Worth Looking Into

Catch up on the latest PIPSC news. Read stories of interest to your union group or profession.

The following articles have recently appeared in various media across the country.

8 October 2019

1) Is my sick leave changing if I vote for this tentative deal?
No. The current sick leave system does not change as a result of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP). The current sick leave system remains in force and continues to be part of your collective agreement along with your sick leave bank.

2) If nothing is changing why do we need this Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)?
There are gaps in the current sick leave system, and some employees do not have the income protection they need as a result of chronic illnesses, a previous catastrophic illness or injury, or simply not enough years of service to accumulate a sufficient balance in their sick leave bank to tide them over until they are able to transition onto long-term disability (LTD) or, alternatively, successfully reintegrate back into the workplace. Furthermore, PIPSC believes it to be in the interests of our members to secure certain key features of a new system rather than leaving it to chance in a future round of negotiations. We have established minimum criteria and principles of wellness that any new system must meet. For further information on this please see the following research memo.

3) When will the new program on sick leave come into effect?
PIPSC and the Employer will develop all agreements and documents required to implement the new Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP) within one year. The EWSP language will then be provided to individual PIPSC bargaining groups for ratification and inclusion in their collective agreements. The EWSP language that is developed will also establish the implementation date for the new system.

4) Will this new program be the same for all PIPSC groups?
Yes. The agreement reached on the Employee Wellness Support Program will be the same for each group and cannot be altered by any one group at the bargaining table.

5) What will happen to my existing sick leave banks?
After ratification of this agreement, your sick leave bank remains in place. Should PIPSC and Treasury Board reach an agreement on the EWSP, you will no longer accumulate sick leave days as of the implementation date. Employees with more than 26 weeks in their sick leave bank when the EWSP becomes effective will be entitled to carry over that excess, which may be used following the 26-week period of EWSP, prior to transitioning onto LTD.

6) What's the meaning of “Full 26 weeks of 100% income replacement”?
It means that you will receive your full pay for the duration of the EWSP.

7) What's the meaning of “Travel time for diagnosis and treatment”?
This language refers to a need to develop rules in the EWSP to address travel time for diagnosis and treatment. In some cases, people may need to travel significant distances to access a medical professional or specialist. The EWSP needs to address this issue as it was identified by the unions as a significant gap in the current system.

8) Who will be the administrator of the new program?
The Employee Wellness and Support Program (EWSP) will be administered by the Employer.

9) Will the new program be outside of the collective agreement?
No, the Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP) will reside in the collective agreement.

10) How is moving from 15 days to 9 days of sick leave an improvement?
The EWSP provides protection for 26 weeks at full salary for each unrelated illness or injury, or reoccurrences of the same illness or injury that occurs more than 30 days after the employee has returned to work. The EWSP kicks in for any illness or injury of more than 3 days duration, with no unpaid waiting period. Practically speaking, an employee’s annual sick leave entitlement is “reinstated” once the EWSP kicks in.

This is probably best illustrated through some examples.

Example 1: Jean is 35 years old with 5 years of service in the federal public service and has accumulated 35 days in sick leave credits. Jean had a serious knee injury while skiing and had to stay home for 6 months.

Under Current Sick Leave System – Jean will have to use the 35 days in his sick leave bank and wait 30 days without pay to satisfy the 65-day waiting period before being eligible for LTD. Once approved by Sun Life, he will receive 70% of his pre-disability earnings.

Under the EWSP – Jean will be paid at 100% of his pre-disability earnings for the full duration of the 6 months that he requires to recover from his injury.

Example 2: Marie is 50 years old with 25 years of service. She has multiple sclerosis and only 10 days left in her bank.

Under Current Sick Leave System – Marie will have to use the 10 days in her sick leave bank and wait 55 days without pay to satisfy the 65-day waiting period before being eligible for LTD. Once approved by Sun Life, she will receive 70% of her pre-disability earnings.

Under the EWSP – Marie will be paid at 100% of her pre-disability earnings for up to 26 weeks and then will be eligible for LTD provided by Sun Life and receive 70% of her pre-disability earnings.

Example 3: Peter is 48 years old with 200 days in his sick leave bank. He received a lung cancer diagnosis and was on leave for 9 months. Peter came back to work for 3 months and was re-diagnosed with a recurrent lung cancer.

Under Current Sick Leave System – For Peter’s first diagnosis, he will have to exhaust his bank before he is eligible for Sun Life LTD at the rate of 70% of his pre-disability earnings. Since the recurrent illness occurred within 12 months of returning to work, and it is for the same illness, Peter will not have to satisfy another waiting period, except that Peter must first use any sick leave days that he has accumulated since returning to work before being eligible for LTD.

