Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee (NHSPC) Meeting

July 5, 2022

DATE:

July 5, 2022 

TIME: 9:00 a.m. 

LOCATION:

Microsoft Teams Meeting

ATTENDEES:

Employer Representatives

Employee Representatives

Members

Sonia Côté
(Employer Co-Chair)
Claude Corbin
Harry Gill
Nick Gualtieri
Deirdra Finn

Doug Gaetz (UTE)
(Employee Co-Chair)
Allaudin Alibhai (AFS) 
Brian Oldford (UTE) 
Alnashir Ravjiani (AFS) 
Jennifer MacPherson (UTE)

Guests/Observers 

Frank Davoudi
Nandini Srikantiah
Jean-François Gagné
Jeremy Hebert

Mathieu Juneau
Absent Philippe Blanchette  
Secretary David Walsh   

This meeting was chaired by the Employer Co-Chair, Sonia Côté.         

OPENING REMARKS

The Employer Co-Chair began by introducing herself to the committee as the new Assistant Commissioner of the Human Resources Branch and Chief Human Resources Officer. Ms. Côté took a moment to welcome the members, guests and observers and to recognize Dan Couture’s leadership on the committee. She also welcomed Deirdra Finn and Philippe Blanchette as new members of the committee.

The Employee Co-Chair, Doug Gaetz welcomed the new Employer Co-Chair to the committee and thanked the members for their contribution over the last several years, and in particular during the pandemic. Mr. Gaetz also thanked Dan Couture for his efforts and welcomed the new members to the committee.

Members were updated on the timing of the first stages of the CRA transition plan and were given an overview of the latest Public Service Occupational Health Program (PSOHP) guidance following the suspension of vaccine mandates for the federal public service effective June 20, 2022. Mr. Gaetz took the opportunity to highlight that members agreed to reduce the frequency of COVID confirmed case reporting over the summer months and would review the overall approach in September.

REVIEW OF DOCUMENTS

NHSPC Meeting Minutes – March 24, 2022

Members approved the March 24, 2022, minutes.    

Action Item Report

No new action items were identified at the last meeting in March 2022, resulting in a nil report for the July 2022 meeting. 

Forward Agenda

The draft forward agenda for 2022 was reviewed and approved by the members.

OHS Communication Plan

The Employee Co-Chair requested that future correspondence related to the National Day of Mourning be sent from the co-chairs of the NHSPC as an all-staff message as a way recognizing the importance of the day. Management agreed to review the approach moving forward.  

The Employee Co-Chair requested an update on the timing of the OHS newsletter. It was confirmed that next edition is planned for release in the fall.

UPDATE FROM THE HUMAN RESOURCES BRANCH (HRB) - OHS PROGRAM 

COVID-19 Pandemic and CRA Vaccination

Members were provided with an update on the suspension of the Policy on COVID-19 vaccination as well as the revised occupational health advisory released on May 16, 2022, by the Public Service Occupational Health Program. As per the latest guidance, which has been implemented by the CRA, employees may remove their medical masks when they can consistently maintain physical distancing in a stationary setting, such as while seated or standing in a workstation or meeting. Employees must also continue to wear a medical mask at all times for 14 days after they have been in close contact with a case of COVID-19 or when working with clients, taxpayers, visitors or members of the public. It was noted that full details on the updated procedures for masks, isolation periods, and other guidance has been posted on InfoZone.

The Employee Co-Chair raised concerns from the field around the timing and clarity of communications related the changes to the COVID protocols which has led to some confusion. He noted a need for clear, consistent messaging moving forward. Management acknowledged the concerns and noted that clarifications had been issued where necessary and that the existing InfoZone content had been updated. It was also noted that a national communication was being developed to highlight the changes.

Workplace Harassment Violence Prevention (WHVP)

Members were provided with an overview of the work done since the last meeting by the workplace violence and harassment prevention working group. In April 2022, the NHSPC working group reviewed the proposed adjustments to the workplace assessment as well as the process for communicating the selection of an investigator from the jointly established list. It was agreed that parties would be given the opportunity to receive a summary of the investigator’s qualifications upon request.

Members were also informed that the new training module on harassment and violence was launched on March 25, 2022. Employees are required to complete the course by  July 1, 2022. It was also noted that development on the new in-house CRA training has begun.

