From the President and Vice President
It has been close to eighteen months since the Pandemic, our personal and work lives have gone through so many changes. We have faced many challenges, working from home while caring for the aged, the young, homeschooling, and many other surfaced stresses faced by our members. We got through it, light at the end of the tunnel. Canadians on the rise for vaccinations, restrictions loosening, we are now able to hug our loved ones, go on a shopping spree or maybe just have a walk in the park with friends. We 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!
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 would like to thank Sarb Bains, our new committee member of the Newsletter, for her contributions. This newsletter includes articles on the National President’s messages to members, AFS President’s message re: Covid codes, Lunch and Learn, and EAP. The newsletter concludes with AFS contact information.
Lunch and Learn, by Satie Narain-Simon
On July 7th, 2021, Renee Monizee, Chair of Lunch and Learn, launched our first virtual event. We thank Renee for all the time, effort and hard work needed to put together this event. Our National President for PIPSC, Debi Daviau, was the honored guest.
The following are some of the highlights:
- founded in 1920, a bargaining agent since 1967
- Represents forty-seven professional groups
- 60,000 members
Top five things PIPSC do for our members:
- Negotiate salaries and working conditions
- Workplace representation
- Legal defense
- Government Relations
- Mobilization and Communications
Next Generation Pay System:
- Government committed to working with our members re design and build a pay system that works, Next Gen
Equity, Diversity and Inclusiveness:
The Board of Directors has established six new Equity caucuses – Black, Indigenous, (Dis)Ability, Workers of Colour, LGBTQ2S+ and Women – under the Human Rights and Diversity Committee
Final Pheonix settlement:
- $1,000 settlement to all members in the Fall of 2021
Summary of the National PIPSC President's Messages to Members – Report 2021, by Satie Narain-Simon
The National President's report released various messages to its members during the year. Below are a few highlights that may interest local members:
Eliminating barriers for equity-seeking groups in the federal public service
On May 13, 2021, PIPSC President Debi Daviau appeared before the Senate Committee on Social Affairs (SOCI) to provide our feedback on how changes to certain provisions of Bill C-30, the Budget Implementation Act, 2021, may help eliminate the barriers that affect equity-seeking groups in the federal public service.
The Institute participated in a National Joint Council Employment Equity Committee consultation, the following concerns highlighted:
- lack of confidence in federal staffing processes
- the delegation of staffing authority to local managers has played a key role in creating the barriers to equity, diversity and inclusion our members encounter today
- the system pits employees against employees
- our members are frustrated about how positions are staffed and how promotions are handed out
- the “right fit” is often used to exclude better qualified candidates
- acting appointments are made and extended without any rationale through non-advertised processes
Assessing the government’s response to the pandemic’s impact on our members
On May 10, 2021, PIPSC President Debi Daviau appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (OGGO) to discuss the government’s handling of the pandemic’s impact on its employees.
In general terms, PIPSC is reasonably satisfied with how the government has handled the crisis’ impact on its employees. However, there have been issues with individual departments or even local managers misinterpreting or simply ignoring Treasury Board directives, as well as inconsistencies in implementing safety protocols and around working from home.
The Institute indicated that the existing collective agreements need to be modified or tweaked to ensure that public service managers have the ability to be flexible with employees while still respecting our contracts. Leave with pay (Code 699), duty to accommodate and hours of work are examples of issues that need to be reviewed in light of the pandemic.
At this stage main concerns revolve around adapting to the new work reality and about giving employees the choice to work at home or in an office, whether a satellite location or their regular workplace.
It is critical for the Treasury Board and individual departments and agencies to continue to consult and work closely with unions to ensure that all these points are being addressed.
The following comments from our AFS President, Doug Mason re Covid code - :
While the AFS Group is pleased that the Agency may provide paid time off for employees to attend appointments to receive the vaccine we are disappointed that they will not also authorize the use of COVID Illness – code 6991 for any vaccine side effects preventing an employee from doing their duties. Members are being told in this case to use their sick leave.
The rationale provided is that the 699x COVID-19 codes were created to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Instead, those experiencing side effects are to use sick leave. Provided that the vaccines are to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 we are of the opinion that side effects from the vaccine preventing someone from performing their duties is a valid use of 6991 leave. For those who may experience side effects preventing them to go to work request the 6991 leave. If denied, please contact a steward or PIPSC Employment Relations Officer for next steps.
699x Leave during COVID-19
The Agency has added code 6995 COVID-19 High Risk to replace the use of code 6990. The 6995 code is to be used “when the employee is unable to work because a family member that they live with is at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.” Treasury Board recently made a change to the directive on the use of 699 leave (6990-6994 leave for the CRA). This directive which took effect on November 9, 2020 states that “this leave should be granted on a case-by-case basis, and only after remote or alternate work, or flexible work hours have been considered, and generally only after other relevant paid leave has first been used by the employee.”
At the forefront of the fight against tax evasion
On May 6, 2021, PIPSC President Debi Daviau and Economist Ryan Campbell testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) about the Canada Revenue’s Agency’s (CRA) efforts to fight tax evasion.