Under the EWSP – Peter’s first and recurring diagnosis will be protected the same way. For each, he will be paid at 100% for 26 weeks and then be eligible for the long-term disability plan provided by Sun Life and receive 70% of his pre-disability earnings.

3 October 2019


The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada and the Treasury Board have reached a tentative deal on a Memorandum of Agreement to support employee wellness.

When this round of negotiations began in 2014, the employer tabled proposals to eliminate the existing sick leave system and replace it with a short-term disability program. PIPSC, along with other federal public service unions, firmly stated that we would only negotiate improvements to the current system.

The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP) is a significant improvement over the current system. It is a system designed to improve employee wellness and the safe and successful reintegration of employees into the workplace following a prolonged absence due to illnesses or injury.

What are the weaknesses of the current system?

To make improvements to the current plan, we needed to clearly understand areas where the system could be improved. An analysis of the usage of sick leave and the distribution of sick leave banks was done for PIPSC’s Treasury Board groups. It was found that the needs of many of our members are not being served by the current system, especially for members in certain demographic groups.

PIPSC’s analysis revealed the following:

  • The current system disadvantages women.
    o Female members tend to use about 2.5 more sick-days per year than men resulting in smaller sick leave banks.
    o On average, women’s banks
  • The current system disadvantages Health Care professionals.
    o Members of the Health Services Group (SH) use about 11.5 sick days per year, which is 2.6 days more than the overall average of 9.9 days per year for PIPSC Core public administration (CPA)Treasury Board Groups.
    o 78 percent of the SH group have insufficient sick leave to meet the LTD waiting period (average shortfall of 22-days).
  • The current system disadvantages members under the age of 40.
    o As the banks accumulate from unused sick days over time, it can take very long to accumulate enough sick leave to cover the LTD waiting period.
    o It takes the average member well into their 40s to accumulate banks in excess of 65 days.
    o Members between the ages of 30 and 39 are on average 9 days below the 65-day threshold while members under 30 are 38 days short.
    o Not a single member under 30 has enough sick leave banked to cover the LTD waiting period.
  • Where certain characteristics intersect (under 30, female, health care professional) the gaps are even larger.
    o For instance, the average bank of a female in the SH group (38 days) is 27 days below the average males in the SH group of 65 and a drastic 73 days below the overall average male bank of 111 days.
  • Overall, the current system does not serve the needs for the majority of CPA members.
    o Over half (51%) of PIPSC members employed by the Treasury Board have sick leave banks that are less than 65 days.
  • The current system disadvantages vulnerable members.
    o A member who requires regular sick leave to attend to a chronic or episodic illness has no choice but to draw from their sick leave banks to cover their absence. This situation can quickly become unsustainable as their banks run out.
  • The current system requires you to exhaust your sick leave bank before going on LTD.
    o After returning from just one period of LTD your bank will be empty. If you were to get sick again before accumulating enough sufficient sick leave, you could face an unpaid waiting period.
    o Members retire with large sick leave banks that go unused. On average, members retire with 118 days of unused sick leave in their banks.

How the EWSP would improve on the current system

The EWSP was negotiated to improve on the current plan. A number of key features were included that make the system more adaptable to the diverse needs of our members. The program includes several major improvements over the current plan, including:

  • Members will no longer need to rely on their sick leave banks to cover the waiting period before going on LTD. The program offers a three-day paid qualification period for 26 week short-term disability plan at 100% income replacement. This will be beneficial for over half of the PIPSC Treasury board members who have sick leave banks less than 65 days.
  • Members will need fewer annual sick days. The program includes an additional day of Family-related leave which will allow members to take care of a family member without having to use their own sick leave. This may reduce the current sick leave usage by up to one full day.
  • Members can still use annual sick days when needed. The program includes nine fully-paid sick days per year with a three-day carryover of unused days.
  • 100% salary replacement for 13 more weeks: The LTD benefits provided by Sun Life are at the rate of 70% of pre-disability earnings. Under the new system, our members will be eligible for 100% income replacement for additional 13 weeks which would benefit 75% of CPA PIPSC members
  • Members with chronic or episodic illnesses will have full income protection under the new plan, since the waiting period will be waived for employees having a diagnosed chronic illness. Currently, many members with chronic illnesses are required to use vacation or other leave days (paid or unpaid) to cover off absences from the workplace.
  • Members will not have to use sick leave to cover travel time for diagnosis and treatment of an illness.
  • Members on the EWSP will be considered to be on leave with pay and therefore, will continue to accrue vacation and pensionable service.
  • Members will not automatically lose their sick leave banks. Existing sick leave banks in excess of 26 weeks can be used prior to going on LTD.
  • This program comes at no extra cost to members. It has been agreed that the plan will be fully funded by the employer.

