheduled under a Blanket Travel Authority. The grievor’s scheduled shift was from 7:00-15:00 where the grievor and a colleague were flown to Location A. Effective 15:00, the grievor was recognized to be working overtime and at approximately 16:00, they arrived back to the mainland where the grievor picked up a meal at a drive-thru prior to returning the departmental vehicle to the Detachment. The grievor completed work for the day by 16:30. The grievor submitted a claim for 1.5 hours of overtime and meal allowances.

While overtime and a lunch allowance were reimbursed, the claim for dinner was not and shortly thereafter, a grievance was submitted. The employee grieved the Employer’s failure to provide compensation for a dinner meal allowance during an extended period of overtime on January 27, 2019, while on travel status in accordance with subsection 3.2.9 of the Travel Directive.

The Bargaining Agent (BA) representative claimed that the decision to deny the reimbursement for dinner was made without consideration of the circumstances. The conditions of the workday in question were far from typical; the work location was remote and isolated, with no way to purchase food, they were flown there by helicopter. The grievor and their colleague needed to be on constant alert during the seal hunt, analyzing their surroundings and looking out for each other. The location was extremely cold, and the representative noted that this environmental stress added to the overall tension the grievor experienced. Although they had brought food, there was no opportunity to have a lunch break. Therefore, when the grievor returned to the mainland, tired and hungry, they immediately stopped for something to eat.

The BA representative noted that these factors should have been given fulsome consideration by the Employer before the decision was made to deny the meal and as they were not, the Employer did not demonstrate flexibility or recognition of the difficult nature of the work performed by the grievor on the day in question.

The Employer representative argued that as a shift worker, based on the timing of the scheduled shift and despite the additional overtime worked, management determined that the grievor’s meal sequence was not interrupted by any work obligations to the extent that a dinner allowance would be warranted. The employee departed the office by 16:30 on January 27 to begin the commute home, and had the employee not stopped for dinner, they would have been able to leave the office even sooner. Thus, the disruption to the employee’s schedule caused by an additional 1.5 hours of overtime on January 27, 2019 was minimal and ought not to have altered the grievor’s meal sequence. While not disputing that conditions of the day in question, the Department is of the opinion that the decision to deny the meal allowance was done in good faith and in keeping with the purpose and scope of the Directive.

The Executive Committee considered the report of the Government Travel Committee which concluded that though the grievor’s work situation was stressful and unique, the grievor was treated within the intent of the Travel Directive. It was noted that given that the grievor’s shift ended at 16:30, it is reasonable to expect that they would be responsible for their dinner. As such, the grievance was denied.

Relocation Committee

41.4.133: Employee Requested Relocation

The grievor was hired as a trainee in July 2016. The grievor’s place of duty for training was City F and they were offered, and accepted relocation entitlements in accordance to the Addendum – Initial Appointees Relocation Program (IARP). The grievor’s letter of offer indicated that City F would be their temporary place of duty and that following completion of training, their final location would be City G. The grievor elected to relocate from City H to City F for the duration of the training program while their family remained in City H.

The grievor worked for 12 months in City F until they successfully completed the training, whereupon the Employer confirmed to the grievor that they were entitled to the full benefits under the Relocation Directive. Shortly thereafter, inquiries were made regarding the grievor’s relocation to City G including whether their family could be relocated from City H. On September 14, 2017, the grievor was informed that they would receive full relocation entitlements from City F to City G instead of from City H to City G, as City F was considered their place of duty. Following this decision, the grievor submitted a grievance on September 19, 2017. The grievor grieved the denial by the Employer to grant entitlements under the NJC Relocation Directive.

The Bargaining Agent (BA) representative argued the grievor was not previously informed that by accepting the benefits under the IARP to move to a temporary position in City F, they abandoned their entitlement for a relocation of their family residence to the location of their permanent position. The representative maintained that it was confirmed by the Employer on many occasions that new recruits first receive the IARP allowance and are then completely relocated from their original residence once their permanent assignment began.

The grievor's letter of offer identifies a two-stage relocation, noting their workplace as "City G”; however, there is no provision for a two-step relocation under the Directive. This was not the normal pattern of deployments and therefore caused a convoluted situation that worked entirely to the employee's detriment. The grievor incurred significant expenses that could have been avoided if their letter of offer and the Employer's subsequent responses to their questions had been clear and correct.