Following the discussion at the March 22, 2022, NHSPC meeting, management agreed that the committee would be provided with unsuppressed data related to the harassment and violence resolution process outlined in the Workplace Harassment and Violence Prevention and Resolution Procedures. It was agreed that the unsuppressed data will be shared with NHSPC members for the purposes related to section 134.1(5) as part of the written update. Committee members are expected to keep this information confidential and not to use this information for any other purposes.

Following a review of the data, the employee representatives questioned whether meeting timelines for completion of cases was an issue. Management confirmed that they will continue to monitor trends as cases evolve and will share any relevant trends with the committee.

Psychological Health and Safety (PHS)

Members were updated on the Psychological Health and Safety Working Group meeting of May 12, 2022. At that meeting, the National Occupational Health and Safety Section presented a review of the previous action plan and Public Service Employee Survey results, as well as a proposed model for use moving forward. The model would be focused on the diverse drivers/factors impacting the psychological health and safety of employees, and the activity and outcomes attached to those drivers. The goal is to review how the Agency’s programs are working collaboratively to address psychological health and safety in the workplace.

Members were also informed that the Learning and Well-being (LWB) Working Group finalized their review of key tools and resources to support employees who will continue to work virtually and/or in a hybrid model. A draft product will be shared with the Well-being National Advisory Committee (WB-NAC) in the fall. The employee co-chair requested that the product also be shared with the NHSPC.

UPDATE FROM THE FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION BRANCH (FAB) 

CRA Transition Plan

The committee was provided with an overview of the progress of the CRA Transition Plan. Management confirmed that preparations are underway for the Agency to move to the preliminary Phase on July 18, 2022 and Phase 1 on September 12, 2022, as announced. Management noted that the Agency would continue to assess the COVID-19 situation as it evolves and will continue to consult the national unions moving forward.

WRITTEN UPDATES

Members received the following written updates in advance of the meeting. 

OHS Program

Multiple Environment Job Hazard Analysis (MEJHA) Working Group

No new actions were undertaken by the MEJHA during this period.

Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) for Field Employees Working Group

Field work has yet to resume other than in critical situations.

Respiratory Protection Program

The Respiratory Protection Program (RPP) documents, including the Respiratory Protection Standard Operating Procedures and the applicable Safe Work Procedures, are in the publishing process.

Procurement is finalizing a one-year directed contract to provide equipment, training and fit testing for the program.

Ergonomics Program 

Roll-out of the new ergonomics coach refresher training, which includes a component on conducting virtual assessments began during the week of May 16. To date, 11 sessions have been delivered and approximately 85% of coaches have registered and attended a session. Sessions will resume in the fall.

Committee members were also provided with an update on the number of virtual ergonomics adjustments and awareness session completed from March 1, 2022, to May 31, 2022.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) - Assurances of Voluntary  Compliance (AVC) and Directions

Members were informed that since the last meeting in March 2022, there were no ESDC visits at CRA locations.

OHS Training Report

As of May 2022, the percentage of untrained employees has decreased to 3% and the percentage of untrained managers has decreased to 14%. 93% of CRA employees have completed the COVID-19 Health and Safety at the Workplace training. 86% of employees have completed the mandatory Harassment and Violence training. Statistics related to the new harassment and violence add-on training will be presented at the next meeting as an issue was reported with the data capture.

Health and Safety Committee (HSC) Effectiveness

HSC Training

An information session was held on April 7, 2022, with current trainers and the OHS officers. Pilot sessions were held on June 20 to 23, 2022, in the Western Region, and July 5 to 8, 2022, in Ontario Region. Pilot sessions are also being planned for HQ and Atlantic Regions. Employee representative trainers were not available for the Ontario session, and chose to be observers in the Western region. Full training is planned to roll out in the fall.

HSC and Health and Safety Representative (HSR) Scorecards 

Members were provided with the statistics on investigations and monthly meeting requirements for Quarter one. A communication was sent in May to advise committees and representatives that they are to hold their monthly meetings even if their workplace is unoccupied, as required by law, and monthly inspections are to be conducted if their building was occupied by CRA employees.

Incident Reporting and Disability Management System (IRDMS)

Based on feedback received from users and agents, the National OHS Program, in collaboration with Labour Relations and Early Intervention/Return to Work, have updated the initial scenario picker questions in IRDMS. These questions are key to ensuring IRDMS cases are being directed and reported correctly. Users noted confusion with the current questions. Clarifications were made and a draft copy of the proposed changes were presented to the MG Network to test and provide feedback. Feedback was received from 48 testers on May 27, 2022. Suggestions from the MG Network are currently being reviewed and incorporated into the final changes. The final versions of the updated questions are expected to be completed and translated and sent to IT by the end of June.

