TORONTO TSO AUDIT, FINANCIAL AND SCIENTIFIC (AFS) GROUP NEWS
From the President and Vice President
Finally after close to two and a half years of pandemic mode, we can now get back to our lives, adjusting to our new normal cautiously. We continue to urge our members to help each other and give each other more understanding as mental health affects each individual differently. As we move forward, we can assure you that our local union will continue to work hard, on your behalf. Please do not hesitate to contact a local steward or our AFS Executive for any questions or concerns you may have.
Stay informed, stay safe and keep healthy!
Take time to enjoy, make memories, and have a wonderful summer!
KC (President) & Satie Narain-Simon, VP
From the Editor, Satie Narain-Simon
Welcome to our AFS Newsletter. We hope you enjoy this edition and we look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions for future content. I want to thank Renee Monize for her ongoing contributions. This newsletter includes articles on our new National President’s messages to members, Lunch and Learn, and EAP. The newsletter concludes with AFS contact information.
News! We have a new National President! By Satie Narain-Simon
We have a new National President, Jennifer Carr! Here is a bit about Jenn, sourced from the PIPSC website.
Jennifer Carr was elected President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) on November 6, 2021.
Jennifer has worked in the federal public service for close to 20 years in a number of capacities. Until her election as president, she was an environmental engineer at the Department of National Defence (DND), where she helped ensure the air quality in Canada’s submarines. Her time with the federal public service has provided her many opportunities, including working at the Canadian Forces Base in Cold Lake Alberta.
Jennifer’s priorities as president include increasing members’ engagement in their union and strengthening representational services.
The mother of 3 children, Jennifer lives in Aylmer, Quebec.
What PIPSC Does For You by Satie Narain-Simon
I am including this segment once again in our newsletter, reason being, of the importance for us, members, especially the new members. Important information, worth becoming familiar with what your PIPSC union does for you. The following is an excerpt from the PIPSC website what PIPSC does for you:
- Fair collective agreements are the benchmark of a successful union!
To ensure your bargaining team achieves the best results, PIPSC provides your Group with top-notch negotiators, research staff and analysts.
- Problem in the workplace with your employer or with a co-worker?
Over the course of your career, you may find yourself involved in an individual or collective grievance. PIPSC stewards and staff will ensure that your rights are fully protected. You will be well represented every step of the way.
- Do your salary and tasks accurately reflect your actual contribution in the workplace?
We provide expert opinion on our members’ work descriptions and classifications to correct inequalities.
- Are you concerned about losing your job because of government cutbacks?
We advise and protect members whose positions have been jeopardized by Workforce Adjustment (WFA) or other employer-driven initiatives.
- Are you concerned that your voice isn’t heard in Parliament?
We work with federal politicians of all parties (PIPSC is a non-partisan organization) to identify and resolve issues of importance to our members.
- Do Canadians know what you do?
We develop media campaigns to make Canadians aware of the critical role the public service plays in protecting their safety and well-being.
- Is there strength in numbers?
Absolutely. PIPSC works with other unions and interest groups to protect our members ‘rights and the services Canadians need and deserve.
Why it is important to use your vacation leave? By Renee Monize
Since March of 2020, employees all over the world have shorten, postponed, or canceled their vacation time. Over the last two and a half years it has become easier to travel across the world with many countries easing entry and exit requirements due to the Covid-19 virus. The new problem with travel is that staffing at airports and with the airlines has not returned to normal, which has made travelling a total nightmare. Also, the cost of travel has increased significantly over the last two and half years.
But not being able to travel is not a reason to not take vacation leave. I’m sure many of you are like me tired of listening to management tell you that your vacation leave balance is over 262.5 hours and when are you going to be scheduling your time off because there is no vacation cash out this year.
Whether or not you can travel, it is important that we all should take our vacation leave annually. Taking time off from work allows you to rest and be a more productive employee. According to an article published by McMaster’s University it states that employees should take vacation for the following reasons:
- Rest, Relax and Recharge
- Avoid Burnout, Increase mental and Physical well-being
- Increase productivity and focus
- Lower Stress
- For Inspiration
- Relationship Building
- Team Building
- Being Present
The same article also lists some ideas of activities you can do using your vacation leave besides travelling. Some examples are as follows:
- Get Active – try a new physical activity.
- Enjoy your downtime – go outside. Take a break from social media and unplug from technology.
