The Chairperson of the meeting and President, AFS Group, welcomed the participants to
the second CRA-AFS NUMCC meeting of 2022 and invited the AFS national
representatives to introduce themselves.
The BC / Yukon Region AFS Representative began by expressing that AFS members
were pleased that the Western Region governance structure had been finalized and
thanked the Assistant Commissioner (AC), Western Region, and the Regional Human
Resources Director for making it happen. He then noted that staffing issues for the high
complexity audit workload continue to be problematic in the Western Region. He
explained that auditors in British Colombia voiced concerns and dissatisfaction regarding
acting assignments at the AU-06 level being offered to AU-04 auditors while members in
valid AU05 pools are still waiting for appointments. New job posters for the same
positions brings members to question if a new competition is a good use of CRA
resources and taxpayers’ monies when valid pools still exist. On behalf of the AFS
members of British Columbia, the BC / Yukon Region AFS Representative thanked the
AC, Western Region, for understanding their frustration and for her commitment to work
on this issue in collaboration with the Prairie / NWT Region AFS Representative. Finally,
he highlighted the fact that the Western Region Management team did not send the AFS
Group Annual General Meeting invitation to AFS members via the CRA email system
despite having done so for the past 15 years. Although this sudden change of practice is
disappointing to AFS members, he noted that grievances filed regarding this decision will
be placed in abeyance so that parties can attempt to resolve the issue in a timely manner.
The President, AFS Group, said he was looking forward to this hybrid meeting, which
happens to be the first partially in-person consultation meeting held between the CRA
and the AFS Group since before the pandemic. He added that the hybrid nature of the
meeting has the advantage of benefiting from face-to-face meetings as well as leveraging
the inclusion of those who cannot attend in person or who prefer to attend virtually. He
expressed his pride for AFS members who worked hard all through the pandemic to
make sure Canadians continued to receive the normal benefits they were entitled to
receive. He added that he was very proud of AFS members for their work to enable new
emergency benefits to be introduced and delivered in unprecedented time. He pointed out
that the integrity of the CRA and its employees had recently been unjustly attacked in the
press; although it is not the first time this has happened, AFS members expect their
employer to publicly stand behind them the same way they have stood behind
In his opening remarks, the Commissioner welcomed the participants to the first partially
in-person meeting since 2019 and said it was a great opportunity to meet in person again.
As with all things in the Journey to Hybrid, he stated that the CRA struggled and learned
lessons while sailing on trouble waters. There have been a few obstacles with technology
but the CRA has shown up with resilience, willingness and the ability to be flexible in how
we operate. As a result of this, we were able to overcome challenges during the
pandemic and learn new lessons from this experience. He emphasized the importance of
the work and informal discussions taking place on a regular basis between the formal
The Commissioner indicated that there were changes at the Management table since the
last meeting. Janique Caron, Assistant Commissioner (AC), Finance and Administration
Branch (FAB) will retire from the Agency in December 2022 but her last official day in the
office was September 30, 2022. Frank Vermaeten, Assistant Commissioner, Assessment
and Benefits Services Branch (ABSB), will be retiring from the Agency on March 31,
2023, but will hold the position of Senior Advisor to the Commissioner until his last day in
the office on December 16, 2022. He highlighted the great contribution they had brought
to the Agency and welcomed newly appointed Assistant Commissioners, Hugo Pagé,
FAB and Gillian Pranke, ABSB.
The Commissioner agreed with the President, AFS Group’s remark regarding the good
work accomplished together at the beginning and throughout the pandemic. The
Commissioner stated that CRA employees have been incredible in showing resilience
and flexibility during very stressful times along with unreasonable deadlines at times. He
expressed his appreciation for both management and the unions, that were able to come
together and collaborate while recognizing that there was no shortage of potential issues
that could have driven them apart. He added that the pandemic has taken a toll on people
and there have been issues with mental health and people feeling stressed out. He
expressed that a lot has been done to give people the opportunity to recover and
recharge and get a little closer to a normal setting. Although we are now closer to pre-
pandemic normalcy, people still need to adapt to the new journey to hybrid model. There
has been a lot of anxiety associated with the numerous changes at the Agency and CRA
will continue to make changes and probably recalibrate for the next few years. He
recognizes that there is a certain level of frustration regarding change management and
as we move forward, it will be important to focus on communication, keep a positive
attitude and take advantage of the best practices learned prior to the pandemic. Also, the
expectations for the CRA are very high in terms of what the Agency can, and should
deliver. Canadians realized that CRA did a lot of work during the pandemic and there is
now an expectation that we can deliver the goods.
