DATE: September 29, 2020 TIME: 1:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Conference call
Doug Gaetz (UTE)
This meeting was chaired by the Employee Co-Chair, Mr. Doug Gaetz.
EMPLOYEE CO-CHAIR REMARKS
The Employee Co-Chair began by welcoming the members and guests to the meeting, and in particular, the Commissioner of the Canada Revenue Agency, Bob Hamilton, to provide an update to the NHSPC on the CRA response to the pandemic. Claude Corbin, Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Agency Comptroller, Finance and Administration Branch (FAB) was welcomed as a new member of the NHSPC replacing Hugo Pagé. Jeremy Hebert and Nandini Srikantiah from Real Property and Services Integration Directorate were also announced as guests for the meeting. Lastly, the Employee Co-Chair announced the departure of Tracy Marcotte and Andrea McKay and thanked them for their contributions to the committee.
EMPLOYER CO-CHAIR REMARKS
The Employer Co-Chair also welcomed the Commissioner, members and guests to the meeting. He noted that the main focus of the NHSPC remains the COVID-19 response to ensure the health and safety of the CRA employees. Members were reminded that as the CRA continues the resumption of business activities, meetings will gradually return to a standard format.
REMARKS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF THE CRA
The Commissioner noted that he was pleased to join the meeting and took the opportunity to recognize the committee’s efforts to support the CRA and its employees over the last several months. The Commissioner was proud to report that the CRA has received recognition from other departments for facing a pandemic and providing benefits to Canadians at the same time. He pointed out that the real success is behind the scenes and recognized the work of all employees to support Canadians. He emphasized the importance of taking into account the lessons learned from this situation so that we may continue to work together throughout the pandemic. Although the CRA is well positioned, he indicated that challenges are to be anticipated with the gradual resumption of business while continuing to provide benefits to Canadians. In conclusion, the Commissioner thanked the members again for being the bedrock of progress and for helping to support the health and safety of employees.
The Employee Co-Chair thanked the Commissioner and expressed his appreciation to the committee for the great work done during the pandemic.
The Employer Co-Chair supported the Employee Co-Chair in his comments and recognized the remarkable work done in record time during the pandemic while continuing to observe health and safety regulations.
UPDATE FROM THE Human Resources branch (HRB) - Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Program
Representatives from the Human Resources Branch (HRB) took a moment to thank the employee representatives for their regular discussions with the Assistant Director of OHS on various OHS initiatives and issues and for their contribution in the development of key documents that support managers and employees.
In addition, it was mentioned that the National OHS Section is working with the Workforce Learning and Leadership Development Division on COVID-19 training products. The draft documents will be shared for consultation with the employee representatives once the final drafts are completed. The National OHS Section anticipates the completion of the learning product by November 2020.
WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION (WVP)
Members were provided with an update on the CRA workplace violence prevention program. Members were reminded that with the closure of the buildings and the shift to virtual work, workplace violence investigations were postponed. During the pandemic, the National OHS Section has been providing support to the parties involved in an attempt to help resolve them at the lowest level. The National OHS Section is currently working towards a gradual return to the full resumption of workplace violence complaints. Members were informed that a consent form was developed to ensure parties understand the potential privacy considerations associated with communicating over video conferencing platforms or cell phones. A copy of this form will be shared with the employee representatives prior to its use. Members were also informed that the National OHS Section is currently reviewing the workplace violence resumption plan to prioritize cases requiring immediate intervention and anticipates resuming new competent person investigations in early October.
Bill C-65 Update
Members received an update on Bill C-65. Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) published the new Harassment and Violence regulations on June 24, 2020 that will be coming into force on January 1, 2021. The National OHS Section is currently updating the work plan and also evaluating the potential impact of these requirements on programs areas. Members were informed that a new directive will be released by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) and that a review of the TBS and Labour Program interpretation, policies and guidance documents will be completed.
Members were informed that the National OHS Section participated in discussions on the Canada School of Public Service and Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety draft Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention training. Consultations with the NHSPC members are also planned to discuss the inclusion of the training as part of the Agency’s training program. A meeting will also be scheduled with the Workplace Violence Prevention Working Group in the next few weeks to discuss the Regulations and the next steps.
