Employee Assistance Program

Minutes of the EAP National Advisory Committee

February 16, 2018

DATE: February 16, 2018, 2017                                       TIME: 1:00 to 2:45 p.m.

LOCATION:  395 Terminal Avenue, 7th Floor, Room 7006
                      Ottawa ON

PARTICIPANTS:

Management
Maggie Trudel-Maggiore
Director General, Workplace Relations and
Compensation Directorate

Marc Lacasse
Director, International and Ottawa
Tax Services Office

National EAP Office
Robert Allen
Director, Integrity and Well-being

Myriam Pierre-Louis
Manager

Geneviève Maurice
Corporate EAP Consultant (minute taker)

 

Regrets

Labour Relations
Sage Scott
Labour Relations Advisor

Union
Allaudin Alibhai
AFS Group Representative
PIPSC

Brian Hassall
AFS Group Representative
PIPSC

Kimberley Koch
Chair of the UTE EAP Committee
PSAC

Linda Koenders
Co-chair of the UTE EAP Committee
PSAC

Andrea Homes
Technical Advisor of the UTE EAP Committee
PSAC

Heather Ford
Member of the UTE EAP Committee
PSAC

OPENING REMARKS

Maggie Trudel‑Maggiore, Director General, Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate (WRCD), welcomed everyone in attendance. A brief explanation of the purpose of this special National Advisory Committee (NAC) meeting was shared. The purpose was to provide an update on how the four recommendations from the Audit, Evaluation and Risk Branch (AERB) evaluation study of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) are being addressed.

A regular NAC meeting will be scheduled in March 2018 where questions from the unions will be addressed and other Program updates will be provided.

Members of the committee were invited to introduce themselves and share opening remarks.

Union members expressed disappointment in not being made aware of major decisions that affect the Program until much after the decisions are made. Management explained that they make every effort to share information as soon as it is possible to do so and noted their concern.

1. Update on the AERB Evaluation Study of the EAP

a. Background and Recap

Management provided general information on the Evaluation Study for the benefit of informing new union members.

AERB launched the evaluation study of the EAP in February 2016. The goals of the evaluation were to examine the effectiveness of the administration of the program, and also identify opportunities for improvement.

Some union members were interviewed by AERB, during the examination phase of the evaluation study.

Regular updates on the progress of the evaluation study recommendations were shared with union members as they became available. During the March 2017 NAC meeting, union members had an opportunity to share their reactions to the report, as well as their suggestions moving forward.

Management shared updates on the progress made, in response to each recommendation.

b. Recommendation 1 – Monitoring and Reporting

To address the first recommendation on monitoring, the use of internal order (IO) codes was implemented in November 2017 to better track and capture the time expenditure of EAP Coordinator-counsellors (C-Cs) in three categories:  

  1. Direct Client Services;
  2. Program Management; and
  3. Program Monitoring.

This information will help support program management, accountability, and the development of analytics that support measurement (i.e. trends/patterns by C-C/regions), including the costs associated with each activity.

The selection and monitoring of external service provider (ESP) contracts also falls under this recommendation. Effective April 1, 2018, activities related to the sourcing of new ESPs will be centralized at the National EAP Office (NEAPO), as existing contracts expire, and new ones are issued. Regional management and unions will now work with NEAPO to review the various bids. The C-Cs will continue to oversee ESP deliverables, quality assurance issues including complaint management, and the validation of expenditures.

c. Recommendation 2 – Referral Agents (RA)

For the recommendation on the RA role, management began with a brief summary of how the role was first established at the Agency, then followed with a progress report as well as next steps.

In October, 2017 senior management decided to move ahead with the elimination of the referral agent role. It was viewed that AERB’s assessment of risk related to non mental health professionals providing emotional support to their colleagues, outweighed the benefits of having a RA network across the country. 

Effective April 1, 2018, EAP services will be provided exclusively by qualified mental health professionals, namely the 17 C-Cs and the ESP counsellors.

A communication plan and timelines to advise all EAP stakeholders of the change were developed. A brief overview of the plan and the various communication items were provided to the committee.

The national unions mentioned that they support the decision to remove the RAs from the EAP service delivery model. They also indicated that they do not want their members to be negatively impacted by the loss of any well-being service or activity that is currently being offered by RAs. Unions also questioned why the RAs will continue in their role until March 31st. Management explained that it is to allow for a transition period. The implementation of the communication plan, as well as the review and update of all documents and webpages that make a reference the RA role will take time.

The national message, questions and answers for the C-C and the recognition letter to RAs will be sent to the unions for their information.

d. Recommendation 3 – Contracting of External Service Providers (ESP)

Management explained that the Finance and Administration Branch (FAB) is presently addressing the third recommendation on the contracting of ESPs and has not yet provided management with their findings.

The AERB evaluation study recommended that a comparative analysis be completed to determine if there would be benefits to having a single ESP, as opposed to our current model, which includes six regional contracts or agreements. Management reminded members that EAP has a national statement of work (SOW) with essential criteria that ESPs have to meet, whether there is one contract or six.

e. Recommendation 4 – Training

The fourth recommendation on training consisted of continuing to work with the Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) to avoid duplication and determine the most effective and efficient learning delivery model.

Management explained that currently, the C-Cs continue to deliver the national EAP learning solutions, and the program is also actively promoting what is offered at the CSPS.

NEAPO continues to monitor changes and additions related to training at the CSPS, to avoid duplication and ensure transition of course content where possible.

NEAPO is also exploring the repurposing of the EAP content from the former Leadership Plus training package; and would like to create an online version of the EAP Orientation session, to make it easily accessible to all employees.

NEAPO would like to focus on expanding the tools available to C-Cs. These tools would assist the C-Cs in leading learning circles, discussion panels, informal or focused conversations. 

2. CLOSING REMARKS

The Director General thanked everyone for their participation in this committee and for their dedication to the Program. It was agreed that the regular NAC meeting would take place on March 16, 2018. It was suggested that videoconferencing could be an option for those who do not wish to travel again.

The agenda for the regular NAC meeting will include the items that the unions brought forward in January with the exception of the UTE item about referral agents, which was addressed during this meeting.

A discussion on the number of EAP counselling sessions available to employees took place.

Management agreed to review the wording posted on the InfoZone regarding the number of sessions available to employees, and to make modifications to soften the language.

SUMMARY OF COMMITMENTS

To be actioned by

Management will share items from the communications plan: the national message, questions and answers for the C-C and the recognition letter to RAs, with the unions, for their information.

National EAP Office

Management agreed to review the wording posted on the InfoZone regarding the number of sessions available to employees, and to make modifications to soften the language.

National EAP Office

Approved by:
Maggie Trudel-Maggiore
Director General
Workplace Relations and
Compensation Directorate

Date:
July 19, 2018

      

Approved by:
Allaudin Alibhai
AFS Group Representative
PIPSC

Date:
August 16, 2018

Kimberley Koch
UTE Representative
PSAC

Date:
August 15, 2018