The Bargaining team will exchange proposals at the table on October 19. He expressed
his wish for the parties to come together and work through the issues in reaching an
agreement in an efficient and timely manner.
The Commissioner was pleased to share that the CRA charitable campaign was launched
on September 12, and it is off to a good start as we have already reached 40% of the
Agency’s goal. There is a long way to go but he is confident that employees will come
together and have good results.
He concluded by saying that we should all be proud of everything we have accomplished
together, recognize the good things but also acknowledge that there were periods that
were challenging for both employees and managers. We should celebrate what we have
done so far, but remember that there are more changes to come which will most likely
bring some issues. He underlined that in order to overcome these issues, communication
will be crucial during and between meetings.
1. Collective Bargaining
The President, AFS Group, introduced the topic and invited the Assistant Commissioner
(AC), Human Resources Branch (HRB), to provide an update on Collective Bargaining.
The AC, HRB, indicated that since the last round of negotiations, the Agency has faced
many new challenges and opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the
organization to adapt to new ways of working. As the parties are moving into the next
round of collective bargaining, she emphasized the importance for CRA and AFS to work
collaboratively when exploring enhanced flexibilities in working arrangements for both
Management and employees. Furthermore, this is in alignment with the approach put
forward by the President of the Treasury Board and the amended supplemental mandate
letter. The AC, HRB recognized the strong history of collaboration between the CRA and
the PIPSC-AFS Group and she hopes the parties will be able to work together to identify
ways to modernize the language of the collective agreement to reflect current and future
operational realities. In that vein, this positive relationship between the union and the
CRA could set the stage for productive, effective and timely negotiations. The initial
proposals were exchanged the week preceding this meeting and the teams are set to
begin the negotiations. Positive and constructive relations with both unions continues to
be a priority for the CRA. The AC, HRB emphasized on the importance of good, stable
and productive labour-management relations, which can and should form a cornerstone
of good human resources management in the public service. The AC, HRB concluded by
saying that in order to achieve a quick settlement, the bargaining team can count on her
full support during the negotiations.
The President, AFS Group, expressed that the union is looking forward to beginning
negotiations and to discuss their opening demands with the Employer. Given the difficult
economic conditions, fair pay increases have been identified as the AFS Group’s top
priority to ensure competitive compensation for the recruitment and retention of
professionals. Amongst other priorities, he noted that telework and flexible work
arrangements introduced during the pandemic will need to be protected under the
collective agreement and made available to all AFS members. He added that in this new
hybrid environment where a large number of employees are working virtually, it is
important for the union to be able to interact with its members. The President, AFS
Group, suggested that management and labour relations in the regions be reminded
about statutory freeze provisions during collective bargaining to ensure unfair labour
board complaints are avoided. The AFS group is eager to begin negotiations and reach a
fair collective agreement for all professional employees at the Agency.
2. Journey to hybrid
The President, AFS Group, requested a discussion on the journey to hybrid initiative. In
addition to the general update, the union sought clarifications on how e-Concierge will
record the presence of building emergency officers, health and safety committee
members, and first aiders and how onsite employees can contact them when needed.
The Director General (DG), Journey to Hybrid, thanked the President, AFS Group, for
participating in the Journey to hybrid monthly meetings and sharing AFS members’
comments and questions. She indicated that the health and safety of Agency employees
remains a top priority and their physical and mental well-being remain key considerations
for this initiative. As such, the application of the National Worksite Protocol and Building
Re-entry Procedures help the Agency protect its employees who must report on-site. She
stated that unions have been integrally involved in reviewing and sharing feedback on the
protocols to preserve health and safety of all employees on site.
The DG, Journey to Hybrid, indicated that the introduction of Phase 1 allows for increased
on-site presence for business needs. This includes: limited in-person collaborative
meetings, some program-specific field work, and improved work arrangement efficiencies.
In preparation for the launch of Phase 2, a survey will be sent to a randomly selected
sample of employees who have accessed a worksite since moving to the Preliminary
phase on July 18, 2022. The data will help gather feedback and lessons learned from
user experiences. The survey data will be used to better prepare for the launch of Phase
2. Nevertheless, returning to a pandemic phase remains a possibility if the variants or
another resurgence of COVID-19 drive Public Health Agency of Canada to reinstate
Given the broad considerations and horizontal attention required, the Journey to Hybrid
(JTH) Program, began reporting to the Deputy Commissioner on September 19, 2022.