In accepting the offer of employment in City F and the associated relocation benefits, the Employer representative argued that the Employer considers the grievor to have relocated. Consequently, the grievor is deemed to have moved to City F even though he left most of his property and his family in City H by personal choice.

The representative submitted that the argument that the grievor would have been initially advised that they would be entitled to a full relocation from City H to City G, regardless of whether they accepted benefits for relocation to City F, cannot be verified. The representative argued that subsection 1.2.6 of the Directive states that expenses resulting from misinterpretation or other errors will not necessarily be reimbursed. In this case, it can therefore be extrapolated that the Employer should not be required to reimburse expenses for erroneous information that could have been given to the grievor.

The Executive Committee considered the report of the Relocation Committee which concluded that the grievor had been treated within the intent of the Relocation Directive. It was noted that the grievor received the initial employee benefits of a relocation from City H to City F. As such, the grievance was denied.

Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee

27.4.131: Environmental Allowance

The grievors grieved that the Employer has violated their rights under the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive of the National Joint Council. The grievors worked in City A, Province M and received notification from the Department advising of a change to the location’s classification level related to the Fuel and Utilities Differential (F&UD) on July 31, 2019, as a result of an annual exercise by Statistics Canada to review classification levels of isolated posts. The classification level would decrease effective November 1, 2019, in accordance with subsection 2.14.1 of the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive (IPGHD). The classification level for City A, Province M had been 25 and was reduced to level 1 following the review. For employees with dependents, this would be a reduction from $6,125 to $125 per year for the F&UD. It should be noted that the Isolated Posts and Government Housing Committee reviewed these F&UD Calculations on May 28, 2019 and approved them secretarially.

On August 22, 2019, a group grievance was submitted grieving the Employer’s violation of rights under the National Joint Council’s IPGHD. At the second level of the grievance procedure, the grievors brought forward an issue relating to the removal of the Living Cost Differential (LCD) for City A, Province M. However, the crux of this grievance relates to the F&UD, as this was the original grievance submission.

The Executive Committee considered the circumstances and arguments with respect to timeliness concerning this grievance. The Executive Committee agreed that the objection to timeliness be dismissed. The Executive Committee also considered the merits of the case and noted that the Fuel and Utilities Differential was calculated using the approved methodology. Consequently, it was determined that the grievors were treated within the intent of the Directive. As such, the grievance was denied.

2021-2022 Yearly Planning Agenda

New & ongoing business

Priority

Objective

Expected Results

Next steps

Timeframe

NEW

Work Force Adjustment Directive Cyclical Review

To commence the cyclical review of the WFA Directive within the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

That the process for the cyclical review of the WFA Directive will have been initiated within the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

· NJC Secretariat to issue input call letter

Early Q4 - NJC Secretariat to issue input call letter

NEW

Travel Directive Cyclical Review

To undertake the cyclical review of the Travel Directive within the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

That the preliminary portions of the cyclical review process be completed and that co-development begin within the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

· NJC Secretariat to issue input call letter

· NJC Secretariat to review results of input call letter and identify any new items

· NJC Secretariat to issue opting call letter

· 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

· NJC Committee Advisor to work with the Government Travel Committee to co-develop the proposals as mandated by the Executive Committee

Q1 - NJC Secretariat to issue input call letter

Early Q3 – NJC Secretariat to review results of input call letter

Q3 – NJC Secretariat to issue opting call letter and review results of opting call

Late Q3 – Executive Committee to review results of opting call and to refer cyclical review of Travel Directive to Government Travel Committee for co-development

Q4 – Government Travel Committee to begin co-development process

NEW

Pandemic response

To provide continued support to Council throughout the various stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That the NJC Secretariat will provide evolving support to Council activities as needs shift during the ongoing pandemic.

· Continue to assess Council needs and adapt accordingly

· Develop a plan for a return to normal operations as and when required

Q1 through Q4 – Continuously evaluate and adapt to Council needs based on the changing landscape

Ongoing

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 2021-2022 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 in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

· OHS Committee to complete negotiations and draft supporting documents for publication

· Executive Committee to review cyclical review report

· Translation of new OHS Directive, Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees and supporting documents

Q1 – OHS Committee to complete co-development process

Q1 – Executive Committee to receive final report and supporting documents

Q2 – Translation of new OHS Directive, Uniforms Directive and First Aid to the General Public – Allowance for Employees and supporting documents

Q3 – Implementation of new Directives/Allowance

Ongoing

Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive Cyclical Review

To undertake the IPGH cyclical review within the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