- Work on household projects – gardening, painting a room in your house or creating a new space in your home.
- Start planning or daydreaming – plan a celebration, dream vacation or getting something done on your bucket list.
- Travel without leaving your home – take virtual tours, learn a new language, or watch a live performance.
- Get Social – Host a virtual game night, take a trip down memory lane or do a random act of kindness.
This article provides great suggestions. Please use your well-deserved time off to rest and recharge before March 31, 2023.
Lunch and Learn, by Renee Monize
The following extracted (published July 15th) from the PIPSC:
Positive meeting with Treasury Board President Fortier about return to the workplace
On June 30, 2022 , President Jennifer Carr met with Treasury Board (TB) President Mona Fortier to discuss key member concerns, including the return to the workplace and the government’s strategic review of public services announced in its 2022 budget.
Return to the workplace
Jennifer advocated for the employer to show flexibility as the public service evolves into a “hybrid” model.
Throughout the pandemic, our members have demonstrated their ability to support Canadians while working remotely. With new technologies, we no longer need to be “tied to our desks.”
A majority of our members have expressed a preference for working from home at least part of the time. It creates a better work-life balance with no loss of productivity or effectiveness.
The employer must provide access to hybrid and telework arrangements that are:
- Accommodating to individual preferences
- Approved without bias or unreasonable criteria.
They also need to support the right to disconnect and work-life balance.
We will not stand for compromised safety for members who cannot or do not wish to work from home. Air quality, ventilation and building safety need to be front and center in any return-to-work plans. All departments and agencies must be transparent and work with our representatives on their plans to “open up” worksites. They must respect collective agreements and all applicable legislation.
The TB wants this important conversation to happen at the National Joint Council, where representatives of federal bargaining agents and the employer regularly meet to discuss critical issues.
Strategic review of the public service
President Carr emphasized that the strategic review should not be a “one size fits all” review like the review under the Harper government. Our members, and the Canadians they serve, are still feeling the impact of those cuts from over a decade ago.
President Fortier reiterated the government’s desire for a “smarter, not smaller” public service. She is looking to create efficiencies and demonstrate fiscal responsibility - offering programs more efficiently while still maintaining service levels.
Employee Assistance (EAP) by Satie Narain-Simon:
I found the following article from “Happify” so interesting, thought I would share with our members:
When you think about whose voice you listen to most in your life, it’s probably not that of your partner, your child, or even your favorite singer—it’s your own inner voice—the one inside your head. According to Ethan Kross, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan and author of the acclaimed new book Chatter, we spend between one-half and one-third of our lives drifting away inside our minds rather than focusing on the present. And during most of that time, we're talking to ourselves.
When that inner talk creates a negative cycle of worrying, ruminating, and catastrophizing, it can keep us rooted to the spot, unable to move forward—and that is what Kross calls chatter. “But self-talk can also be an amazing tool of the mind,” Kross explains - “We can use the language in our head, silently, to help navigate the world. It can help us keep information active in our heads, coach ourselves through problems, and tell ourselves the stories of our lives, all of which help us shape our sense of who we are.”
Call Yourself by Your Name
Kross points out that it is much easier for most of us to give other people advice than to listen to the advice of our own inner voice. “By using your name and second-person pronouns to talk to yourself, it shifts your perspective and helps you talk to yourself as if you’re relating to someone else,” he says. This is a strategy he calls distanced self-talk.
Fire Up Your Mental Time Machine
Using a strategy called temporal distancing, Kross suggests, “Instead of immersing yourself in the chatter, jump into the future and ask yourself, ‘How am I going to feel about this six weeks or six months from now?” You can even jump into the past to put your worries in perspective. “That gives us hope, and hope is a powerful tool for turning chatter down.”
Get Back to Nature
Years of research have shown the mental-health benefits of walking in a safe, green space, says Kross. “When we attend to beautiful things, we’re not attending to our chatter, and it takes the foot off the gas. It helps restore us, and when we’re done with that walk, it’s easier to use other strategies to focus on work or whatever else you want to do.”
Assemble Your Board of Chatter Advisors
Talking out your problems with a friend can help you feel validated and less alone—but if that friend only listens and sympathizes, it won’t necessarily help you move past the chatter, Kross explains. “You want to talk to someone who, at a certain point in the conversation, will nudge you to look at the bigger picture and push you out of the tunnel vision that can happen with chatter.”