The EWSP is a big improvement over the current system. The program will address the current system’s shortcomings while ensuring that PIPSC members have a sick leave system that provides full income protection when our members are away from the workplace due to illness or injury.

15 August 2019

The PIPSC EWSP technical and steering committees met several times with Treasury Board in late 2018 and early 2019 to finalize the proposed employee wellness support program that would replace our current sick leave regime.

Significant progress has been made in developing the EWSP plan document and we are working now to secure provisions agreed to by the parties.

When a final agreement is reached, we anticipate that proposed contract wording will be written over the summer followed by ratification information sessions in late fall.

Ratification votes will be held separate from other collective bargaining ratification votes and the results will be separated by group.

Your EWSP Advisory Team

12 July 2019

The PIPSC EWSP Advisory team has moved to a more intensive meeting schedule, with meetings now occurring every three weeks to coincide with, and provide support to the Technical Committee, that is meeting with Treasury Board to develop the proposed new wellness regime.

The Advisory Team is providing input to the Technical Committee on key elements of the plan, and Plan Design, in order to ensure all matters identified in the MOA are addressed by the end of the year. With this deadline quickly closing in, your representatives are concentrating on this advisory role. Once the currently scheduled in-person presentations are complete, an online presentation will be made available for those who have been unable to attend an in-person session.

Although significant progress is being made in crafting the new wellness regime, the specific content can only be shared with your delegates involved in the discussion at this point, as any other bargaining discussion. Current topics under discussion include chronic and episodic illnesses, internal case management and return to work services, definitions, and eligibility among other topics from the MOA."


Vance Coulas, Q. Arb.

Employment Relations Officer – National Capital Region


23 June 2019

Developing the Program and Reaching out to Members - Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP) Update #3

The PIPSC EWSP Advisory Team has been meeting since last August, providing advice and guidance for the Technical Committee that is working with Treasury Board to develop the proposed new wellness regime.  The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed between PIPSC and Treasury Board in late 2016 sets out the key EWSP features and the process for developing the program.

We have developed the EWSP Vision and Guiding Principles and are working on program design features including flowcharts and definitions. To ensure that we have the best information to develop the EWSP, we’ve received presentations on case management and other topics from a number of organizations.  Our target date for completion is September 2018 but this can be extended by mutual agreement with Treasury Board.

While all of this work has been going on, we’ve received feedback from members saying that they need more information about the EWSP MOA and how it will impact our upcoming negotiations. To ensure that our members have factual and accurate information, our EWSP Advisory Team are now delivering, upon request, presentations about the current status of EWSP to subgroups and branches.

14 May 2019

The PIPSC Advisory Team continues to play a key role in developing and providing specific direction to the Technical Committee, as well as approving their work on a monthly basis. Since November, the Advisory Team has been mapping the processes, from the initial leave requests through to either a return to work, or transition to Long Term Disability. The Advisory Team will continue with this thorough approach over the next few months to make sure the vision and guiding principles are embodied in the EWSP.

The Steering Committee, responsible for developing the Employee Wellness and Support Program (EWSP), met on Thursday February 1, 2018 to review and approve the Technical Committee’s work to date. Under the guidance of the PIPSC Advisory Team, the Technical Committee developed the vision and guiding Principles for the EWSP. This program, that addresses individual employee needs and circumstances, will provide prompt and ongoing support to employees on leave for medical reasons, and facilitate a sage and successful reintegration into the workplace.

September 2018 is the current target date for completion. No changes will be made to the current sick leave plan without ratification by the members of each group for their respective group.

For more information, please click on the following link:


13 February 2019

In support of the Memorandum of Agreement on the Employee Wellness Support Program (EWSP), the Professional Institute of the Public Service has established this committee to direct the negotiations of a new EWSP.


  • Adopt its own Terms of reference.
  • Formulate, direct and approve the work for the PIPSC Technical Committee.
  • Receive and review regular reports on the state of the discussion with TBS after every meeting.
  • Provide input and recommendations to the PIPSC members of the Technical Committee to reflect the needs of the members.
  • Advise PIPSC members of the Technical Committee on approval of the outputs of the Technical Committee.
  • Inform the PIPSC members on the Steering Committee of the Advisory Team agreement of a tentative agreement.