The President, AFS Group, clarified their concern is related to issues locating emergency
building contacts, first aiders and other first respondents. This is an ongoing issue and a
real concern for AFS members.
The DG, Journey to Hybrid advised that the E-Concierge Team is working to identify
where people can book certain places in the unassigned seating environment as they
come to the workplaces. The team is exploring options for the integration of features in
the reservation system that will facilitate the identification of certain key members, such
as first responders. The E-Concierge team will be invited to attend a future monthly
Journey to hybrid meeting with AFS to explain how E-Concierge’s new features will work
and how the emergency building contacts, first aiders and others may be identified at a
In addition to the monthly meetings, the President, AFS Group requested consultations at
the local level as it is anticipated that future real property issues with affect AFS members
in the future. The Commissioner indicated that pandemic recovery resumption plans had
to be recalibrated as we moved forward but it went well and both parties communicated in
an efficient way. It was acknowledged that there was a certain level of uncertainty and
anxiety for people and for this reason, the Agency has been testing what might work, or
what might not. The move to phase 2 will be important for CRA. Communication with
employees and giving managers the support they need during the journey will be crucial.
At this time, there is a mix of people who enjoy remote working and some who are happy
to come back to the office. The Commissioner indicated that we will need to find a
balance in taking advantage of flexibilities and ensuring we don’t lose ourselves as an
institution. There will undoubtedly be stumbles along the way and this is why it will be
important to work together and encourage experimentation to determine and assess what
will work out best for employees and Canadians we provide services to. He concluded by
stating that we need to keep in mind that there will be changes and uncertainty in the
3. Annual Resource Alignment Process (ARAP)
The President, AFS Group, invited the Assistant Commissioner (AC), Finances and
administration Branch (FAB) to provide his update on the Annual Resource Alignment
The AC, FAB, explained that the ARAP is an internal exercise that began in 2017, which
consists in examining the Agency’s programs and services to ensure they are aligned with
strategic priorities and direction, and are being delivered in the most effective manner.
The ARAP is a two-step process, where branches in conjunction with their regional and
human resources counterparts must answer two questions:
Step 1 — Investments: If you had more budget, what would you do? What would be your
Step 2 — Savings: If you had less budget, what would you do? What would you stop/do
Step 1 of the 2022 ARAP was launched in May 2022. Step 2 was set to launch in October
2022 to generate the savings required to address the investment opportunities identified
and approved in Step 1. In line with what has been done in previous years, the Agency’s
approach would be to minimize the impact on employees.
The AC, FAB, stated that as done for previous ARAP’s exercises, the Agency’s
governance will analyze and approve the final package for implementation. He stressed
that unions will continue to be briefed as the process progresses and prior to final results
being communicated, which is anticipated before the end of March 2023.
This exercise is important for the well-being of the Agency as it increases its ability to be
more proactive in reviewing and reacting to the environment it faces. For employees and
management, it is an opportunity to identify new and innovative ideas to improve the
services we provide to Canadians.
In addition to ARAP 2022, the Agency will also need to address the requirements of the
strategic policy review as announced in Budget 2022. This review is designed to ensure
that all government programs are delivering results through prudent and responsible
fiscal management. The impact on individual departments, including the Agency, has not
yet been identified. Specific details once known will likely be considered Cabinet
confidence, as was the case with previous government reviews, and therefore subject to
strict security measures. The Agency remains committed to keeping the Unions informed
4. Pay equity
The President, AFS Group, requested a progress update of the implementation of the Pay
Equity Act at the Agency. More specifically, AFS wanted clarification regarding steps
taken to date, projected timelines and the Agency’s plans to implement pay equity.
The AC, HRB, began by saying that following the meeting between management and
PIPSC-AFS held on March 29, 2022, planning sessions for the Pay Equity Committee
were organized and started on April 28, 2022. Recurrent working sessions have been
held since then, but she explained that these initial sessions allowed the Committee to lay
the foundation and address housekeeping items prior to beginning any work. She outlined
that methodologies have been tested to identify job classes for each job at the CRA. She
then noted that the Core Public Administration will be using classification groups and
levels to identify job classes, but for the CRA, this is a decision that the committee will
need to make. Conflicting information was recently found between a publication of the
Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and the language of the Pay Equity Act
and had to be verified to avoid working in the wrong direction.
The AC, HRB, listed the steps taken to date and elaborated on the next steps for the Pay
Equity Committee and projected timelines.
