Clarification on the Phoenix Damages

UNE has been given clarification from PSAC with respect to the PSAC Communications re: Phoenix-related damages.

1. The ratification process for Treasury Board (TBS) units had two conditions. One, that we arrive at a tentative agreement at PA and two, that the agreement would be ratified by the PSAC which occurred when the NBOD ratified the damages agreement on July 3, 2020.

2. Parallel agreements will need to be concluded for the following units under TBS control. There has been a commitment by TBS to fund these agreements:

Separate Agencies

  • Parks Canada Agency
  • Statistical Survey Operations (SSO) (Regional Offices/Field Survey Interviewers)
  • Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG)
  • Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (Administrative and Foreign Service/Administrative Support)

3. The following groups will need to be settled/bargained for separately. These groups are outside of TBS control:

Parliamentary Precinct or Crown Corporations

  • Library of Parliament
  • House of Commons
  • Senate
  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
  • National Battlefields Commission (NBC)

The details of the memorandum agreement with respect to all aspects of Phoenix damages will be relayed by PSAC Communications.

 

Important information for SSO Members

July 2, 2020

UNE recently became aware that the Employer started reducing field interviewers’ 3rd quarter Average Work Weeks (AWWs) starting July 1, 2020. This situation could apply to many field interviewers and regional office employees throughout all 3 regions.

To minimize the financial impact, employees are encouraged to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) if they earn $1000 a month or less.

Please ensure that you apply for the CERB through either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), not both. Before applying for the CERB, please check if you are eligible to receive it.

UNE and PSAC remain in close contact with the Employer to provide you with the latest updates on this evolving situation.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact a member of your Local Executive:

UNE Locals with SSO members – Field Interviewers
UNE Locals with SSO members – Regional Offices

For the Public Good: The growing threat of privatization and workers’ proposals to protect our future

PSAC has been one of several unions participating in the Canadian Labour Congress’ Task Force on New Forms of Privatization. On June 25, the Task Force has released its report For the Public Good: The growing threat of privatization and workers’ proposals to protect our future.

The report is the culmination of a thorough analysis of new forms of privatization, in particular social impact bonds (SIBs), pension fund and investor participation in privatized infrastructure, and new federal agencies that motivate and support privatization of services and infrastructure. Which by any measure, should be fully within the public sector in order to serve the public interest. These agencies – The Canada Infrastructure Bank, FinDev Canada, and the Social Finance Fund, along with more traditional forms of privatization, all contribute to the growing instability in public services, at a time when we, more than ever, need a robust public service to ensure competent and effective services for Canadians.

While largely written prior to the COVID19 pandemic, the report does raise the critical role that public services have had in Canada’s response to the crisis. Public sector workers – PSAC members – have been doing this critical work across the country – at the control hub of the response at the Public Health Agency of Canada, in food plants ensuring our food is safe, at our borders and our airports, delivering emergency benefits to workers and to businesses, developing and testing vaccines and treatments.

In some sectors, privatization has resulted in devastating loss of life. We only need to look at the privatized Long-Term Care homes to see the very real, and very tragic results when profit comes before people.

The report outlines a hopeful path forward, bringing public services back in house, and furthering best practices for publicly funded, built and maintained infrastructure that will be critical to not only the recovery from the economic crisis stemming from the COVID19 pandemic, but will also be instrumental in better weathering future crises, whether pandemics, climate change or other.

June is National Indigenous History Month

By Michael Freeman

June, In Canada, is celebrated as National Indigenous History Month. Indigenous Peoples have lived and thrived in the territory that is now known as North America for millennia. Oh, people may argue with the exact timeline but oral history and traditional knowledge are all that We, the Original Peoples, need as substantiation.

National Indigenous History Month is a time for remembering, a time for learning, a time for celebrating, a time for healing, a time for growth, a time of unification, a time of reconciliation, a time of hope and a time for like-minded peoples to come together to be stronger in unity.

Indigenous Peoples within Canada (defined as Aboriginal, Metis, Inuit) have had a diverse history and a unique experience coast to coast to coast, interrupted, complicated and forever altered by the arrival of explorers and immigration to this land. The struggle to coexist has been the foundation of a fluid relationship fluctuating from confrontational, at the worst of times, to one of pride and celebration, at the best of times.

