YOUR AFS GROUP NEWSLETTER
From the President …
It’s a relief that we can now share an increasingly positive outlook as COVID vaccinations are rolling out and a return to near normal conditions is more probable than ever.
Your AFS Executive continues to be very active in bringing your concerns to management through consultations. We have also begun bargaining preparations as our current contract expires December 21, 2022. Research is underway and we will be sending you bargaining surveys. Your input in essential.
Please keep in mind the importance of taking care of your physical and mental health as you balance work and family responsibilities in these challenging times.
All the best for a safe, happy and enjoyable summer.
From the Editor …
Welcome to our AFS Newsletter. We hope that you enjoy this edition and look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions for future content. This newsletter includes articles on COVID-19, 699 Leave During COVID-19, MS Teams, Employee Wellness Support Program, Official Languages, Phoenix Damages Pay Out, Integrated Staffing System, Bill C-224, PIPSC AGM, and the AFS National Election. The newsletter concludes with AFS contact information.
AFS Secretary and Newsletter Editor
It is now over a year now into the pandemic and the third wave is wreaking havoc in several provinces leading to another round of lock downs. The Agency’s position regarding the returning to workplaces remains the same. Work from home is the default and only critical services that cannot be performed at home will be completed in CRA offices.
Vaccine rollouts have started across the country. Regarding leave for vaccinations members may be eligible for medical appointment leave – code 5300 up to 3.75 hours including reasonable travel time for each appointment. Members who are taking their children to be vaccinated may be eligible for leave with pay COVID-19 Family Care – code 6992 for each appointment. Your manager may require documentation to support this request prior to the leave. While the AFS Group is pleased that the Agency may provide paid time off for employees to attend appointments to receive the vaccine we are disappointed that they will not also authorize the use of COVID Illness – code 6991 for any vaccine side effects preventing an employee to do their duties. Members are being told in this case to use their sick leave.
No doubt the last several months have taken a toll on your well-being. If your well-being is suffering do not hesitate to use the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP program offers you access to qualified mental health professionals who understand the stresses this pandemic has caused and want to help. There are internal CRA coordinators who can provide you with access to external professionals in your area for help. These coordinators can be accessed during working hours either via phone or email. For emergencies external service providers are available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information you can access the EAP page from the Infozone home page.
The AFS Group sincerely wishes that members stay safe during the pandemic. Better days are ahead.
699x Leave During COVID-19
The Agency has added code 6995 COVID-19 High Risk to replace the use of code 6990. The 6995 code is to be used “when the employee is unable to work because a family member that they live with is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” Treasury Board recently made a change to the directive on the use of 699 leave (6990-6994 leave for the CRA). This directive which took effect on November 9, 2020 states that “this leave should be granted on a case-by-case basis, and only after remote or alternate work, or flexible work hours have been considered, and generally only after other relevant paid leave has first been used by the employee.”
As noted earlier the AFS Group is disappointed that code 6991 COVID-19 illness cannot not be used for someone who is experiencing side effects from their vaccination. The rationale provided is that the 699x COVID-19 codes were created to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Instead, those experiencing side effects are to use sick leave. Provided that the vaccines are to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 we are of the opinion that side effects from the vaccine preventing someone from performing their duties is a valid use of 6991 leave. For those who may experience side effects preventing them to go to work request the 6991 leave. If denied, please contact a steward or PIPSC Employment Relations Officer for next steps.
As you are aware, the CRA launched Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) last year in an effort (in their words) to improve collaboration and communication with its employees. There is no arguing that the Covid pandemic has changed not only where we work but how we work. It has also added a great deal of additional stress to our lives both professionally and personally.
A collaboration tool makes sense to help our members perform their work where they contribute to a team or project. There is no arguing that it has proven a valuable tool for collaboration and for conducting virtual meetings.
However, MS Teams is NOT supposed to be used as a monitoring tool for tracking employees. We have been hearing that some of our members have been led to believe that they face disciplinary action if they do not:
- Keep MS Teams on at all times while working
- Are late to turn MS Teams on or
- Do not respond immediately to an MS Teams message.
Under normal circumstances, if you were working from a CRA office and your manager watched over your ever move to the point of causing you anxiety or any discomfort, you would have grounds for a Harassment complaint or grievance based on Work Place Violence.
If you are or have experienced and threat of disciplinary action from the use of MS Teams, please contact your local AFS Steward and we will address the issue immediately with your management.
Employee Wellness Support Program
Regarding the EWSP, the proposed sick leave program, the Treasury Board no longer wants to put it in the collective agreements which had been previously agreed to. This is very concerning. With the EWSP outside of collective agreements the Treasury Board could then make changes to the EWSP without any consultation with the unions. A message from Debi Daviau in March sent to the membership also raised this concern.
The EWSP was to provide 26 weeks of 100% salary protection for each illness. For those with sick leave banks in excess of 26 weeks those banks would be grandfathered but would no longer accrue time. Instead, the additional weeks would be used as a top up in salary from 70% to 100% only once the employee surpassed 26 weeks of consecutive leave. In other words, an employee off sick but returns to work before 26 consecutive weeks of leave is used then the grandfathered bank is not impacted.