Of note, payments for job classes where discrepancies exist will be identified but
payments will not be retroactive. She concluded by recognizing the important role of the
union in this process and highlighted that collaboration is crucial for the success of the
The President, AFS Group, said he was pleased that the committee commenced its work
although there is some skepticism about CRA’s ability to meet timelines as several
meetings have been cancelled and very little work has been completed in the year since
the initial announcement.
5. Classification reform
The President, AFS Group, requested an update regarding the implementation of the
classification reform and indicated that AFS members want to know when their
classifications will be updated. In addition to the general update, the union wanted to
know what has been done to date and what are the future planned steps.
The AC, HRB, began by saying that the new work descriptions for the Nursing Group
(NU) that had previously been shared with AFS have been finalized and will be
implemented. She was also pleased to share that with the introduction of the NU-EMA
classification, employees assigned to the medical adjudication workload are now properly
recognized and remunerated for their expertise and responsibilities. The unions’
assistance and contributions in this matter has been appreciated.
Classification reform activities have just begun and kicked off with the reform of the MG
Group. Important issues regarding pay equity for the MG Group have been identified and
require immediate attention; to ensure CRA complies with the Pay Equity Act, identified
changes must be implemented by August 31, 2024. Since classification activities must
always flow from the top down, issues with the management group classification must be
resolved first as the decisions made to our management group will impact the design of
The AC, HRB indicated that during the CMC meeting of September 28, 2022, there was a
discussion on the Middle Management (MM) proposal that was presented to AFS last
spring. There are a few new members around the table but the discussion with key
players continues and an update will be provided as soon as the initiative is approved.
Further to this, CRA will look at presenting its proposal for the MM Group to the Federal
Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board (FPSLREB) in the near future.
CRA is still committed to begin the work on AFS classification standards once support on
MG Modernization is received as the goal is to modernize more groups once supervisory
levels have been stabilized.
The President, AFS Group thanked the AC, HRB for her update and asked if she could
confirm if work descriptions for the NU-EMA classification have been implemented
already. The NCR-IT Region AFS Representative enquired if CRA had a timeline to
comply with the Canadian Human Right Act (CHRA) in addition to the planned timeline to
comply with the Pay Equity Act.
Addressing the above union concerns, the AC, HRB, clarified that work descriptions have
not yet been implemented as they will have to be communicated to the FPSLREB first. A
timeline to comply with the CHRA has yet to be established but this information will be
provided after the AC, HRB obtains clarifications on that matter.
The President, AFS Group, acknowledged the support of CRA’s classification team in
drafting the joint application to the FPSLREB for the creation of the NU-EMA Group. He
added that he was looking forward to ongoing consultations on the matter of establishing
classification standards for the other AFS classification groups as it’s been agreed that
they are also to be reviewed and updated. He emphasized that in addition to being
outdated, most of these AFS classification standards are not compliant with the four
required elements of the Canadian Human Rights Act, namely Skill, Effort, Responsibility
and Work Conditions.
Commitment: HRB to obtain clarifications regarding timeline for CRA to comply with the
CHRA and share the information with AFS.
6. 2022 Federal Budget and Strategic policy review
The President, AFS Group, requested information on the impacts of several important tax
measures announced in the 2022 federal budget. More specifically, the union wanted to
know what the impact of these announcements are for the AFS members at the program
level, and how will the funding be allocated between programs.
The AC, FAB, explained that because of the nature of the budget proposal and the fact
that it is classified as Cabinet confidence, specific details can not be shared. However, he
offered to explain the process for determining CRA costs estimates for Budget proposals
and TBS submissions. He added that the CRA has a long-standing cost estimating
methodology and has been using a robust model for numerous years now which has
provided accurate forecast information.
The CRA’s approach to costing starts by ensuring managers focus their attention on
determining the appropriate number of Full-Time Employees (FTE) required to do the
work in question, for their respective areas. The next step is for the Manager to estimate
other non-salary costs, for example training, travel, and all other expenses to determine
the full cost. These amounts are then entered into a standard template and standard rates
are automatically added. This ensures that CRA costing always reflects the Agency’s total
incremental cost and we are not internally subsiding costs for any initiative.
These standard rates are reviewed and updated annually to ensure relevance of the
costing process. Due to the size of the CRA and because there are many programs
interconnected, this often is managed through a broad costing exercise, with one branch
coordinating the exercise and many other branches contributing cost estimates for
consolidation. When estimates need to be shared externally, these amounts, and their
supporting documentation, are subject to a rigorous review and requires Chief Financial
Officer attestation as well.