Through your own search and study, explore the rich history of Indigenous Peoples. Be sure to research a good mix of historical documents, treaty documents, policy and documents of reconciliation. There are many current Indigenous authors and a wealth of their works to keep you connected, reading and learning for many weeks and months to come. Do not fall into the trap of reading only the history tomes written by non-Indigenous authors and filtered through their non-Indigenous lenses.

Due to the current pandemic affecting every aspect of society, many of the gatherings, celebrations and ceremonies planned in honour and recognition of the rich and storied history of Indigenous Peoples have been postponed or cancelled. Look to the virtual experience as you explore the many web portals available.

It is time to loose the bondage of the undercurrent of racism, in this country, against Indigenous Peoples. Become part of the solution, if you are not already, by committing to understanding the true relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples and actively working to improve it. Dig deeper than the spectacular layers of pageantry and the ignorant layers of the stereotypical.

Be curious. Be teachable. Be willing to learn. Be open to new ideas. But above all, enjoy the experience.

Michael Freeman is the UNE’s National Equity Representative for Persons with Disabilities, member of the EB Bargaining Team, President of UNE Local 00128, and a teacher and policy writer for ISC on the Six Nations Reservation in Ontario.

 

 

Message from the UNE National President on National Public Service Week

Members of the UNE Family,

This week is National Public Service Week (NPSW). Its goal is to “recognize the value of the services rendered by federal public service employees” and to “acknowledge the contribution of federal public service employees to the federal administration.”

Since the COVID-19 outbreak started, our members have been exemplary and stepped up to the plate and made sure federal public services were delivered. Whether our members are performing critical work or working remotely from their homes, they adapted quickly to an unprecedented situation.

Many of our members under federal jurisdiction are still attempting to negotiate a fair and just collective agreement including separate employers members, Treasury Board members at the Program and Administrative Services (PA), Operational Services (SV), Technical Services (TC), and Education and Library Science (EB) bargaining tables, Parks Canada members, and Statistical Survey Operations (SSO) members.

UNE members have been here for Canada during the pandemic, so we expect the Government of Canada to be there for them, if they truly value their workforce, and return to the bargaining table.

Respectfully and in Solidarity,

Kevin King
UNE National President

Message from the UNE National Equity Representative for Racially Visible People

In a turn of recent events, images captured and circulated worldwide have shown a continued pattern of racism and human rights atrocities that has continually plagued Blacks. A series of tragic events, culminating with the killing of George Floyd. And while we know that the Union of National Employees rejects racism in any form, we understand that these events also come at a time when the world is experiencing a heightened sense of isolation, uncertainty, and fear.

The National Representative for the Racially Visible members recognizes the importance of reaching out and sending a message to express ongoing support to visible minorities who may be experiencing outrage, fear and frustration – not only as it relates to recent events, but also at the lack of mechanisms to address the systemic barriers and biases that feed into the racist practices and ideologies which lends itself to the overarching issue of racism and its ongoing impact that we, people of colour, are faced with on a daily basis.

Let’s take this moment to call upon the leadership, specifically union leaders, to speak up and reach out to your Components, your locals, regions and its representatives as well as those in your membership who self-identify as visible minorities.

Time is upon us and the air is heavy with unrest. We need to seize the opportunity to self-reflect and explore, and address the attitudes, beliefs, and systemic barriers that continue to harm Black and minority communities.

It is a time for us to become better informed about all forms of racism by developing and participating in anti-racism and unconscious bias learning activities. It is a time to ask ourselves what we can do as union leaders and activists to be part of the solution. The time is now, we must stand up and become an ally, be compassionate and respectful of those in our membership ranks who may be traumatized by the experience and realities of racism.

Conversations need to include discussions around the creation of safe spaces, racism, and discrimination; as well as unconscious bias as it relates to inclusion practices in the union’s rank and file, while advocating for change throughout all departments.

As part of these efforts, our union leaders need to highlight that as a collective we are all responsible for fostering an inclusive, accessible, respectful, equitable and safe workplace for people of all races.

