Earlier this year, PSAC and the employer submitted a joint application to the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) to combine the two Statistical Survey Operations (SSO) bargaining units. The FPSLREB approved the application on June 10, 2021, and we are awaiting the official certificate.
The ruling combines the Regional Offices and Field teams into one bargaining unit. The consolidated unit will provide an opportunity to negotiate a better contract for 1,950 SSO members and give us greater strength in numbers.
PSAC met with the employer to continue negotiations for a consolidated collective agreement in May and July. Our next scheduled meeting is August 17-18 and then again in September, though the dates have not yet been confirmed.
Current PSAC members working for the federal public service received general damages as part of their March 3 pay. However, several issues remain outstanding:
former PSAC members — including retirees — are still waiting for their general damages payments
current and former members who experienced out-of-pocket expenses or severe losses due to Phoenix are still waiting for the launch of a new claims process
the Canada Revenue Agency’s decision to tax the general damages payment
General damages for former and retired PSAC members
Despite requests to accelerate the delivery of general damages payments for former and retired members, the government has set out to make the process available by the fall of 2021. We are disappointed by this lengthy implementation period. However, following pressure by the union, the government has indicated that eligible former members will be provided a more precise timeline for when they will be able to apply for damages payments by the end of July. We will update you at that time.
The government has also updated its general damages webpage so that former members can access forms and resources specific to PSAC members. Previously, former members reported receiving incorrect information, intended for members of other unions, via the government’s website.
Out-of-pocket expenses and severe losses
As part of the Phoenix damages settlement, the government must provide a new claims process for current and former members who experienced out-of-pocket expenses and severe personal and financial impacts due to Phoenix. The government has also targeted fall 2021 as the deadline to finalize the process and make it available to members. At PSAC’s urging for more clarity on timelines, the employer has agreed to provide a more detailed timeline by the end of July. We will update you at that time.
Taxability of Phoenix general damages
PSAC maintains that general damages paid to all employees for “stress, aggravation, and pain and suffering” and for the late implementation of collective agreements are non-taxable. We continue to explore all legal avenues to reverse CRA’s decision to tax general damages paid to members and will provide updates as they become available.
Please be sure to keep your contact information up to date via the member portal to receive all the latest updates on PSAC’s Phoenix settlement.
Passion and commitment were on the agenda at the Parks Canada Agency’s National Virtual Bargaining Conference, held from May 31 to June 2. Delegates from the Union of National Employees (UNE) and the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE) came out of the conference more united than ever after electing their bargaining team and setting priorities for the new round of talks starting this summer.
Meet the Parks Canada Agency bargaining team:
Jaison Van Tine
The bargaining team will be supported by the following PSAC staff:
John Eustace, negotiator
Djimy Theodore, researcher
Parks Canada Agency members proudly work to offer Canadians the best outdoor experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected their work, but they stepped up to guarantee safe access to green spaces across the country. Their essential work in these uncertain times ensured that everyone could keep connecting with Canada’s rich natural and cultural heritage.
At the bargaining conference, members outlined the impact of the pandemic on their work and proposed solutions to improve their working conditions, all of which must be addressed with the agency.
Here is an overview of the key issues discussed at the conference:
In an agency where seasonal and student jobs are common, achieving job security is a top priority. Under the current system, precarious employment creates a lot of stress and is detrimental to mental health.
PSAC is committed to opposing all forms of precarious employment and ensure that all members have access to indeterminate employment.
We must secure wage increases that reflect the rising cost of living as well as our members’ skills, professionalism and dedication.
Many members have also experienced a widening wage gap compared to their private-sector counterparts. We need wage adjustments that keep up with the wages of those doing similar work both within and outside the federal public service.
We believe that provisions governing remote work will be most effective if negotiated into collective agreements.
We must also ensure that remote work is free from remote surveillance and unreasonable performance expectations, that employers cover associated expenses and that concerns relating to accommodations, ergonomics and health and safety are addressed.
Contracting out and privatization
Contracting out and privatization of public services increase costs and risk to taxpayers, reduce the quality of services, erode the internal capacity of the public service, create precarious work, and undermine initiatives that address pay equity and systemic racism.
We must tackle the alarming increase in contracting out of government work, including through temporary staffing agencies.
We must also expand leave provisions (e.g. 699 leave, family-responsibilities leave and sick leave) to improve work-life balance, which is especially critical for women, caregivers and those with disabilities.
We also need to negotiate flexible work options that allow members to shape their workday to match their personal and family responsibilities.
Violence and harassment
Workplace violence and harassment are a health and safety issue that can have severe physical and psychological consequences for members.
We need to build robust mechanisms to tackle these issues, such as mandatory training and support for members.