The AC, FAB, proceeded to answer questions submitted by AFS before the meeting. The
first question reads as follow: Does CRA have a formula for allocating FTE for support
functions? He responded that there was a formula, and explained that there are two
different areas to consider:
1) Support internal to the programs – this consists of managerial,
administrative, quality review, and other branch-specific support provided to support
employees directly engaged in the work in question. Branches determine these costs and
the Finance and Administration Branch reviews the reasonability of the costing and
ensures that amounts are included to represent the total incremental cost to the CRA.
2) Support from the internal services branches – Based on an annually
updated, long standing process, the FAB determines the appropriate amount of Internal
service that are required in support of the costed initiative. This analysis takes into
consideration typical incremental costs associated with the addition of new FTEs as well
as funding for the ongoing delivery of internal services.
The union’s second question pertained to the amount of funds paid to Public Works (Real
Property) by the Agency representing space for each FTE. They also wanted to know if
the funding would cover the ongoing cost for each FTE.
The AC, FAB, responded that as part of every TBS submission, Public Services and
Procurement Canada — PSPC receives an amount equal to 13% (in all years) of the
estimated salary costs to cover rent and the portion of fit-up and maintenance that is
covered by PSPC. This rate is provided by central agencies and has not changed for
some time but he suspects this may change in the future given the new way of working.
He added that the CRA also adds costs to cover the workplace fit-up and maintenance
work paid for by the CRA as most real property projects are funded jointly by PSPC and
The third and last question was related to the amount of funds for Equipment. AFS wanted
to know how much the CRA allocates for each new employee and is this cost included in
the additional funding received or does it come out of the existing Base Funding? The
AC, FAB, confirmed that the cost is included in the additional funding the Agency received
but he clarified that the formula is revisited every year. For every FTE included in a TBS
submission, the CRA adds a one-time cost of roughly $4570 per FTE for office furniture
and equipment, computer/laptop and printers. A cost of about approximately $600 per
FTE is also included for all subsequent years for the replacement and/or maintenance of
The AC, FAB concluded by saying that when the TBS submission is approved, these
amounts will be allocated to the identified areas of the Agency responsible for incurring
the expenditures to ensure each program receive their respective share of the funding.
The AC, Compliance and Programs Branch (CPB) provided an update of two CPB audit
programs that will be expending as a result of the announcement.
Expanding the Non-resident Audit Program to address complex non-compliance in
the non-resident taxpayer population
The Non-Resident Audit Program (NRAP) expansion is designed to enhance the
program’s capability to identify and address complex non-resident audit issues while also
allowing for an improved and centralized workload development function to identify and
manage more complex compliance concerns in this space. In this regard, the addition of
more auditors in the field as well as additional headquarters personnel will support the
expansion and development of the program.
To ensure a smooth implementation, she indicated that the Compliance Programs Branch
remains flexible, agile and open to adopting a collaborative approach. Work is currently
underway with the regions to adjust resource allocations for the current year and
developing a plan for next year to ensure staffing plans can be built for the addition of new
teams. Support teams are currently built in HQ to enhance Non-Resident Audit training
and to facilitate the development of Audit Quality Review (AQR), workload development
and more complex risk assessment. This work in Headquarters will be fully developed by
2023-24. She emphasized that there won’t be any Work Force Adjustment (WFA)
implications as a result of this expansion. Only positive news.
In regards to a new funding CRA received for expanding the number of audits of the
largest medium-sized economic entities and establishing team audit approaches.
• New analysis highlighted that thousands of medium-sized economic entities pay
little or no tax.
• An economic entity is a group of corporate, individual, and trust taxpayers,
including partnerships, that are controlled by the same person or group of related
persons. The group is structured such that financial and taxation decisions are
made as one tax system. Every taxpayer and partnership can only belong to one
• To expand compliance coverage in the largest medium-sized economic entity
population, commencing in this fiscal year, we have reorganized our existing SME
audit resources to follow a team audit approach to review these economic entities.
For this fiscal year, majority of the audit units have been set up. It is anticipated that
staffing will be completed by October 2022. Files have been assigned to the established
units and work is to commence shortly.
It is believed that there are many benefits associated to using a team audit approach, such
as: Knowledge sharing, increased collaboration and consultation, increase technical
capacity, improved efficiency and effectiveness, SME career path.
In addition to those advantages, she highlighted that the approach will also broaden our
existing audit practices and fundamentally change the way we do audits which will require
She ended by saying that these audit units are and will be allocated to TSOs based on
geographical location and compliance risks to address the compliance gaps within the
medium-sized economic entities.