We no longer have the option of adopting a false sense of security.

We no longer have the recourse of our rose covered spectacles.

We no longer can shield ourselves under the premise that We, this land, our union is immune to the happenings and the events that go beyond our borders.

Let’s stand together, raise our collective voices and work towards being agents of change in addressing anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and all forms of racism.

Hayley Millington
UNE National Equity Representative for Racially Visible People

PSAC welcomes government measures to support workers

In addition to those in the federal public service, PSAC represents many workers in our universities, gaming sector, security industry, and at national airports. Many of these members are facing layoffs and fearing pay interruption due to the health crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19.

Federal and provincial governments have announced a range of measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on individuals and the economy. Many of these measures address short-term needs and are a direct response to the deficiencies in our support systems, however the governments’ actions are urgently needed and we welcome them. The following is a list of the measures announced (to date) designed to support workers.

Please note this page will be updated regularly as announcements of new measures are made.

Federal Government

New sickness and care benefit

An emergency care benefit of $450 per week for 14 weeks, regardless of your previous income, for anyone who is ill with the virus, in imposed quarantine or self-isolation, is caring for someone who is ill, or is unable to work in order to care for children due to school closures. The benefit also will be available to anyone who doesn’t qualify for or was denied EI sickness benefits. Payments are estimated to begin start sometime in April.

For anyone who qualifies for EI sickness benefits, the one-week waiting period has been waived and no doctor’s notes are required.

Emergency benefit for unemployed workers

The government will be making $5 billion available to support unemployed workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance. Few details are available at this time other than it is expected to be available in April and will be handled through the Canada Revenue Agency.

Canada student loan payments deferred

Anyone repaying government student loans will not have to make any payments for six months, interest-free. This does not apply to private bank student loans.

Help for vulnerable communities

$350 million has been committed to a new Indigenous community support fund to address immediate needs in their communities.

Up to $50 million for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, including those in Indigenous communities, to prevent women from feeling forced to stay at home in abusive relationships.

$157.5 million is earmarked to support people experiencing homelessness.

New deadline for tax filing and payment

The deadline for filing taxes has been pushed to June 1. And anyone with income tax payments due between now and September 2020, has until August 31, 2020 to submit their payment.

Special GST credit and enhanced Canada Child Benefit payments

The government has committed to introduce a one-time emergency GST credit for low- and modest-income families: maximum of $300 per adult and $150 per childexpected in early May.

In additionthose who receive the Canada Child Benefit will see the maximum payment amount increase by $300 per child for thMay payment only.

The value of both these benefits falls as income increases.

Supports for business

The government’s economic package also includes supplements for small businesses to help keep workers employed. Corporations are being allowed to temporarily hold onto $55 billion in consumer taxes and income tax deducted from pay cheques until September 2019.

We encourage everyone to keep yourself and workers safe. Apply for EI and other benefits online.

For more information on these measures and others, visit the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

Provincial Governments

Alberta

Emergency isolation support is available to working adults who must self-isolate or who are the sole care-giver for a dependent in self-isolation. A one-time payment of $1,146 is available until the federal emergency payments begin in April.

Residents can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days.

Full details of measures announced by the Alberta government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

British Columbia

 

The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. The benefit will be a one-time payment for British Columbians who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or Emergency Support Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

The government is increasing and expanding the B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit in July 2020. Eligible families of four will receive up to $564 and eligible individuals will receive up to $218 in an enhanced payment. This boosts the regular climate action tax credit payment of up to $112.50 per family of four and up to $43.50 per adult.

The government is waiving the Medical Services Plan (MSP) coverage wait period for people moving back to B.C. from COVID-19 impacted areas.

There is a ban on evictions for non-payment of rent in BC Housing-funded buildings. Individuals needing more time to pay bills can apply to payment deferral programs.

Child care providers who close due to COVID-19 will also receive support to help ensure they are able to pay their fixed costs, like rent/lease/mortgage during the temporary closure, so they can reopen when able.

Full details of measures announced by the British Columbia government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

 

Manitoba

 

The Manitoba government is investing $27.6 million to help provide child care to essential front-line workers as they support the province’s COVID-19 response.

