Employee Assistance Program

Minutes of the EAP National Advisory Committee

March 16, 2018

DATE:                March 16, 2018                                                             TIME: 1:00 to 4:00 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

Sandrine Uwamahoro
Minute taker

Guest
Chris Roach
AFS Group Representative
PIPSC

 

Labour Relations
Nancy Lavalle
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 Holmes
Technical Advisor of the UTE EAP committee
PSAC

Heather Ford
Member of the UTE EAP Committee
PSAC

OPENING REMARKS

Maggie Trudel‑Maggiore, Director General (DG), Workplace Relations and Compensation Directorate (WRCD), welcomed and thanked everyone in attendance for their flexibility being that this meeting was so close to the February meeting. In the opening remarks she mentioned that the Unions’ questions and the points of discussion previously raised would be addressed during the meeting. Members of the committee and observers were invited to introduce themselves and share opening remarks.

NOTE

Highlights of the 2016‑2017 semi-annual statistics were shared prior to the meeting, and there were no questions or comments related to this item.

Chris Roach, Vice-President – AFS Group, participated remotely from Summerside, P.E.I. He was thankful and appreciative of the fact that the members were open to him participating via videoconference.

1. QUESTION FROM AFS

EAP accessibility when travelling and when not at work

Chris Roach, Vice-President – AFS Group, asked the Program that it improve the accessibility of EAP contact information for employees and family members. He shared an experience that he had while traveling outside of his region, where he needed to get in touch with an EAP representative. He did not have the EAP contact information with him and getting it proved to be a challenge.

The DG thanked Chris Roach for sharing his personal experience.

Suggestions brought forward by members included:

UNIONS:
  • DND has the EAP contact information on their public web page. Perhaps the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) could explore that option as well, which would make the EAP contact information accessible to employees who are not in the office, and to their family members.
  • A union representative asked if the EAP contact information could be added to the employee identification document (ID) card. Management explained that this option had been explored, but were advised that only security related information can be printed on the ID cards.
  • Another union representative mentioned that the information could be included on the Unions’ public websites. Management agreed that this could be a good option to look into.
  • Another option would be to provide the EAP contact information on promotional items such as agendas or magnets. Management mentioned that in today’s reality of limited budgets for promotional material, this may not be a viable option. Also, many employees use electronic agendas, rather than paper ones.
MANAGEMENT:
  • An option would be for all Coordinator-counsellors (C-C) to print, once a year, the EAP information sheet, and distribute it to all employees as a reminder of the available services for them and their family members.  Union representatives believe that this type of promotion would be ignored by their members.
  • Management will explore the possibility of including EAP contact information on CRA’s external website.
  • Management will look into the feasibility of having the EAP contact information integrated into the Interactive Voice Response system of the Building Security telephone line.
  • Management will also look into having a reminder sent to all employees to input the contact information of their EAP service providers in their personal devices.
NOTE

Members and observers were invited to share further ideas about this topic during the meeting and afterwards.

2. Follow up on Commitments

The National Employee Assistance Program Office (NEAPO)

Service Renewal:

1. The National EAP Office will provide a synopsis report on the use of EAP services and if the lessons learned with previous initiatives were applied to the Service Renewal initiative.

  • A national plan was drafted and the EAP network, who had received notice of the upcoming changes, were prepared to meet the local requests for assistance.
  • Compared to similar initiatives that occurred in the past, the network used a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.
Contracting:

2. The National EAP Office will provide the Finance and Administration Branch (FAB) Contracting Division, the names of NAC union representatives so that they can be consulted as part of their comparative analysis of External Service Providers (ESPs). 

  • In an email sent on July 12, 2017, the NAC union representatives were advised that FAB’s analysis would no longer include a round of consultations, due to a change in direction.  
Retirement:

3. The National EAP Office will explore the possibility of having the EAP factsheet on the psychological and social aspects of retirement included as part of the off-boarding program, when the departure is due to retirement.

  • NEAPO confirmed that the factsheet is now included as part of the off-boarding package.

4. The National EAP Office will consider promoting the importance of preparing for retirement while the employee is still at work, in a future newsletter.