  • Adrienne Turnbull, RE;
  • Ben Lootsma, (substitute: Jennifer Campbell) NUREG;
  • Doug Mason,  (substitute: Chris Roach) AFS;
  • Eva Henshaw, (substitute: Gordon Bulmer) CS;
  • Frederick Jamieson, CFIA;
  • Jennifer Carr (Substitute: Dale Hudson), NR ;
  • Lynn Ohlson, (Substitute: Colin Muise)  SH;
  • Ray Paquette (substitute: Peter Gabriel), AV;
  • Waheed Khan, SP;
  • Sean O’Reily, VP;
  • Brigitte Jolin, AA Negotiations, Pension and Benefits;
  • Dejan Toncic, Pension and Benefits
  • Cathrine Wright, Research
  • Richard Beaulé, National Labour Relations
  • Vance Coulas, ERO.


  • Members of the Advisory Team can attend by electronic means.
  • 7 of the 9 members, 5 of 7 core (CPA and AFS) and 1 of 2 separate employers.
  • A second group representative can attend meetings as needed.

Meeting norms

  • Opening and closing time; Meetings starting time will be in alternate in between 8:30 or 9:00 and will end 8 hours later.
  • Chair / facilitator – PIPSC staff members will act as Chair.
  • Speakers list will be the way to communicate with preference given to those who have not had a turn to speak on the topic at hand.

Decision making

  • Consensus


  • PIPSC staff will take the minutes and distributed within a week of the meeting.
  • Capture the decisions and follow up items with assignment and time lines.

Calendar of meetings

  • Meeting every 4 weeks.


  • With  the members: updated news letter
  • With the group’s Executive or the Bargaining Team: Advisory Team minutes
  • With the SBC: Reports

Communication / information

  • Email
  • Docushare
  • Plan regular communication to members.

Duties of the member seating on the Technical Committee meetings

  • Represent and report to the Advisory Team members.
  • Minimum of 2 of the 3 mandated members are required to attend the Technical Committee meetings.

Support documentation:

  • Steering Committee Agenda and minutes
  • Technical Committee Agenda and minutes
  • Any document shared by Treasury Board
  • Any professional analysis related EWSP that have been requested by PIPSC
  • Any document related to the EWSP Committee

External expertise support:

  • Subject Matter Expert can be utilize as required.

Appendix A (from the document presented at April SBC)

PIPSC Advisory Team and Technical Committee Working Together

  • The PIPSC Technical Committee will provide written briefings to the Advisory Team after each meeting or series of meeting with the employer updating them on what was discussed, positions taken and agreed items/language (in principle).
  • The PIPSC Technical Committee will hold conference calls and meetings with the Advisory Team to collect feedback, share information and receive guidance from the Advisory Team.
  • The 3 members who are a PIPSC member on the Technical Committee will be responsible for facilitating these meetings in coordination with the PIPSC Negotiations Division.

Strategic Bargaining Committee

The PIPSC Technical Committee will provide the tentative EWSP language and program design to SBC representatives who will take the text to the respective group bargaining team for ratification and inclusion in their collective agreement.

5 December 2017

"Power Play CTV - Interview with union leader a/ IBM pay system in Queensland" filmed on December 4, 2017

24 November 2017

More reaction on the Phoenix system from Public Services and Procurement Canada Minister Carla Qualtrough and Debi Daviau posted on CPAC on November 21, 2017

24 November 2017

"Ottawa turns to U.S. tech giants too often: internal memo" published on CBC.ca on November 24, 2017"

16 November 2017

"CTV Power Play with Don Martin - Time to throw out Phoenix? Interview with Debi Daviau on November 14, 2017"

16 November 2017

"‘Enough is enough’: Union wants Phoenix pay system scrapped" published in the Globe and Mail on November 14, 2017

31 October 2017

"Reducing nurses at Deer Lodge ‘dangerous’: union" published in the Winnipeg Sun on October 30, 2017

13 September 2017

"Huge Health Canada branch could be moved to new ministry, unions blindsided" published in the Hill Times on September 13, 2017

19 July 2017

"Shared Services Canada to begin talks on allowing federal departments to ‘opt out’ from centralized IT service" posted in the Hill Times on July 19, 2017

17 July 2017

"When the public service is outsourced, Canadians suffer" published in the Globe and Mail on July 14, 2017

While the current government has been right to criticize the last one for laying off hundreds of compensation staff before it rolled out Phoenix, it’s the decisions around outsourcing such projects in the first place that demand a rethink.