Full details of measures to be introduced by the Manitoba government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

 

New Brunswick

 

The provincial government is working to minimize the financial impacts that child care facility closures are having on parents.

All licences, registrations, certificates and permits that were valid as of March 16, 2020, will remain valid until May 31, 2020.

Full details of measures to be introduced by the New Brunswick government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

 

Newfoundland & Labrador

 

The provincial government will provide compensation to eligible private sector employers to ensure continuation of pay for employees having to self-isolate due to travel. Employees should retain documents regarding their travel (such as boarding passes) to facilitate reimbursement. Provincial public sector employees affected by this decision will continue to be paid as usual.

To ensure families do not have to pay child care fees and that early childhood educators can continue to be paid while centres are closed due to COVID-19, the government will provide funding to regulated child care centres and family child care homes at the child care subsidy program rates for all licensed spaces until April 30.

Full details of measures to be introduced by the Newfoundland and Labrador government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

 

Northwest Territories

Workplaces who provide essential services but has an employee who chooses to self-identify as high risk for severe outcomes (age over 60, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, cancer, immune suppression), must put a plan in place to minimize exposure to COVID-19 for these individuals.

Nova Scotia

 

The government has invested $2.2 million so that every individual and family member on income assistance will receive an additional $50 to help pay for food, cleaning supplies and personal care items. People do not need to apply.

Tenants cannot be evicted if their income has been impacted by COVID-19 for the next 3 months.

Full details of measures to be introduced by the Nova Scotia government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

Nunavut

$25,000 to the Hunter and Trapper Organization for community harvesting and to provide food for their communities.

The government will be providing funds to all licensed child care facilities equal to the parental fees facilities would normally collect during the announced three-week closure. This will allow licenced child care facilities to not charge parental fees for this period but still pay their staff as normal.

Full details of measures to be introduced by the Nunavut government can be found on the government’s homepage.

Ontario

 

The Ontario government has enacted the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies) to provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine, or those that need to be away due to child care.

Select child care centres will be allowed to open to ensure frontline staff can continue to work. Health care and other frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, police, and correctional officers, will be eligible to access local emergency child care. The list of emergency child centre locations will be available at ontario.ca/coronavirus.

Ontario is waiving the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. Additionally, the province will cover the cost of COVID-19 services for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage.

For the next 45 days, the government will suspend time-of-use electricity rates and switch to an off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week and will be applied automatically to hydro bills. The Ontario Energy Board is banning disconnections until July 31st.

Driver licences, vehicle and carrier products, services and health cards will have their validity extended to reduce the need for in-person visits to government service offices.

$304 million in relief funding has been provided for hospitals, frontline workers, long-term care homes, retirement homes, residential facilities, and Indigenous communities.

Instead of the annual Budget, an economic and fiscal update will be released on March 25.

Full details of measures announced by the Ontario government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

Prince Edward Island

 

The Emergency Relief Worker Assistance Program will provide $250 a week to employees who have seen a significant reduction in their work hours. Employers have to complete the application on behalf of workers.

$2 million has been set aside to support early learning centres and their staff, to maintain child care spaces and to ensure parents do not pay fees during the period of closures.

The PEI government announced a $25 million Emergency Contingency Fund. This new fund supports workers and small businesses affected by the pandemic. Additional details on the program have not yet been released. Read more: Financial Support for Islanders.

Quebec

 

The Temporary Aid for Workers Program offers financial assistance to workers who cannot work because they are in self-isolation for 14 days and are not eligible for another financial assistance program. An eligible worker will be given $573 per week for the 2-week period. If your health has not improved after 14 days, the coverage period for an eligible person could be extended to a maximum of 28 days.

Employers have been asked to implement flexible work schedules for employees to limit crowds in public transit during rush hour.

Full details of measures announced by the Quebec government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

Saskatchewan

 

The Saskatchewan government introduced measures to ensure employees have access to job protected leaves during this public health emergency.

All crown utilities in Saskatchewan will implement bill-deferral programs allowing a zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for Saskatchewan residents whose ability to make bill payments may be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions.

Full details of measures announced by the Saskatchewan government can be found on the province’s COVID-19 information web page.