The Treasury Board needs to come back to the table and finish the job started back in 2015.
The AFS Group has been working on this issue since the beginning of the pandemic. We want to ensure that the Employer respects the application of the Official Languages Act. We have raised our concerns about lack of available technical training in the French language as well as the lack of career opportunities for unilingual employees to the Employer. We are working with PIPSC resources regarding next steps.
On Infozone it states that in person and virtual meetings much alternate between English and French in a 50/50 or at least a 60/40 split. Unfortunately, we continue to hear from members that this is not the case.
It has also been our experience that in many consultation meetings with the Employer simultaneous translation is not being provided.
As noted in the previous Newsletter it is enshrined in the Official Languages Act that the Employer must commit to equal opportunities and equal participation for both anglophones and francophones. To reduce the amount of participation of unilingual Francophones violates the spirit of the Act. We are consulting with PIPSC legal regarding next steps.
Phoenix Damages Pay Out
PIPSC has concluded negotiations with the Treasury Board Secretariat regarding several top-ups to your Phoenix compensation.
The PIPSC Me Too Clause in the PIPSC Phoenix Damages Settlement Agreement would result in the following:
- Up to $1,000 for settling the Policy Grievances regarding the delay implementation from our 2014 Collective Agreement. The amount would depend on the years being an AFS Member since 2016. It is not related to the $400 we received for the late implementation of our current AFS Collective Agreement.
- $100 for the $400 versus $500 for the late implementation of the current Collective Agreement. All those subject to the current AFS Collective Agreement would receive this $100.
- If a Member earned less than $78,264 or what is calculated to be $300/day ($300/day up to five days vacation; $300 * 5 = $1,500) for any of the years covered by the Phoenix Settlement Agreement, then they would be subject to a top up.
- Please note that a Member can not get any settlement amount twice.
- Any amounts owed should be paid automatically to current Members. However, Members should be vigilant to ensure they receive the amounts they are entitled to. Please contact an AFS Steward if you have any issues.
- Former CRA AFS Members will have to submit a form to receive any additional amounts owed.
- Specific dates for the amounts to be paid to our AFS Members/Former Members is still to be determined.
Integrated Staffing System
With anticipated staffing competitions about to commence, the AFS Group urges all members, if you haven’t already done so, to create an ISS profile. ISS is the main source for job opportunity advertisements. It is important to check and make sure that your education credentials are downloaded and available for verification. ISS is used to verify that you meet the education requirements of the job that you are applying for; don’t get screened out of competition because your education credentials in ISS are not update or not showing.
The AFS Group continues to monitor developments on Bill C-224. The bill was proposed by a member of the Bloc Quebecois that would allow Revenue Quebec to collect federal taxes for Quebec residents. If passed, this could have negatively impacted our members.
Fortunately, the bill was defeated by parliamentary committee. An amended bill was also defeated however the Bloc is still considering another amendment.
The 101st PIPSC AGM began on Saturday December 5th. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the first time in its history the AGM was held virtually via Lumi and Zoom. The AGM was recessed late in the early evening with a resumption date scheduled for April 10, 2021. Due to the third wave of COVID-19 hitting the country the resumption was postponed until June 5, 2021 where it resumed and the remaining business was completed.
The resolutions that passed were:
Term of the PIPSC National Elections committee increased to three years;
A steward must now be informed of any issue that may negatively impact their steward renewal;
A call letter will go out to the membership for interest in participating in CLC committees;
The Training and Education Committee will be renamed to the Training, Education and Mentoring Committee;
PIPSC National Elections will be once again by ranked choice ballot;
Location of the PIPSC AGM can now be within the Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto triangle;
In person meetings can resume on September 1 subject to local health regulations;
Family Care Policy no longer has the restriction on “relatives residing in the household.”;
Financial statements will now have separate entries for the operating fund, strike fund, and bargaining fund;
New initiatives exceeding $500,000 must be approved at the PIPSC AGM;
The audited financial statements, appointment of auditors and July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022 budget were also approved.
It was also decided that due to the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic and the lack of available of space the 2021 PIPSC AGM will also be a virtual AGM.
AFS National Election
The AFS National Election for the position of President concluded on June 7th. President Doug Mason was re-elected as the AFS Group President. The AFS Executive thanks the candidates who showed interest in serving the members of the AFS Group. The AFS Executive also thanks the AFS Elections Committee for administering the election.
Your AFS Group Executive
Vice-President/ CS National Consultation Representative:
Secretary/CS Regional Representative:
Emmanuel “Manny” Costain
Treasurer/Ontario Regional Representative:
Atlantic Regional Representative:
Quebec Regional Representative:
Headquarters Regional Representative:
NCR IT Regional Representative:
Toronto Regional Representative:
Prairie/NWT Regional Representative:
BC/Yukon Regional Representative:
PIPSC Staff Resources for the AFS Group
PIPSC National Office:
Toll Free: 1-800-267-0446
Local: 613-228-6310 (extension 4745)
Toll Free: 1-800-267-0446 (extension 4745)
AFS Administrative Assistant:
Local: 613-228-6310 (extension 4734)
Toll Free: 1-800-267-0446 (extension 4734)