  • The topic of retirement has been included in past EAP newsletters and will continue to be addressed via other communication items and learning solutions that touch on change and resilience.
EAP Evaluation:

5. The National EAP Office committed to keeping the unions informed as new information related to the recommendations of the EAP evaluation became available.

  • In addition to sharing regular updates on the progress of the EAP evaluation study recommendations, a special purpose meeting dedicated to the four recommendations was held on February 16, 2018.

6. The National EAP Office committed to keeping the unions informed, as new information related to the possible transfer of EAP training to the CSPS becomes available.

  • An update on this topic was provided during the February 16, 2018 meeting.

7. Management will share the national message, questions and answers and the RA recognition letter from the Communications plan with the unions, for their information.

  • These items were sent to the unions on February 26, 2018.

InfoZone:

8. Management agreed to review the wording of the statements on InfoZone related to the number of counselling sessions and make modifications to soften the language.

  • This item is still in progress.

3. NAC Terms of Reference

Everyone agreed that this was a good time to review the NAC Terms of Reference. Management suggested that the review be completed individually and that the feedback and suggestions be sent to NEAPO by Tuesday September 4, 2018.

A preliminary discussion occurred, and certain points that will need to be discussed further were raised:  

  • Should the number of members from each group change?
  • Should the frequency of the meetings change (twice a year, once a year or once a year with ad-hoc meetings if necessary)?
  • Should it be indicated that NAC members need to be flexible and willing to make themselves available if meetings need to be rescheduled, for example?

4. Transition of EAP web pages to WET4 format

The Intranet Modernization Initiative started in 2015. As a result, all programs including the EAP were asked to align their web pages to the new standards, with the goal of improving the end-user’s experience.

In 2016, the Agency Intranet Program (AIP) worked on redesigning the EAP web pages, but the project was put on hold due to other program priorities.

In February 2017, NEAPO developed a new contact page, as well as a page on Suicide awareness, prevention and support that was published to coincide with the national event on suicide prevention (February 23, 2017). This page was also promoted the week of September 4, 2017, for World Suicide Prevention Day.

In November 2017 work resumed on the EAP web pages. NEAPO has been working closely with AIP who has recently sent a mock up. The WET4 EAP pages will be published on March 29th, 2018.

Prior to the meeting, management sent a screen shot of the new EAP pages to all NAC members, who were asked to provide feedback and suggestions.

Members of both unions liked the new WET4 pages but asked if there would be links to the regional EAP pages.

Management explained that the focus is on publishing the national pages by the set timeline, as the link to the main EAP page will be included in a national RA recognition message that will also promote the new pages, and the remaining two EAP access points. Following the launch, more changes will occur on the pages and discussions around including links to the regional pages can take place at that time. However, following the Redundant, Outdated and Trivial (ROT) exercise, and to ensure consistency of EAP information, it may preferable to have program information on the national pages only.

NOTE

The Well-being section is working closely with the Respectful workplace and well-being Champion to ensure that the redesign of their web pages promotes the EAP as well as the tools and services available to all employees.

5. Activities in Support of the Respectful Workplace and Well-being Strategy

As subject matter experts and qualified mental health professionals, the EAP is well positioned and fully engaged in the planning and implementation of activities in support of the Respectful Workplace and Well-being Strategy.

a.  World Health Day – Depression: let’s talk (April 7, 2017)

Although World Health Day is not usually an event that is promoted by the EAP, in 2017 the topic was related to mental health. The InfoZone billboard, which provided a link to the Mental Health web page where information on depression, including external links on the topic, were listed, received almost 3,000 views that week.

b. Mental Health Week (May 1 to 7, 2017)

The National EAP Office, in collaboration with the Champion’s communication advisors and the Public Affairs Branch (PAB), coordinated a nation-wide approach, with events and communication occurring in each region during Mental Health Week. Over 4,000 people participated in various events during the week such as, wellness fairs, EAP workshops, EAP orientation and information sessions, etc.

c. International Self Care Day (July 24, 2017)

Communication for this day focused on simple self-care strategies. Content for the Mental Health page and the Champion’s corner, which included a link to the EAP contact page, was developed. It was the first time that this day was recognized at the CRA.

d. World Suicide Prevention Day (September 5 to 8, 2017)

World Suicide Prevention Day was recognized for the first time at the CRA in 2017. NEAPO focused on promoting internal resources, such as the EAP and the Suicide awareness, prevention and support web page, as well as external resources such as local Crisis Centres, via national messaging signed by the Assistant Commissioner of the Human Resources Branch and the Well-being champion.

e. Healthy Workplace Month (October 2017)

Healthy Workplace Month was recognized for the first time in 2017. Since the lead for the Well-being portfolio was on leave, NEAPO took on the task of developing the communication plan and items, in collaboration with the Well-being Champion’s communication advisors and PAB.