The current ergonomics contract with Workplace Health and Cost Solutions was extended to January 31, 2021 and virtual ergonomic assessments were added to the contract to provide a low risk option for employees who require a professional ergonomics assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Members were informed that the Request for Proposal for the ergonomics contract will be posted in October 2020. The National OHS Section will reach out to the employee representatives to identify a participant to sit on the evaluation team. It was noted that a protocol is in place for in-person ergonomics assessments with the provider should they be required. The National OHS Section will work with Early Intervention and Return To Work (EIRTW) on criteria to determine when an in-person assessment could be required and to ensure a smooth transition to resume ergonomics assessments. Employee representatives requested clarification on the next steps for home assessments (in-person). Members will be provided with an update on this topic at the next NHSPC meeting.
PSYCHOLOGICAL OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY (OHS)
The employer representative from HRB provided an update to the members on the psychological health and safety file. The NHSPC Working Group met on December 18, 2019 to review the national communiqué, the information sheet and the Psychological Hazards Action Plan for this file.
Members were also given an update on the Mental Health Office of Primary Interest Network Survey lead by the Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace (CEMHW), as well as the steps taken by the CRA to protect the psychological health and safety of employees. The CEMHW shared a toolkit to help organizations measure psychological health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The National OHS Section will share the tool kit and survey with the NHPSC Working Group for review. Members were reminded that the CRA continues to inform employees of the available resources, including EAP on national communications.
UPDATE FROM THE Finance and Administration Branch (FAB)
The employer representative from FAB provided an update on the national testing for airborne asbestos fibre initiative. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, there has been no change to the list of CRA sites known to contain asbestos-containing materials. In addition, the airborne asbestos fibre testing results from the 2019-20 fiscal year are, as they have been consistently since the implementation of the testing regime in 2016, well within the established safety thresholds and there remains no risk to employee health and safety. Given those results, and the exceptional circumstances presented by the pandemic, FAB recommended that the members consider forgoing the annual testing for 2020-2021 fiscal year in order to focus efforts on the COVID-19 response and initiatives. The employee representatives recommended that further consultations with the NHPSC members should take place prior to moving forward. FAB representatives agreed and indicated that options for testing will be proposed to the members at the next NHSPC.
Members were provided with an update on the implementation of the CRA National Worksite Protocol During the COVID-19. As of September 11, 2020, 68 of 102 sites were reported as occupied sites and 59 of them had implemented worksite plans in line with the National Worksite Protocol during the COVID-19. One of the outstanding 9 sites is to be closed, and worksite plans are currently being developed for the remaining 8 sites. The employee representatives raised concerns over the sites with no protocol in place and requested a planned completion date. FAB representatives indicated that in most cases, the physical measures had been put in place, and only administrative items, such as sign-off were outstanding. FAB representatives will provide the information to the employee representatives once the dates are confirmed.
The employee representatives also requested to obtain the number of CRA employees reporting to the Canada Border Services Agency sites. It was confirmed that those numbers will be provided to the employee representatives. The National OHS Section, jointly with ITB and FAB, will look at the option to have this information incorporated in the FAB taskforce reporting. The members will be provided with an update at the next NHSPC meeting.
Members received the written updates in advance of the meeting. Items requiring clarification were discussed as required and are listed below. It was noted that some of the regular activities have not resumed since the pandemic began on March 13, 2020 due to the priority of the work related to COVID-19.
OHS Program Monitoring
Members were informed that this activity has not resumed due to the priority related to COVID-19.
COVID-19 - Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) Working Group
Members were informed that a Risk Informed Decision Making for Physical Distancing – Infection and Prevention Controls document was developed to assist the MEJHA Working Group with the Task Hazard Analysis (THA) for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. A THA template was also created for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic for the MEJHA Working Group to determine where physical distancing could be problematic in the workplace. The MEJHA Working Group completed and shared with the Branches the THA for physical distancing in office spaces while using tools, equipment, and machinery in the workplace.
Members were also informed that a THA summary report for each Branch was shared with the Assistant Commissioners to assist with the prioritization of non-medical mask procurement, distribution, and usage. A communication including the applicable THA summary report was also sent to managers in all Branches. The National THA summary report will be posted on InfoZone shortly. Members were also informed of an upcoming communication from the NHSPC co-chairs to provide information on the role and responsibilities of the MEJHA Working Group.
