Hello Sisters, Brothers and Friends,
Last October, some members and elected representatives of the Union of Taxation Employees (UTE) have notified the UTE National Office that they have been advised that some determinate employees in the Assessment, Benefits and Services Branch (ABSB) of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will not have their service recognized upon reappointment or extension for purposes of administrative conversion. Initially, the UTE National Office was informed of this decision, but was not consulted. Following this initial contact, I engaged in discussions on this matter with senior management at ABSB and the Agency's Human Resources Branch. Then, I spoke with the CRA Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner and I also raised the matter at the December 2023 National Union Management Committee meeting of the parties.
As the matter remained unresolved, the parties agreed to a subsequent meeting between the UTE National President, the Chairperson of our Call Centre Committee and our Labour Relations professionals and the CRA Deputy Commissioner, the Human Resources Assistant Commissioner and other functional representatives of the employer. This meeting was held on December 19, 2023.
At the meeting, the employer explained that the funding for ABSB programs had been reduced significantly and a substantial portion of the funding was temporary in nature. Accordingly, the employer decided to invoke the Sunset Funding provisions of its Staffing Program, thereby excluding term employees’ service from the date of reappointment for the period of the Sunset Funding.
In all of the meetings with various representatives of the employer, UTE strongly opposed the imposition of the Sunset Funding provisions and took the position that this policy was not the appropriate instrument to address the reduction in funding and the temporary nature of the funding. In discussions with some members and elected representatives, and as confirmed by the employer, many of these affected members are not solely working on programs subject to the temporary funding, but also working on the functions subject to permanent, stable funding.
According to the Treasury Board policy on this matter, Sunset Funding is intended to be used solely “where the source of funding for salary dollars is from external sources and for a limited duration”. The policy goes on to state that “departments and agencies must identify a program, project or initiative as being sunset funded for the purposes of this policy”. It is UTE’s position that where employees are working concurrently on both the normal business lines that are subject to permanent and stable funding, as well as the projects or initiatives that are subject to temporary funding, their service should continue for purposes of administrative conversion.
UTE also strongly advocated that the CRA’s Contact Centres are severely understaffed and reminded the employer representatives that the CRA has been severely criticized by taxpayers, taxpayer representative groups, business owners and the Office of the Auditor General for failing to meet the service standards to taxpayers. Accordingly, we suggested that the CRA should advance a persuasive case to the Minister of National Revenue and to Treasury Board for increased and permanent funding. Despite the position that we advanced and our strong objections, the employer has advised that it will not rescind its decision to apply the provisions of its Sunset Funding policy.
Unfortunately, as this policy falls under the provisions of the CRA Staffing Program, we are left with little, if any, meaningful recourse against the employer’s decision.
That being said, we will continue to examine this issue closely with a view to developing other strategies to effectively address this matter. We will keep you apprised of future developments.
Union of Taxation Employees