First off, I’d like to thank all our members who took the time to vote for the ratification of the collective agreement. We now have an excellent collective agreement but, you will notice that said collective agreement has not much in the way of staffing. We have to say that the government has voted a law so that staffing, classification and the pension fund are not negotiable. For those three subjects, we can only influence and we have to ensure that CRA respects their own rules.
On January 24th 2019, I sent a letter to the Minister of National Revenue with a 342 employees petition asking for an end to external hiring for posting to superior levels (see joined document). I would like to thank everyone who signed the petition. Alas, the letter got lost in the Minister’s mail. I re sent the letter and Mr. Dan Couture, ARC’s human resources assistant commissioner, petition gave us an answer (see joined document
CRA’s response is a good legal response because they are exercising their rights. It is a bad management response because the impact of doing that kind of staffing process is so negative on employee morale that it’s a losing proposition for the entire organisation. The good news is that a number of managers understood that it was a bad approach and decided not to use the external process in their staffing. Thank you to the managers of those locations for your enlightened decision. For those locations, no petition was done.
On June 17th 2019, CRA brought out a new staffing policy. The union was consulted but CRA didn’t take into account our point of view. We were confident that CRA would improve the staffing policy by making it more fair, equitable and transparent with real recourses. Alas, the new policy made staffing even more flexible for management which will allow them to, for example, to name a member in a permanent position even if there is a pool and said member fail the process! We are ways away form a more faire, equitable and transparent system! Furthermore, there is no more recourse for permanent and temporary transfers as well as temporary promotions of less than 6 months. Because CRA took away your staffing recourses, you can now file grievances in those circumstances.
Even though, the staffing power of the union is limited, we continue asking questions to management so they have to justify their decisions. For example, all permanent staffing without a process are discussed with the assistant commissioner. This approach require management to be ready to justify this type of decision. This helps to limit the use of permanent staffing without a process.
On September 5th 2019, with the sub-group presidents, we will meet the assistant commissioner and the TSO directors. Staffing will be an important subject of this meeting. Although the new staffing policy leaves a lot of latitude to management, we will ensure that their decisions are justified to obtain good staffing practices. Furthermore, management consults the union on staffing processes so we help to ensure that said processes are well done. The union stays very involved concerning the staffing file because staffing is very important to your career.
If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to communicate with me.
Steve Parent CPA, CMA, D. Fisc
AFS Regional Representative for the Quebec Region
From: Couture, Dan
Sent: June 24, 2019 11:13 AM
To: Parent, Steve <Steve.Parent@cra-arc.gc.ca>
Subject: RE: Petition against external competitions
This correspondence is in response to the petition (attached) sent to the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, regarding external recruitment processes for AU-03 positions in the Quebec Region. Unfortunately, your letter of January 24, 2019, to the Minister’s office was not received.
You raise the impact on the motivation and respect of current employees resulting from the Canada Revenue Agency having considered candidates from the general public to fill AU-03 positions in various offices in the Quebec region.
I would like to point out once again that promoting a balanced approach, where employment opportunities are always present and talented employees from the general public have the opportunity to participate in processes, is a good management practice for the Agency. This approach is consistent with the message from the Clerk of the Privy Council which states that talented mid-career employees must be recruited to take advantage of their expertise and skills.
The Agency is aware of the exceptional work its employees do every day and has reserved the vast majority of AU-03 employment opportunities for them. Over the past year, more than 70 permanent appointments have been made in the Quebec Region to this group and level. Of these, only five appointments were external persons, or 7% of appointments.
We remain confident that the Agency, named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers over the past two years, has the ability to integrate talented external talent when the operating environment results in the delegated staffing manager recruiting externally to the AU-03 group and level.
Also, in the context of the Agency’s regular assessment of its working methods aimed at continuing to be a world-class tax administration, we note the interest of all employees to access senior positions.
Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention, and I wish you success in your future endeavours.
January 24, 2019
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Member of Parliament
Minister of National Revenue
555 MacKenzie Avenue, 7th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L5
Subject: Petition requesting an end to external hiring processes at higher levels
Dear Minister Lebouthillier:
I am submitting to you a petition signed by several Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offices in Quebec. The Quebec City office has already submitted its petition. The remaining offices now follow suit. In total, more than 340 CRA professionals in Quebec have signed this petition. Unfortunately, the answer provided to the Quebec City office by Dan Couture, on your behalf, does not address the issue. Mr. Couture speaks of management law, and I will address employee motivation and respect.
The government usually chooses its ministers from among the members elected from the party in power. Exceptionally, the Prime Minister could choose a minister from outside his or her MPs, but this would lead to grumbling from members of his or her own party and demotivate many. This is similar to what we currently see at the CRA when we hire external people while internal people are available and competent to do the job.
Employees understand very well that if you don’t have the expertise internally, you have to recruit externally, but this is not the case here. In the current situation, the Quebec Region has recruited externally for AU-3 positions (international auditors and tax avoidance). The problem is that there is already an internal pool of more than 50 people who have successfully completed all stages and are waiting for a permanent position, while an external competition is being created and external people are being chosen first. In addition, for offices in more remote regions, employees would like to have these career opportunities, and a portion of these workloads could be assigned to them.
Recruiting AU-3 auditors externally for the Greater Montreal area is not easy. Management seems to think that these people are better than current employees. However, since in the private sector, potential candidates earn 150% to 300% of the salary offered by the CRA, it is difficult to get the very best of these targeted individuals. The CRA is the organization with the largest pool of tax professionals in Canada. It has the means to train its employees for international and avoidance positions, as it has done in the past. This training will take no longer than training external people on all our systems and procedures.
In the past, there have been external AU-3 competitions, but the less restrictive criteria meant that experienced internal employees could apply, which was not the case in the last two processes. When experienced internal employees were able to apply to the AU-3 external competitions, they obtained 80% of the positions and therefore demonstrated that they were very good. The few successful external candidates had a retention rate of 50% after one year. It must be said that the work of a tax auditor is different from the work of a tax planner, the former requiring much more confrontation with the client.
We therefore ask you to prioritize internal employees before external hiring when we have the expertise at hand. The aim is to avoid demotivating auditors and to ensure effectiveness and respect.
Steve Parent, CPA, CMA, D. Fisc
AFS Regional Representative for Quebec
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
Last February, I sent the Minister a petition on external staffing with a total of 342 names of members of the Institute who were dissatisfied with what was happening in Quebec.
I have heard nothing since. I know that Quebec City sent their petition before the rest of Quebec and that you answered on behalf of the Minister. In my letter to the Minister, I indicated that I understood your answer, which spoke of the right to manage, but I raised the points of respect for employees and their motivation. Since sending this request with the rest of the petition, I have received no response. So, the 342 people are still waiting for the Minister’s answer.
Please let me know if you are aware of this file and whether a response will be given.
Steve Parent CPA, CMA, D. Fisc
AFS Regional Representative for Quebec