The rules must apply to everyone, but unfortunately many wealthy individuals and corporations use their superior resources to look for a shelter or haven where the tax rules don’t apply. While these privileged few get a reduced tax bill, governments lose revenue for public services, resulting in either service cuts or tax hikes for everybody else.
Budget 2021 announced initiatives that, when implemented, will take tangible steps in the direction of tax fairness. These include a digital service tax for companies like Netflix and Amazon and the creation of a publicly accessible beneficial ownership registry.
These are both important initiatives long championed by PIPSC members and our allies in civil society.
Overall, our CRA professionals must receive the training, tools and resources they need to do their jobs.
The CRA must receive appropriate funding to ensure tax laws are enforced equitably and that wealthy individuals and powerful corporations are just as accountable as any other Canadian. And there needs to be international cooperation and updates to legislation, so those who try the hardest to avoid taxes end up paying their fair share.
For a copy of the full report please go to:
Employee Assistance (EAP) by Satie Narain-Simon:
We now have a new national external Employee Assistance Program service provider, Homewood Health, Phone number 1-800-663-1142 Teletypewriter (TTY) for the hearing impaired 1-888-384-1152, Hours Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Rossana Guglietti, is Toronto Centre’s interim EAP Coordinator Counsellor while David Richer is on extended leave.
KC, our local President wanted to share the following to be noted re: our new provider, Homewood:
Initially when you sign in for the new provider Homewood Health, from your CRA computer, you will be asked to join in as a new employee or CRA in Ontario. It is based on each individual home email and you need to validate your email before you can sign in. You will get your profile for your self-care.
When you use the free financial or legal assistance once a year, do not use the free legal service on employment law against your employer. This is a new and additional EAP benefit from the new provider. So make good use of it.
You can ask for assistance or seek articles to cater for each individual family member in personal issues, emotional issues, workplace issues and family related issues.
There is a library dealing with various issues. Please share your experience with this newsletter committee so that members can benefit from some new and improved services. We will try to get Homewood Health to talk to us on their services.
Random act of kindness by Satie Narain-Simon, Chair of EAP
The Pandemic lockdown has been a strain on most of us at some point, including myself. One of the ways I brought joy to my day, especially during the dark, cold winter days, were acts of random kindness. One being, during routine walks along the Harbor, I began to notice a lonesome homeless fella sitting in the same spot every day at the same time. He just sat there, head upright, eyes lowered, not a bother to anyone. I noticed he looked so peaceful, and never asked anyone for anything. I started saying ‘good morning’ with a smile for a while, until he got comfortable. Then I started giving him a minute motivational talk, something along the lines of how wonderful he is, how I wish him wonderful things, and how we are the same, the only difference being, that I have a few more things than him. I began to notice changes in (Homeless guy, Toronto Harbor) his demeanor, this went on for months. I graduated by giving him a dollar note here and there, then to Tim Horton’s on a regular basis. I would let him order, I noticed his low tone and his shyness. I wanted him to gain confidence, I noticed how he was cognizant of the prices, and would ask if it was okay to order an item. I would then tell him that he deserved it, to order whatever he wanted, trust and friendship building blocks. Today I am happy to report that he is dreaming of having a place to call “home” one day, maybe someone will hire him, he has hope. This makes my heart smile, for I know I have made a difference to this young man’s life, his name is Gershon!
Power of Meditation by Rajan Tharmarajah, Treasurer & Chair of Health & Safety Committee
I started the journey on Power of Meditation in December 2020. Devoting two hours in a day has changed my life for the better. Meditation has helped me to relieve stress, a greater understanding of myself and how I relate to those around me. Now, on average I deep sleep 5 out of 7 hours of sleep.
The practice of meditation is not trying to turn off our thoughts or feelings. Meditation is an art to observe those thoughts with positive thinking and good wishes to others; meditation is also an art of responding not reacting) the right way even if the situations were not very right. Positive thinking creates value to life. It has an impact on our overall well-being. Because, what you think and how you think affects your body. Think some worrisome thoughts, and feel the heart begin to pound. That is the reason today doctors admit that about 90% of all our physical disease is psychological. The good wishes and happiness we give to others will brighten our own life. Uncontrolled anger and hate may have destructive results for us and those who are closest to us. Therefore, please do not take revenge, have compassion and give blessings to the other person. In the long run you will be victorious.
Why is meditation important? A single thought in our mind creates many feelings. A collection of feelings is the base of our attitude. The attitudes in practice turn that into our habits. These habits make us the person who we are (personality). Our personality in action is our destiny. In effect, a single thought in our mind manifests that into our destiny. Since you create your own destiny, practice meditation to increase and build on positive thoughts, which will bring inner peace, happiness, and success within and around 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
Vice President Satie Narain-Simon
Treasurer Rajan Tharmarajah
Secretary Roland Bastair-Williams
Member-at-Large Renee Monize
Member-at-Large Nesia Cameron
Member-at-Large Amin Lalji
Member-at-Large Julia Bullough
Member-at-Large Carmine Masciangelo
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 Resource
Kim Veller - Toronto Centre ERO