Help Others Invisibly
When you see a friend or a family member struggling with chatter, you can help them out without them even knowing, says Kross. “Don’t jump in and try to help if they don’t ask—that can backfire,” he says. Instead, you can try to make their life easier, by volunteering to make dinner or to do the laundry, without mentioning their issues. “If you see someone at work struggling, instead of talking to them and spotlighting their inadequacy, send an email to the entire team suggesting a book on stress that’s helpful,” he says.
Random act of Kindness by Satie Narain-Simon, Chair of EAP
Goodness is all around us, “yes” 2022 in the city of millions!
A few weeks ago on an early morning walk, in passing I noticed two youths, male and female trying to take a pic on one of Toronto’s monuments, Jack Layton. I stopped by and asked if they wanted me to take their pic also mentioning that the figure on the bicycle monument, was one of Toronto’s Mayors. The male youth, let’s call him Toby, said that he wishes the monument brings him some luck, I sensed immediately that something was not right. I said with urgency “believe that good things are going to happen for you, the question is, do you really believe?” The female let’s call her, Marie, started to cry. They both went om to tell me that they are friends, both going through a tough time, and spur of the moment decided to get tickets for a concert the night before at the Scotiabank Centre. They were both from a small town off of Woodstock, not familiar with the city, just parked their vehicle in a parking lot, the first one they saw, locked the ticket in the van, guess what? After the concert ended, they walked all night looking for their van. More tears, I sensed the frustration, tiredness, lack of hope, scared etc. I gave them directions the Marine Unit close by, thinking for sure they will get better help than me. After they left, I decided to proceed to the Marine Unit to ensure they got there, I explained to the police on site some details, gave them some money for breakfast, my number, and asked them to keep me updated, and left. They began to crack a smile, hopeful.
They called a bit later, not much assistance from the Unit other than the number to call for ‘Lost & Found’. I told them not to lose hope, come to my home, and together we will find their vehicle. I gave them toothbrushes etc. to refresh, some motivational life talk - they were happy, felt comfortable and off we went, proceeding with the search. We retracked the steps from the Scotiabank Centre to surrounding parking lots, just as I was beginning to feel unsure, I decided to go across the new CIBC building parking lot office. There were no signs of public parking but on a whim, gave the parking lot office manager details of the issue on hand. At the same time an attendant was getting off his 12-hour shift, he said he will join us on the search. He took us to a parking lot that I would not have thought of, and voila! there was the van! We all hugged, by now the youths experiencing so many life lessons; one being, the power of good deeds, love amongst strangers in a big city etc.
Now as we proceeded to the exit, Marie explained via telecom to the parking supervisor on shift what happened to them, he let them go, no charge, and the goodness continued. I returned to that Lot letting the supervisor aware of the trail of events, and his part of the “good deed machine”, we all felt so grateful, so acknowledged by a greater force for reasons we might not understand. What I do know, it changed Toby and Marie lives in a positive way – Toby went on to say his lesson on the “power to believe”, he said it started with him giving a couple of cigarettes to a homeless, then I showed up and the rest is history!
At 9 pm that night, Marie sent me a text – “I am home safe with my two babies tucked away in bed. God Bless you for everything you did for us.
It is important during bargaining to have home emails and telephone numbers of all our members. In this way we can contact you with important bargaining information. Also, if we start to have strike activities, we need to be able to contact you outside of the office. Send this information to Satie Narain-Simon, Roland Bastair- Williams or KC Tiow (their emails can be found at the bottom of this newsletter).
It’s easy …
- Read your PIPSC and AFS newsletters
- Respond to PIPSC surveys
- Ask your steward questions
- Attend union meetings
- Provide your input to stewards
If you’ve read this newsletter, then you’ve already taken the first step to get involved … congratulations!
Toronto Centre Steward List:
President KC Tiow firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice President Satie Narain-Simon email@example.com
Treasurer Rajan Tharmarajah
Secretary Roland Bastair-Williams firstname.lastname@example.org
Member-at-Large Renee Monize
Member-at-Large Nesia Cameron
Member-at-Large Amin Lalji
Member-at-Large Julia Bullough
Member-at-Large Arun Sharma
Steward David Darling
Steward Steve Kyskira
Steward Kidane Afeworki
Steward Bawa Goraya
Steward Shelton Chu
Steward Shiping Zhang
PIPSC Staff Resources
Toronto TSO ERO