The NCR-IT AFS Representative asked the AC, FAB about the formula referenced during
his presentation, noting that the formula itself was not shared. He commented that AFS is
interested in knowing how much will go for each classification, and requested a
breakdown of the number of positions created for each job level. With respect to the
percentage paid to PSPC every year, he noted that there was no mention of the amount
paid to Shared Services. He further enquired about the actual number of AFS jobs
created following an additional funding announcement and raised concerns about
contracting out as this is also tied to PIPSC demands/ concerns. He stressed the fact that
contracting out is a government-wide problem for PIPSC. To this end, having a clear
understanding of the amount allocated for salary can help understanding what is outside
the AC, FAB’s control in terms of budget.
The AC, FAB, replied that with regards to Shared Services Canada, the percentage
systemically applied for SSC would be approximately 4%. In terms of salary, it is
important to remember that the money allocated to the Agency is seen through main
estimates. Through the estimate process, there is an approximation of the amount of
FTEs but it gets trickier when trying to have specific information for a particular
classification level. Forecasting is an approximation and things have to be reassessed as
more programs are developed and ready for implementation. He added that it is possible
to give and approximate number of FTEs, however, discussions would have to take place
with each of the branches in order to the get the detailed information AFS is looking for.
7. Distribution of union information
The President, AFS Group, requested a discussion regarding concerns they have with the
Employer limiting access to various methods of sharing information with their members.
They also wanted to discuss collaboration with the Employer to allow AFS to contact
members and share non-contentious information with them.
The President, AFS Group, underlined that the Employer has violated their collective
agreement when access to sharing union information on InfoZone, the Ontario Region
Communication HUB, or any other electronic bulletin board was denied. In doing so, the
Employer breached clause 27.01 of the AFS Collective Agreement, which reads as
27.01 Reasonable space on bulletin boards including electronic bulletin boards
where available, in convenient locations will be made available to the Institute for
the posting of official Institute notices. The Institute shall endeavour to avoid
requests for posting of notices that the Employer, acting reasonably, could
consider adverse to its interests or to the interests of any of its representatives.
Posting of notices or other materials shall require the prior approval of the
Employer, except notices of meetings of their members and elections, the names
of Institute representatives, and social and recreational events. Such approval
shall not be unreasonably withheld.
While a policy grievance has been filed on this matter, the President, AFS Group indicated
that it would be the union’s preference to resolve this concern through discussions with
The AC, HRB, indicated that in line with the provisions of the collective agreement, the
employer provides the union with specific information on bargaining unit members and
this, on a quarterly basis. She added that questions pertaining to the use of the
employer’s facilities such as bulletin boards or electronic bulletin boards are covered
under the provisions of the collective agreement. Following notice to bargain, CRA and
AFS are now in a statutory freeze. Nevertheless, she highlighted that under the Federal
Public Sector Labour Relations Act (FPSLRA), parties can agree to changes to conditions
of employment. She invited the President, AFS Group, to contact CRA’s negotiator Marc
Bellavance to discuss this issue with him or during the bargaining process.
The President, AFS Group, responded that he would contact the negotiator and the
Director of the Labour Relations Division regarding this issue. He expressed that in spite
of the negotiations and the statutory freeze, a discussion needs to take place and there
should be a way they could resolve this problem as their strongly feel that their requests
8. Public Service Employee Survey (PSES)
The President, AFS Group, requested an update on the PSES.
The AC, HRB recognized the importance of the survey results and how useful it is to
shape the Agency’s policies and initiatives. She highlighted that 2020 was the final year
the private company Advanis administered the survey. Starting in 2022, the survey will
now be administered by Statistics Canada in partnership with the Office of the Chief
Human Resources Officer at Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS). With this
change, the TBS is also developing a new public service employee engagement approach
that will see the PSES administered every other year. In the interim, TBS and Statistics
Canada will lead complimentary analytical activities, such as sample surveys, focus
groups and discussion panels, to gather data from specific groups and communities on
emerging topics of interest as well as government priorities. For this year, the survey will
run from mid to late November 2022 through January 2023.
The AC, HRB, explained that a two-year approach provides access to meaningful data
and drives transparency within the federal public service as participating departments and
agencies have more time to use their results to develop and inform initiatives for their
workplaces. This approach will also help refine the PSES questionnaire to better capture
the public servants’ perspectives and experiences and to continue to contribute to more
strategic, inclusive and proactive policies.
