Seasons Greeting from the Toronto Centre Executive Newsletter
TORONTO CENTRE AUDIT, FINANCIAL AND SCIENTIFIC (AFS) GROUP NEWS
Greetings and Salutations …
Your local Toronto Centre PIPSC Executives wish our members a Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year.
While every member is facing the pandemic times in our own ways, we are united in helping and keeping each other safe. I am very proud of our local AFS stewards and members in Toronto Centre. We have been helping Canadians in getting their benefits; we donated our time and money in record amount and numbers. We opened our hearts and minds. We rose up to the challenges thrown at us. We will see hope and prosperity and not despair in 2021.
Our local stewards have been in constant contact with Management to bring forward your concerns. We discussed Phoenix Damage Pay Leave, limited Vacation carry-overs, 699s time code use, re-entry for quick pickups, EAP and mental health resilience, PSES Survey, NEEDC- National Employment Equity Diversity Committee racism, Harassment and Discrimination Bill C-65 January 1, 2021, Return to worksite Plan committee, T2200, EWSP- Employee Wellness Support Program and so on. As we move forward through the crisis, our stewards will continue to work on your behalf. Don’t hesitate to contact a local steward or member of our AFS Executive if you have any question or concerns on their work on their committees.
I am thankful that our newly elected Executives, stewards, members and management are united in fighting together instead of against each other in limiting the virus spread. Our common objective is to keep our members safe. Lastly, I would like to congratulate Al Ravjiani, our Toronto Regional Representative in the recent election and thank him for his support.
KC Tiow, President
Magnificent seasonal floral display, Las Vegas. Thousands of fresh flowers put together.
Welcome to our AFS Newsletter. It has been 10 months since our world went into pandemic mode, so many changes; our members have done such an exemplary task adjusting. As the year ends, take time to reflect, count our blessings, keep well, and get ready to welcome 2021, full of hope and expectations. We hope you enjoy this edition and we look forward to receiving your comments and suggestions for future content. This newsletter includes the President’s message, articles on the National President’s Evaluation, and EAP - wellness articles. The newsletter concludes with AFS contact information.
By Satie Narain-Simon, VP (AFS), Newsletter Editor.
Summary of the President's Evaluation - Report 2020 by Renee Monize, Chair of L & L
The president's report released on November 2, 2020 provided some updates that local members might be interested in. Below are some of the highlights:
PIPSC responded quickly to get many members working from home and they advocated to ensure that members who were needed in the workplace were safe.
The PIPSC team worked in daily meetings with the federal government to address challenges in the move to remote work. The employment relations team worked tirelessly to support members in your individual challenges.
Also, PIPSC worked hard to ensure that members had access to the leave they needed to care for their children and ill family members. When the federal government attempted to pull the Code 699 leave, PIPSC fought back.
Currently, PIPSC is working with members employers to ensure safe return to workplace plans. They are pushing hard to stop the federal public service conversion to open offices. The Institute will continue to negotiate to protect paid leave for childcare.
While work on developing and piloting NextGen has been delayed by the pandemic, PIPSC continue to push to see progress more quickly. Every public servant deserves to be paid accurately and on time. And they will make sure our members' voices continue to be heard.
The resources invested now to resolve Phoenix errors must continue to be available and PIPSC remains vigilant against any cuts to this work.
The Phoenix Help team remains available to support any member should they have any new or ongoing pay errors, and can help expedite solutions where Phoenix errors are causing financial hardship.
The new Protecting Pensions campaign launched this year, to great success. Thousands of members in all groups participated in our Understanding your pension webinar series. Understanding the pensions we have and the potential political attacks against them is the first step to ensure a secure retirement for all members.
PIPSC has also established a PIPSC pension advisory committee with representation from all of our members' plans to ensure we are well placed to advocate on this important issue.
Human Rights and Diversity Committee
Following the leadership of Black members, the PIPSC board voted to create the PIPSC Black Caucus. The Black Caucus will lead and implement strategies for combating anti-Black racism at PIPSC and with our employers. The webinar, Anti-Black racism, let’s talk about it!, was the first undertaking of this caucus, bringing together PIPSC members to learn about anti-Black racism.
The PIPSC board then voted to create five equity caucuses – the Indigenous Caucus (dis)Ability Caucus, Workers of Colour Caucus, LGBTQ2S+ Caucus and Women's Caucus – to work collectively toward the Human Rights and Diversity committee’s overarching objectives.
Employee Wellness Support Program
Negotiations of the new Employee Wellness Support Program have been slowed as a result of diverted resources for the pandemic response. PIPSC is at the table now with the Treasury Board and continue to negotiate. There are still some sticking points but PIPSC continues to push hard for a strong result.
PIPSC continues to participate in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Base Erosion Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative to put an end to tax avoidance strategies. The Institute is fighting to end beneficial ownership practices by pushing the federal government to create a publicly accessible registry of company beneficial ownership information. The federal Speech from the Throne showed promise on tax fairness – PIPSC's work with partner organizations like Canadians for Tax Fairness is paying off.