Our membership at Parks Canada includes many Indigenous members and several parks are located on traditional Indigenous territories.
In recognition of this, it’s necessary to decolonize our collective agreement. We want the agency to formally recognize Indigenous languages and provide an allowance to members who work in their Indigenous language.
Over the next few months, the Parks Canada Agency bargaining team will meet to discuss the bargaining issues prioritized at the National Bargaining Conference and work on a final package of bargaining demands that will be exchanged with the employer.
Make sure to keep your contact information up to date via the member portal to receive all the latest updates as we prepare to negotiate your next contract.
On June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, two important bills received Royal Assent. Bill C-15, titled United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and Bill C-8.
The first piece of legislation “provides that the Government of Canada must take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and must prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the objectives of the Declaration.”
The second piece of legislation “amends the Citizenship Act to include, in the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship, a solemn promise to respect the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, in order to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94.”
We condemn unequivocally the resistance and angst portrayed by many Conservative federal politicians regarding the adoption of Bill C-15. These matters took too long to be addressed, but these are necessary steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and towards building a society that enhances Indigenous-government relations.
We have now entered Pride Month and you will be seeing many activities happening across the country. I wanted to take a moment to celebrate this great country. Pride in Canada starts around the end of May and happens across the country until September. Pride means something different to each person. For some it is a protest for change, a festival to celebrate what has been achieved, a time that we can explore and find out who we are, be our authentic selves, be with our chosen family and many more personal ways and reasons. Those journeys and thoughts on pride are personal and varied. I hope that in this difficult time that we all stay safe, know you are not alone and there is union family out there for you if you need us. We are all here in solidarity for a diverse and inclusive Canada.
Here are a few sites that you can use to explore and some comments from other members of our union family:
I love that Pride just gets bigger and brighter each year and that it celebrates every part of our diverse community and gives us all a platform to be visible and open with each other and with our many incredible allies. That being said, there are still people who aren’t fully or fairly represented, and we need to keep pushing the envelope by ensuring we are being as inclusive as possible to enable historically marginalized queer voices to be heard, validated and celebrated too.
Andrew Shaver – UNE National Executive Vice-President (he/him)
Pride for me means members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community being healthy as their authentic selves. Locally, private online discussions are used to find doctors that are friendly to the gender diverse. This should not be necessary; we should have equal access to healthcare without fear! UNE can advocate for improved healthcare and Pharmacare for the 2SLGBTQ+ community within their workplaces and beyond. It should also include expanded mental healthcare. Current access to the healthcare needs of the 2SLGBTQ+ community is limited and includes long wait times. The Yukon recently developed a new gender-affirming healthcare policy. I would love to see this same comprehensive transgender and gender diverse health and wellness policy advocated for Canada-wide!
Danielle Palmer – UNE Regional Representative for Human Rights, Alberta & NWT & NU
Each year, in June, the LGBTQ2+ community celebrates Pride month. We march every year, to help create awareness and support from the community we live in. We continue our fight year after year because of oppression, and the fight for equality to live our lives as our true selves. It’s also an opportunity to acknowledge that the fight for equality is not over. As long as discrimination on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other forms of discrimination exist we will continue to use our voices loud and proud.
Keith Lemoine – UNE President and Human Rights Representative, Local 10512
Pride was originally a riot, a fight for equal rights, to love who you love, to be who you truly are. 52 years later we are still hearing stories of people attacked for being their authentic self, of people being murdered for living as the gender they are instead of the gender society has assigned them, and of youth being forced from their homes and their family for not conforming. Our fight for equality is not over. We, as Union members, need to educate ourselves and others, so that we may all truly be equal. We all deserve respect, access to medical care, mental health resources, housing, community, and family support. Real love is just love, regardless of gender, or sexual orientation.
Janet Eileen Connor – UNE Regional Representative for Human Rights, Ottawa-Treasury Board
Yours in Solidarity,
Chris Little-Gagné (he/him) UNE National Equity Representative for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People
After months of preparation, bargaining teams for the PA, SV, TC and EB groups are now gearing up for their first meetings with the employer in June. They’ll aim to build on the gains negotiated in the last round of negotiations and put forward proposals that reflect the new realities of our post-pandemic workplaces.
At the common issues table, the bargaining team will negotiate proposals that encompass the needs of all federal public service workers employed by Treasury Board, while teams at each table will negotiate improvements specific to their membership.
Common issues: June 14-15
SV group: June 16-17
TC group: June 16-17
PA group: June 22-23
EB group: June 22-23
To support your elected bargaining team members, we encourage you to download and use your team’s virtual background for all your work meetings and swap out your social media profile picture during National Public Service Week, June 13–19.