The 2022 PSES will include many of the same questions as previous surveys but
questions that are considered redundant or irrelevant will be removed. The survey
themes for 2022 focus on the return to the workplace/hybrid work model, diversity and
inclusion, anti-racism and work engagement. Another change in the 2022 survey is the
removal of the option to add supplemental questions. Of note, there may be opportunities
to examine various themes in the interim year engagement methods.
The AC, HRB is confident that with Statistics Canada collaborating with the TBS for the
administration of the PSES, the reliability issue encountered under Advanis for results at
any level below the Agency level, should no longer be a concern. Similar to the 2020
PSES, organizational units for respondents we will be pre-populated but the option for
them to change their unit will be available if they so chose. It should be noted that
Statistics Canada will be able to recode the data based on provisions within the Statistics
Act, in order to ensure the integrity of the organizational level results.
Following the data collection period, the TBS and Statistics Canada will provide results
specific to participating departments, as well as global results for the overall public
service population. This release of the results is expected to be in June 2023.
The Toronto Region, AFS Representative, indicated that he was happy CRA and AFS
were able to come to common ground for this issue and agree that it is better having this
survey administered internally. He raised concerns with contractors’ limitations when
outsourcing the administration of the survey to a private company. He stressed the
importance of having a timely action plan on relevant issues in place. In addition to this,
he highlighted the success rate of approximately 68-69% for previous years, which is
higher than for TBS.
The AC, HRB responded to the Toronto Region, AFS representative stating that his
comment has been noted and she is looking forward to a partnership.
The President, AFS Group, said AFS was pleased that Statistics Canada is again
administering the survey and it shows the good work done by federal public servants.
The President, AFS Group, indicated that he had requested an update on CRA’s review
of staffing and recourse at the Agency. In spite of participating in a staffing recourse
redesign committee, AFS was irritated that no updates or consultations have taken place
in over two years. As such, AFS asked if there were any updates on this committee and
said they would like to restart consultations on the recourse working group.
Amongst their concerns, the routine and arbitrary use of non-advertised staffing at the
Agency and the reliance placed on unsupervised and standardized testing remains one of
the biggest priorities. There is a perception that the integrity of CRA staffing and
employees’ trust towards their Employer are declining as a result of the lack of processes
and transparency. A return to the past practice of holding open advertised staffing
competitions in all but the most exceptional cases is the desired route that AFS would like
to see reinstated.
The President, AFS Group, relied on Article 59 of the CRA Act, which states that:
Following its third full year of operations and periodically after that, the Agency
must have prepared, by a person or body other than the Agency, a director or an
employee of the Agency, an assessment of the recourse that the Agency provides
or administers in its management of human resources. The Agency must publish a
summary of the assessment in its next annual report.
Relying on the above-noted article, the President, AFS Group, highlighted that in its
annual report, the CRA has been filing a statement wherein it was indicated that “the CRA
did not prepare pursuant to section 59 of the Canada Revenue Agency Act an
assessment of the recourse the CRA provides or administers in its management of
human resources.” The union expressed disappointment regarding the CRA’s failure to
follow the legislated requirement for periodic external assessments of recourse. Given the
seriousness of the matter, the President, AFS group, requested an official reply on what
CRA plans to do to remedy this issue. On the brighter side, staffing issues were
discussed at a recent Staffing, Programs and Activities (SPA) meeting. They are looking
forward to discussing concerns such as the creation of new pools even when existing
pools haven’t been exhausted.
The AC, HRB advised that non-advertised staffing has always existed as a staffing
mechanism within the CRA, but it has become more popular following consultations
conducted as part of the Staffing Redesign Project. In light of these consultations, a need
for improved communication and more transparency surrounding the use of non-
advertised staffing was outlined by both employees and managers.
Taking into consideration input provided by representatives from unions, regions and
branches, and in collaboration with Management representatives well and union partners,
the Staffing Redesign team launched a Non-Advertised Staffing Strategy in October
The AC, HRB noted that non-advertised staffing is not meant to replace advertised
staffing as both practices are complimentary. The intent of the non-advertised staffing is
- Add flexibility for managers to recognize talent and work contributions; o
- Enhance open, two-way communication between managers and employees where they can discuss career goals;
- Increase transparency with enhance education, oversight, and monitoring; o
- Facilitate faster appointments, where it makes sense.
In addition, to ensure accountability, fairness and transparency, the delegated authority
for approving non-advertised appointments is higher than for advertised appointments
and recourse must be offered on all non-advertised appointments of 6 months or more. It
is of note that non-advertised staffing is considered as a merit-based initiative as
employees must meet the essential and asset staffing requirements for the position being
In an effort to ensure that non-advertised staffing is being done appropriately, and to
reinforce the importance of accountability and integrity, a monitoring exercise for
nonadvertised actions with an emphasis on non-advertised permanent promotions was
launched in June 2022.