This month was promoted along with the other well-being related weeks and days recognized at CRA in October – Conflict Resolution Day and Mental Illness Awareness Week.

f. Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 1 to 7, 2017)

A national approach was coordinated, with events and communication occurring in each region during the week. More than 2,000 people participated in events such as EAP workshops, wellness fairs, lunch and learns, etc.

6. Question from UTE

The roll-out of the referral agent role

During the February meeting, NEAPO mentioned that a communication plan had been developed and was being implemented. The RAs were to be notified of the changes to the EAP service delivery model the week of February 26th.

Update: These meetings took place and the C-Cs reported that the RAs experienced a mix of emotions. All expressed gratitude for having had the opportunity to be part of the EAP RA network.

Currently, the content of the EAP pages, promotional material, learning products, etc. are being revised in order to remove information related to the RAs. The CRA Guide to the EAP will also be updated to account for these changes. No decision has been made as to whether the Local Advisory Committee (LAC) members will play a more active role in the promotion of the program in order to fill this gap. The online version of the EAP Orientation Session, which will be a narrated e-presentation, will help maintain the program’s visibility. This tool should be available in the fall.

The national RA recognition message to all employees will be published as an InfoZone news item on March 29th. The message will also be cascaded down from the Agency Management Committee. The recognition plan also includes a certificate and a small token of appreciation for each active RA.

7. Updates

EAP Learning Event

The Learning Event, which should have taken place in November 2016, was rescheduled due to the Service Renewal initiative, and was held on June 6 and 7, 2017. Fifteen C-Cs from coast to coast as well as NEAPO staff were present. On the first day, Danie Beaulieu, PhD offered a workshop on grief and on Impact therapy techniques. The second day, Lisa Samson, an accredited coach, offered a workshop on the Appreciative Inquiry technique. Based on the feedback received, the C-Cs enjoyed the event and learned new techniques that can be applied in their day to day work with individual clients, in both the counselling and advisory consultation settings.

National EAP Newsletters (4 editions)

Copies of the last four issues of the EAP newsletter were shared with NAC members. These covered the following topics:

  • Summer 2017: The importance of providing positive feedback;
  • Fall 2017: Grief and loss;
  • Winter 2018: Prevention of physical and mental health issues; and
  • Spring 2018: Steps to take to improve your quality of life.

Taking into consideration the work involved in the contracting process, and the value for money, management believes that the team’s time and the $12,000 budget to cover the quarterly newsletter can be better spent elsewhere, given that 50% of the content of the newsletters is provided by the team. It was therefore decided that the contract with Canada Wide, who produces the EAP newsletter, will not be renewed as of July 15th, 2018. The last edition with the provider will be in the summer. The CRA has the internal expertise and the capacity to produce its own newsletter.  With the development of the new EAP web pages and the Well-being site, there will be no shortage of content.

CLOSING REMARKS

The Director General thanked everyone for their participation in this committee and for their dedication to the program. The next meeting will take place in the fall of 2018.

SUMMARY OF COMMITMENTS

To be actioned by

Management will explore the possibility of including EAP contact information on CRA’s external website.

Management will look into the feasibility of having the EAP contact information integrated to the IVR automated phone system.

Management will look into having a reminder sent to all employees to input the contact information of their EAP service providers in their personal devices.

National EAP Office

National EAP Office

National EAP Office

 The NAC Terms of Reference will be sent to committee members for their feedback and suggestions.

Committee feedback and suggestions regarding the NAC Terms of Reference are to be returned to NEAPO by Tuesday, September 4, 2018.

National EAP Office

Unions

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