That the Committee will have significantly advanced negotiations within the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

· NJC Secretariat to review results of input call letter and identify any new items

· NJC Secretariat to issue opting call letter

· 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

· IPGH Committee to receive co-development and cyclical review procedures training

· NJC Committee Advisor to work with the IPGH Committee to co-develop the proposals as mandated by the Executive Committee

Q2 - NJC Secretariat to review results of input call letter

Q2 – NJC Secretariat to issue opting call letter and review results of opting call

Q2 – IPGH Committee to receive co-development and cyclical review procedures training

Q3 – Executive Committee to review results of opting call and to refer cyclical review of IPGH Directive to IPGH Committee for co-development

Late Q3 – IPGH Committee to begin co-development process

Ongoing

Shelter Cost Differential (SCD) methodology

The IPGH Committee 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 prior to 2022-2023.

· IPGH Committee to complete discussions as mandated by the Executive Committee

Q1 through Q4 – IPGH Committee to co-develop a new methodology to replace the existing SCD

Ongoing

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/co-develop networking and/or learning events with partners

· Develop content for webinar series

· Circumstances allowing, coordinate 2022 Seminar

Q1 through Q4 – Develop networking and/or learning events

Q1 through Q3 – Develop content for webinar series and promote events

Q3 through Q4Develop content for 2022 Seminar

Ongoing

Information Sharing/ Consultations/   Co-Development

Council Meetings

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/co-development sessions outside of quarterly Council meetings.

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.

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 regarding consultations with Council

· Ongoing communication with the LR Council and HR Council to identify consultations stemming from conversations at these venues which need to be brought to the NJC

· General Secretary will continue to seek opportunities to spread awareness of the NJC

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

Ongoing

Information Sharing/ Consultations/   Co-Development

 

Working 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.

Sub-committees active at the outset of 2021-2022:

· Joint Sub-committee on Legalization of Cannabis

· Continue to meet with stakeholders and subject matter experts to inform the work of the sub-committees

· 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)

Ongoing

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.

· Provide presentation to Ontario and Northern Region Federal Councils

· Remain in touch with LR Council and all Federal Regional Councils

· Reiterate at Council meetings that presentations on the role and structure of the NJC can be provided to interested stakeholders

Q1 – Provide presentations to Ontario and Northern Region Federal Councils

Q1 through Q4 – Assess available opportunities as they arise

Ongoing

Communications Outreach

Online & 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.

Promote Twitter presence.

Launch and promote progressive web application.

Explore creation and publication of short informational videos.

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

· Promotion of progressive web application

· Investigate possibility of creating informational videos

Q1 through Q2 – Promotion of progressive web application

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

Q1 through Q4 - Promote NJC activities

Q1 through Q4 – Explore creation and publication of videos

Ongoing

Modernization

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.

· Continue to provide training and support to Committee members and clients

· Expand use of system to include the distribution of grievance and meeting documents

Q1 – Provide ongoing training and support to members and clients

Q2 through Q4 – Introduce additional uses such as hearing document distribution, meeting agendas, minutes, etc.

Ongoing

Training

Labour Relations Advisors

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

Deliver virtual courses focused on preparing Labour Relations advisors for final level hearings at the NJC.

Courses will be provided based on demand. The provision of in-person training will resume when circumstances permit.

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

· Continue to assess the demand for training

· 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

· Evaluate possibility of resuming in-person training

Q1 – Assess NJC Secretariat resources and community demand; adjust based on feedback.

Q2 – Schedule virtual session

Early Q3 – Hold virtual session

Q3 – 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

Q1 through Q4 – Assess whether in-person sessions may be held

Ongoing

Training

Working Committee Members

Continue to deliver a 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 member turnover in September

· Offer training session in Q3 and/or Q4 if necessary

Q1 through Q2– Assess Committee member turnover

Q3 – Hold virtual Joint Training session

Q4 – Provide additional training based on demand

Ongoing

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 2021-2022 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 training dates for the IPGH Committee

· Schedule training dates for the Government Travel Committee

Q2 – Provide training to IPGH Committee

Q4 – Provide training to Government Travel Committee

Ongoing

Training

Departmental Liaison Officers (DLOs)

Deliver 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

· Adapt training for virtual delivery

· Investigate level of interest/need in community

Q1 through Q2 – Update training and adapt for virtual delivery

Q3 - Offer training module to DLOs