 

 

 

 

Yukon

The Yukon government has announced a stimulus package, which does not yet have a disclosed budget, will support workers, cancelled events, local businesses, and the tourism and cultural sectors.  

 

 

All PSAC Regional Conventions Postponed

In keeping with recommendations from both local and national health authorities regarding COVID-19, PSAC has made the difficult decision to suspend the remaining four PSAC Regional Conventions. All seven PSAC Regional Conventions are now postponed:

·       National Capital Region (April 17-19, 2020)

·       Quebec Region (April 24-26, 2020)

·       British Columbia Region (May 1-3, 2020)

·       Ontario Region (May 29-31, 2020)

·       North Region (June 5-7,2020)

·       Prairies Region (June 12-14, 2020)

·       Atlantic Region (June 26-28, 2020)

The PSAC will continue to closely monitor the situation and make efforts to reschedule at a future date if possible.

For our latest PSAC information about COVID-19, please visit their information page.

Public Interest Commission report ties Parks Canada workers’ fate to PA group

An uneventful Public Interest Commission (PIC) report has intertwined the fate of 5,800 Parks Canada workers with PSAC’s largest bargaining unit – the PA group.

The recently published report unfortunately made little to no recommendations, instead it draws a parallel between the Parks bargaining table and PSAC’s PA bargaining table. The report quotes directly from the PA PIC report, and states that without the major common issues being resolved, such as Phoenix compensation and higher wage increases, the parties will find it difficult to reach a tentative agreement.  

PSAC is disappointed that the PIC did not explicitly make specific recommendations on key Parks issues such as:

  • parity with the core public service;
  • Phoenix pay protections and remedies;
  • a competitive wage increase;
  • fair compensation for Park Wardens;
  • work life balance initiatives, such as improved maternity and parental leave;
  • protections in the workplace; and
  • fairness for seasonal and term workers.

However, the PIC did acknowledge the struggle Parks Canada workers have had in achieving parity with the core public service since Parks was made a separate agency nearly 20 years ago. The report suggests parity with the core is an issue that will need to be addressed if the Parks Canada Agency hopes to reach an agreement with Parks members.

Next steps

Although National President Chris Aylward has authorized strike votes for the Parks bargaining unit, all strike votes are currently suspended until March 30. At that time the union will re-evaluate whether to continue the suspension or resume the strike votes. 

Despite the suspension of votes, PSAC will continue to bargain for all units currently in negotiations.

We will be updating our national and regional websites, social media, as well as sending information by email as the situation develops. We encourage all our members to check these resources regularly and subscribe to our mailing list.

Source: http://psacunion.ca/public-interest-commission-report-ties-parks

COVID-19: PSAC strike votes and union events suspended

Strike votes

As the number of reported cases of the coronavirus rise in Canada, it is important that PSAC take precautions and act proactively to safeguard the health and safety of our members, as well as the Canadian public.

In keeping with recommendations from both local and national health authorities, the union has made the difficult decision to suspend activities that would require a large gathering of members.

Strike votes in particular will be suspended until March 30, and at that time the union will re-evaluate whether to continue the suspension or resume the strike votes. This includes the over 120,000 PSAC members of the Canada Revenue Agency, Treasury Board, and Parks Canada bargaining units. We must put the wellbeing of our members and all Canadians first at this critical time.

Despite the suspension of votes, PSAC will continue to bargain for all units currently in negotiations.

For updates on the 2019-n-CoV/COVID-19 situation in Canada, please visit: Government of Canada (Public Health Agency of Canada) – 2019 Novel Coronavirus infection: Outbreak update

PSAC events

Some large gatherings will also be postponed for the time being. This includes the upcoming 2020 PSAC National Women’s Conference that was set to take place in Ottawa from April 3 to 5.

Should additional events be postponed, the union will be in touch directly with any participants that have registered for events and will update members on scheduling changes.

To ensure the safety of our members, we also ask that smaller gatherings like local meetings, committee meetings, and regional activities be conducted remotely via teleconference or video conference wherever possible, or postponed.

We will be updating our national and regional websites, social media, as well as sending information by email as the situation develops. We encourage all our members to check these resources regularly and subscribe to our mailing list.