As result of a recent analysis of non-advertised staffing processes, preliminary results are
showing that the average percentage of advertised processes has increased since the
implementation of the Non-Advertised Staffing Strategy in October 2021. Compared to
results from 2018-2019, advertised processes have increased from 61% to 69% in
September 2021. Of note, the majority of appointments made within the CRA continue to
be made from advertised staffing processes (63% for advertised processes versus 37%
for non-advertised processes).
With respects to unsupervised and standardized testing in Staffing, the AC, HRB
indicated that Unsupervised Internet Tests (UITs) provide numerous important benefits,
• Making assessment processes more convenient for candidates;
• Increasing access to a larger pool of candidates including those from remote
• Giving objective and impartial information about candidates to staffing boards for
• Providing results to candidates faster; and
• Making staffing processes faster.
In comparison to other assessment methods, the criteria used to develop standardized
and unsupervised internet tests further enhances the fairness, validity and reliability by
• Tests are piloted with diverse candidates to reduce assessment bias;
• Candidates are accurately assessed for the intended, and specific qualifications
needed for the job;
• Results are consistent, and have fewer rating/scoring errors.
The AC, HRB indicated that standardized tests use a scientific and objective approach to
assess candidate qualifications independently. UITs have gained popularity during the
pandemic and it is expected to continue moving forward given the hybrid return to work
and the ongoing pandemic. Most of the UITs used by the Agency for management
positions have scores that are transferable to other staffing processes using the same
test. Although many of the UITs for non-management positions are customized to assess
specific qualifications needed for a job, the Agency recently introduced 2 UITs with
portable scores to improve the candidate experience for high volume jobs.
Given the always evolving work environment, the Agency will continue to explore other
new and innovative assessment options in the future.
Shawn Gillis, Ontario AFS Representative, asked if any improprieties were noted in
monitoring of non-advertised staffing and repeated question about restarting the recourse
The AC, HRB, noted that she will need to bring the question to the working group and a
response will be provided at a later date.
The Toronto Region, AFS representative, asked for clarity on what work levels
nonadvertised is being used to staff. More specifically, he sought clarifications about the
jobs levels where non-advertised staffing is used to staff positions and specific job
categories such as a higher level with very specific skill sets, entry level, or for
The BC/Yukon AFS Representative, expressed concerns about the large amount of
nonadvertised staffing taking place. Further to this, he enquired about how transparency
will be reflected in non-advertised staffing and raised concerns about merit-based
appointments as no assessment is done for these employees.
The President, AFS Group, requested a meeting on the topic of non-advertised staffing
and the AC, HRB agreed that such a meeting would be arranged and dig a bit deeper to
provide the information required.
Commitment: HRB to arrange a meeting with AFS to discuss issues related to
nonadvertised staffing and recourse.
The President, AFS Group, concluded by thanking everyone for their participation in the
meeting. As discussed during the meeting, he noted that AFS and the CRA will exchange
proposals later during the week for the renewal of the AFS Collective Agreement expiring
on December 21, 2022. He reiterated that the AFS Bargaining Team, stewards and
members are prepared to do what is necessary to secure a fair collective agreement
including real wage increases for AFS professionals. Of note, AFS has been working with
the Employer in making the agreement gender inclusive and the President, AFS Group,
acknowledged the work already done by the Employer and PIPSC staff on this initiative.
In his closing remarks, the Commissioner, reflected on some of the issues that were
discussed during the meeting and new developments to come. The negotiations have
started and it appears that negotiation teams are trying to focus on priorities. Referring to
the journey to hybrid, the discussion will continue for quite some time and it will take
flexibility and openness in trying to find a perfect balance for everyone. On the matter of
classification, the Commissioner would like to see some follow-up to determine if CRA
abides by the CHRA legislation. On the issue of non-advertised staffing processes and
recourse, he stated that no one should wake up thinking that non-advertised staffing is
used on a whim by a manager and encourages discussions between CRA and AFS on
that subject. Finally, he expressed being happy that the PSES will be administered by
Statistics Canada. He thanked all the participants in attendance and said he was looking
forward to the next AFS-NUMCC scheduled for April 27, 2023.
Bob Hamilton, Commissioner
Canada Revenue Agency
Date: February 17, 2023
Doug Mason, President
Audit, Financial and Scientific Group
Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada
Date: March 2, 2023