Finally, members were informed that the Safe Usage of Reusable Non-Medical Masks Safe Work Procedure (SWP) and the Safe Usage of Disposable Non-Medical Masks SWP were posted on InfoZone and that training is mandatory for all employees who are provided with and use non-medical masks in the workplace. The Specialized Cleaning and Disinfecting for COVID-19: A guide for workplaces is currently under consultation with the MEJHA and JHA Working Groups, Procurement and Real Property.
COVID-19 - Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for Field Employees Working Group
Members were informed of the tools developed to assist the JHA Working Group for Field Employees with THA for physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members were informed that the Field Employee Risk Assessment:Document/Equipment Retrieval During the COVID-19 Pandemic was posted on InfoZone. The new SWP for Field Employees Working Outside of Federal Government Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic was published in the Directory of Learning Products. It was noted that training will be required for field employees prior to their return to work outside of federal government facilities.
Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVCs) and Directions
Members were informed that since December 2019, the CRA received one AVC in July 2020 in regards to a workplace violence complaint dated December 2018.
Incident Reporting and Disability Management System (IRDMS)
The National OHS Section met with the developers in September 2020 to discuss the launch of this initiative. Further consultations are planned for the testing and the training for HSC and managers. An update will be provided to members at a next NHSPC meeting.
Health and Safety Committee (HSC) Effectiveness
Members were reminded that a national message was sent to HSC and health and safety representatives (HSR) on September 8, 2020 on re-entry including a HSC re-entry document to provide guidance, advice and instructions for re-occupying CRA buildings during COVID-19. The inspection checklist was also updated to include a pandemic-related section. The National OHS Section is currently looking at options to deliver HSC/HSR training and continues to ensure the presence of HSC or HSR in open buildings. The National OHS Section also confirmed the resumption of the scorecards documentation which will be shared twice a year effective December 2020. Members will received an update on this file at the next NHSPC meeting.
First Aid and Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
The National OHS Section is currently working on the replacement of AED electrode pads in CRA locations. Phase 1 of this initiative for electrode pads expiring in June 2020 is almost complete. A communication will be sent in early October 2020 for phase 2 for electrode pads expiring between October and December 2020. The employee representatives asked for the number of electrode pads that have been replaced to date. The National OHS Section will provide them with the numbers prior to the next NHSPC meeting.
Members were also informed that the AED inspection checklist is currently under review and will be posted on InfoZone this fall. The National OHS Section also confirmed that training is available in each provinces to ensure valid certification for CRA first aid and AED responders. It was mentioned that ESDC has confirmed that the validity period for first aid certificates and certifications expiring between March 13, 2020, and August 31, 2020 has been temporarily extended by 6 months from the date on which it would otherwise have expired or until December 31, 2020, whichever comes first. The National OHS Section is currently working on a communication to provide first aid and AED coordinators with updates and support to this program.
OHS Training Report
The members received an update on the mandatory OHS training statistics. The August 2020 training statistics show that nationally, the percentage of untrained managers and employees has dropped to 1% since the last report in February 2020. A targeted message was sent to employees in June 2020 by the Leadership and Learning Directorate. A communiqué will also be sent out to all employees and managers in September 2020 reminding them to complete all mandatory OHS courses.
At a national level, the number of employees and managers trained in workplace violence prevention has remained relatively constant since September 2016. Overall, the percentage of untrained employees and managers remain at 1 percent since the last report in August 2020. Finally, the percentages of employees requiring re-training in workplace violence training has decreased by 5% following targeted communications sent in June 2020 by the National OHS Section.
Finances and Administration Branch (FAB)
Quarterly incident Report
Members received the report on threats, assault on CRA employees for the second quarter.
Dan Couture thanked the members and everyone involved for their support to help ensure that CRA employees remain healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also informed the members of the Mental Illness Awareness Week that will take place from October 4 to October 10, 2020. A national message will be shared shortly. He also welcomed Claude Corbin as a new member of the committee and thanked Tracy Marcotte and Andrea McKay for their contribution to the committee.
Doug Gaetz expressed his appreciation for the committees efforts and noted that he is looking forward to continuing the good work during pandemic and through the challenging times ahead. The next NHSPC meeting is scheduled for December 15, 2020.
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