Over the next few months, we’ll launch some exciting new engagement tools to help you build support for your team. We are also organizing opportunities for members to learn more about the bargaining process and how to engage with colleagues virtually.
Your commitment to Canadians throughout the pandemic has been invaluable, and we’ll continue to fight for a contract that reflects that. Make sure to keep your contact information up to date to receive all the latest updates and stay connected with your PSAC regional office as we prepare to negotiate your next contract.
The UNE membership has been deeply affected by the discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s remains at the site of the former residential school in Kamloops BC.
Not only is this an almost unspeakable atrocity, within the nation we call Canada, but this has deeply affected many of our members, especially those who work as public servants with Indigenous Services Canada, (ISC) and Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC).
It is most difficult for our members to concentrate on work and family-related tasks when this pall of shame confronts them in dealing with their employer and to Indigenous peoples they serve.
Everyone needs to do more than display a backdrop, draped in orange, that states “Every Child Matters”.
PSAC will defend the use of 699 leave for federal public service workers during the pandemic at adjudication hearings with the Federal Public Service Labour Relations Board August 30 to September 3, 2021. This will be a virtual public hearing.
PSAC filed several policy grievances with Treasury Board, CFIA and other agencies for restricting the use of 699 leave for members who were unable to work because of child care, elder care, disability or other issues brought on by COVID-19. We will also be challenging Treasury Board’s policy that forces members to exhaust all other available leave like vacation, sick, or family leave before they can access 699 Leave for COVID-19-related reasons.
The restrictions disproportionately impact marginalized groups who have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, including women, Indigenous people, racialized employees, workers with disabilities, high-risk workers and workers with family obligations. This violates both members’ collective agreements and the Canadian Human Rights Act. PSAC will also be filing a human rights complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.
PSAC has combined the Treasury Board policy grievances so that they can be heard together at adjudication to speed up the process, and grievances filed with agencies will be on hold until the Treasury Board hearing is resolved.
We continue to fight to ensure that all PSAC members – especially those most affected – have the support they need to get through the pandemic. If you need leave related to COVID-19, you should continue to request 699 leave, and if your request is denied or you’re forced to take other types of leave like vacation, family or sick leave, you should immediately reach out to your PSAC representative or your component labour relations officer to discuss whether you should file an individual or group grievance.
Members employed by Treasury Board and PSAC-UTE members are also eligible for paid 698 leave to attend COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
We’ll continue to provide regular updates throughout the adjudication process.
To enter the conversation around disability inclusion, first consider the concept of disability exclusion. Have you ever experienced it?
Have you ever been excluded because of disability? I have.
Have you ever been unconsidered because of disability? I have.
Have you ever just been left out and not understood why? I have.
Persons with a disability have struggled to be included into the fabric of society on an equal and equitable keel. Things that some take for granted are barriers to others.
A single step in front of a building doesn’t seem like much of a barrier, unless you have a mobility disability.
A movie theatre seems to be barrier free, unless you are deaf and there is no closed captioning.
An elevator seems to be an accessibility tool, unless you are blind and braille is absent from the floor indicator keyboard.
What does accessibility mean? Is that ever a concern or even a consideration for most people?
Accessibility is about more than removing barriers. It is about creating spaces and situations where everyone feels welcomed, even invited, so that they can participate obstruction and discrimination free.
National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) is an opportunity to:
celebrate the valuable contributions of persons with disabilities,
acknowledge the accomplishments of individuals, communities and workplaces to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion,
recognize the ongoing work we all have to do to counter discrimination against persons with disabilities, and
promote a culture of inclusion.
I was recently contacted by a student from about 28 years ago. He was a student in the school where I taught, but was not a student in my class. He recounted one of his remembrances. He shared the following:
“One day he observed a student making fun of me behind my back. I had heard the student, and addressed them. I explained why my gait was as it was. I offered them an opportunity to experience, in a limited way, what I experience with every step. I suggested that the student place a lift under their shoe equivalent to the size of a 2×4 to create a leg length discrepancy and to then walk around and observe the changes to their gait. They explained that that moment had a profound affect on them and was the moment when they learned about empathy, to view things from another’s perspective, and to not judge. They stated that they went home and tried the experiment themself.”
If we are going to affect a cultural change with respect to the perception of accessibility, we need to focus the conversation on removing barriers, enhancing inclusivity and recognizing the diversity of contributions by persons with disabilities. As was the student, we all need to become participants in the change.
It is only by working together that we will achieve a truly accessible and inclusive society that leaves no one behind.
Michael Freeman, UNE National Equity Representative for Persons with Disabilities