For a copy of the full report please go to:
PIPSC President Debi Daviau indicated that parity with the PSAC settlement ("me too clause") has been negotiated with the Treasury Board and will be forthcoming, subject to adjustments for different provisions negotiated and that the CRA has not followed Treasury Board Departments in having vacation leave (including Phoenix Damages Leave) balances in excess of 262.5 hours to not be automatically cashed out after Mar 31, 2021, but, AFS Group President, Doug Mason, continues to have dialogue with the CRA on the matter.
Vacation and Phoenix Damage Leave Balances in Excess of 262.5 hours
All staff are being asked to schedule use of their vacation/PDL leave balances so that they do not exceed 262.5 hours combined. The Ontario Region does not have the budget for the automatic cash out. Please use out your excess balance by March 31, 2021.
All staff should have received their Y280s performance reviews by November 30, 2020. If you have any concerns, please contact a steward.
Beauty and Benefits of Crystals by Satie Narain-Simon, Chair of EAP
Crystals are so beautiful, the colors, natural shapes, cuts, sparkles, never cease to amaze! Origins date back to eons ago, making these wonderful gifts from Mother Earth. Earth began as a whirling gas cloud of cosmic debris, raw materials for crystals – Earth’s DNA. The crystalline structure of these stones absorbs conserves, focuses and emits energy. One may think that this is New Age; however, crystals are actually one of the oldest forms of healing.
Energy/vibrational medicine have become a very popular alternative healing therapy. It is the medicine of the future.
A Crystal Bed Healing is a life enhancing experience because of the profound work being done on all levels of the body. My personal experience of crystal bed sessions, is one on undeniable benefits, this has become a lifestyle choice. This profound healing system pulses coloured light through 7 clear quartz crystals into your energy field and to the 7 main chakra centers. These centers are the spinning disks of energy that should stay aligned as they correspond to our bodies’ nerves, and other energetic areas. A session cleanses and balances your etheric field, raising the frequency of your energy bodies, deep healing work done on all levels of your body - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. (Pic of my rescue dog, having a session)
It is a known ancient practice dating back to late Atlantis times, combining the power of colour and crystal light frequencies using an array of specially cut and lighted quartz crystals.
The specific purpose of using a crystal light bed is to bring about electromagnetic balance within the body, to balance energy meridians and to create alignment between the physical body and the auric layers of our energy field.
The health effects of crystal therapy result from the vibration of the crystals resonating with the water in our cells and tissues. Structured water has increased surface tension and bonding properties. It is the pure state of water found in the healthy cell tissue. Cancer cells and other unhealthy cells contain unstructured water.
The Crystal Healing is safe and non-invasive. All the individual needs to do is to relax and let go. The light, the crystals, and the Healing Spirit Guides will do the rest.
(Sources – Crystal Bible, media – Brazil, South Africa)
Mindfulness by Satie Narain-Simon, Chair of EAP
It gives me immense pleasure to share this article of a special someone known as “my Guru”, Swami Veda Bharati, a very interesting human. He reigned in over 24 countries on his quest to share knowledge passed down to him from his Himalayan Master of Himalayan yoga and meditation tradition. It couldn’t be more fitting than now for all of us, to have an aid, some form of technique of mindfulness.
Swami Veda Bharati suggests going every 2-3 hours into a state of inner silence (meditative state) for just 2 minutes.
How to reach this inner state of silence?
- Sit comfortably (If sitting is not possible, stand comfortably - be practical).
- If possible, relax all musculature and joints in one breath. The most proficient can do so, but do not struggle. With your awareness, quickly and systematically relax your whole body.
- Relax your forehead. Feel the touch of the breath in the nostrils.
- Breathe slowly, gently, smoothly.
- Let there be no sound, jerks, or pauses.
- Eliminate the pauses between the breaths. As soon as one breath is completed, begin to feel the next breath flow.
- Use one of the four thoughts below. Let the chosen thought flow with each breath, not on the lips, not on the tongue, not in the vocal cards, but only as a thought in your mind.
- Your personal mantra
- In the absence of a personal mantra, exhale "ham" and inhale "so". Let there be no break in the chain of "ham so", "so ham" thought flow.
- Choose a name of a divinity you prefer in accordance with your tradition.
- If you do not believe in the above three, then count 1 with the exhalation and 2 with the inhalation. There are many ways of counting breaths; this is the simplest.
- After whatever number of above observations of the breath and single repeated thought, observe how the breath, mind, and the word thought are flowing as a single stream.
- The entire mind becomes an even flowing stream.
- Without breaking the stream and its operation, slowly open your eyes.
- Resolve in your mind that you will calm the mind in this way many times in the day.
- Whatever you do with the mind repeatedly becomes the mind's habit. At present, disturbance is the mind's habit. Later calmness and peace will become the mind's nature.
Thoughts may arise during the meditation. Do not be angry with yourself because of thoughts arising. Be gentle to yourself, and bring your awareness back to your object of concentration.
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
Member-at-Large 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 Resources
Toronto Centre ERO Tony Jones