Further enhancements to IRDMS are being identified and changes made to the system to improve use. Release 1.04 was launched on March 17, 2022. Release 1.05 was launched on May 25, 2022.   

First aid and Automated External Defibrillators (AED)

The Workplace Health and Safety Operation team sent a communication in June to first aid AED coordinators for the replacement of expiring batteries and pads on June 15, 2022. Expired components will be replaced in the coming months and should be completed by early Fall 2022.

Workplace Harassment and Violence

Members were provided with a summary of the notices of occurrence received under the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations as well as incidents of workplace violence received under Part XX.

FAB

Airborne Asbestos Fibre Testing

The members were provided with an update on the listing of CRA sites known to contain asbestos containing materials (ACM) and the national Airborne Asbestos Fibre Testing (AAFT) initiative. FAB representatives noted that a review of the results of the most recent testing cycle showed no areas of concern. Following consultations with the employee representatives on the future approach to testing, the committee agreed to support a recommendation to test 1/3 of sites known to contain ACM every year going forward.

COVID-19 CRA National Worksite Protocol

Members were provided with an update on the number of occupied sites. Management noted that as occupancy in sites can fluctuate from day to day, reporting on the number of occupied and un-occupied sites may vary depending on the day the data is collected.

The employee representatives requested information related to the Agency’s national real property plan. It was agreed that the conversation would be continued outside of the NHSPC.

Following the Commissioner’s message on May 9, 2022, introducing a new preliminary phase, both national guidance documents, the National Worksite Protocol and Building Worksite Plan, were updated in consultation with union members to align with the transition plan. Management confirmed that the National Worksite Protocol and Building Worksite Plans will continue to be updated as the Agency progresses through the transition plan. Building worksite plans and readiness checklists for the subsequent phases of the Agency Transition plan will continue to be built in consultation with stakeholders, including the NHSPC.

SECURITY

Quarterly Incident Report  

Members reviewed the report on threats and assaults against CRA employees for January – March 2022 (Q4). Members discussed the role of police services when threats are received as well as the actions taken related to individual cases included in the report. The employee representatives also suggested that the approach for reporting on demonstrations be reviewed to ensure the impact to Agency operations is accurately reflected.

The employee representatives also asked that a summary of the number of threat indicators be provided to the committee at a regular interval. Management agreed to consider the request.

Fire and Emergency Exercises

Members were given a compliance summary of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) emergency exercise requirements for CRA occupied buildings for 2021-2022.

The results for fiscal year 2021 to 2022 were impacted due the pandemic and the reduced number of employees reporting to the workplace. Based on guidance from the Treasury Board, and given the impact of the pandemic, local management and stakeholders were provided with the flexibility to use a risk-based approach when deciding on the number and timing of exercises to be conducted. Furthermore, property managers and LSMEEs in many buildings decided to postpone the annual fire drill due to the public health guidelines put in place as a result of the pandemic.

Overall, 100% of CRA occupied buildings had an approved emergency response plan and fire safety plan and 100% of buildings with more than 50 employees on-site completed their annual fire drill.

The employee co-chair raised their opposition to represented managers being asked to take on the responsibilities of the Lead Senior Manager for Emergencies and Evacuations in the field. Management expressed a need for flexibility to ensure that appropriate coverage exists with less employees and managers currently physically on-site. Both parties agreed that ongoing consultation will be important as the transition plan moves forward and more employees are on-boarded. The employee co-chair also questioned the Agency’s ability to meet its requirement to meet first aid coverage requirements. Management agreed that it will be important to monitor the issue closely moving forward. It was also noted that a national communication is planned to solicit volunteers.

Round Table

The employee co-chair recommended the removal of the round table from future meetings. Members agreed with the recommendation.

CLOSING REMARKS

Mr. Gaetz thanked everyone for their participation and their continued hard work on the health and safety file. He noted that he appreciated the committee’s collaborative approach and welcomed the possibility of meeting in-person in the near future.

Ms. Côté closed the meeting by thanking members for their work on the various initiatives underway and wished members a restful summer.

The next NHSPC meeting is scheduled for September 12, 2022.

Sonia Côté's signature   Doug Gaetz's signature

Sonia Côté 
Employer Co- Chair
National Health and Safety Policy Committee

Doug Gaetz
Employee Co-Chair
National Health and Safety
Policy Committee

Date: November 14, 2022

Date: November 15, 2022