Health and Safety Committee

Minutes of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee Meeting

February 12, 2002 and March 28, 2002

LOCATION: 8th Floor Board Room, 200 Laurier Ave. W.


Management Union
Dan Tucker (Co-Chair)
Stephen Rigby
Jocelyn Malo
Denis Lefebvre
Claude P. Tremblay
Jean Laronde
Leon Page (Committee Secretary)
Jaime Robinson (Observer)
Leslie Kathmann (Observer)
Betty Bannon (UTE) (Co-Chair)
Chris Aylward (UTE)
Serge Charette (CEUDA)
John King (CEUDA)
Martin Ranger (PIPSC)
Marilyn White (PIPSC)
Lina Ruel (UTE – Observer)
Jake Baizana (CEUDA – Observer)


The Management Co-chair welcomed everyone in attendance. As well, he noted the success of the two-day workshop to update the Work Place Committee Training Course that took place in January and stated that he was impressed by the commitment of the participants to health and safety. He reiterated Management’s commitment to health and safety and the need to address issues through the ad hoc process.

The Union Co-chair mentioned that the Terms of Reference had been approved by the Committee and stated that the Committee needed to be vigilant in respecting the timeframes identified in those Terms of Reference and that more timely decisions needed to be made. She proposed that specific Customs agenda issues be initially discussed on an ad hoc basis so that the issues could be more developed for a fuller discussion at the Committee level. Management agreed to consider a process for discussing the agenda items related to Customs. As well, the Union Co-chair mentioned the need to improve the communication of local health and safety situations at the national level.

At the beginning of the meeting, on March 28, 2002, the Committee acknowledged the draft Rules of Procedure that had been prepared to assist the Committee members to better communicate and work together. They were not intended to be part of the Terms of Reference. The Committee accepted the Rules of Procedure (see attached).


Management informed the Committee that a letter will be sent to other government departments co-located with the Agency, to ensure that an adequate communications protocol was in place and to underscore the importance of a common, consistent approach to security and emergency procedures. As well, a memorandum will be sent as a reminder of the importance of effective reporting and communications during emergencies, and the need to involve employees, work place committees, and co-located tenants. Further, a memo will be sent to all employees in recognition of their dedication and professionalism in the face of these challenging events and to inform them of the measures being implemented to further strengthen the security and emergency procedures. These documents would be shared with the Committee. The Union reminded Management that changes to the emergency procedures should first be discussed by this Committee, before being released.

The Union asked when the Committee would be receiving the audit report, related to the September 11th audit. Management said that it would need to verify when the report could be released and shared with this Committee.


While it was recognized that requests for unlisted telephone numbers had been addressed on a case-by-case basis, the Union believed that unlisted numbers should be provided automatically, as requested, as a preventative measure. Management stated that it preferred to maintain its current approach.

The Union questioned whether or not collectors and auditors could have identification badges rather than identification cards with their names. Management indicated that the privacy of auditors’ names was discussed at an AU Sub-Committee meeting on August 15, 2000, and at that time it was explained that Management did not have a legal basis to implement a policy protecting the anonymity of auditors. The name of an employee was not considered private under the Privacy Act and employees were required to identify themselves with appropriate CCRA identification. As a minimum, it was suggested that the employee’s name be placed on the back of the card, rather than the front. It was agreed that consideration would be given to where the name could be placed on the card.


The Union acknowledged that a specific case of an employee transporting negotiables without proper training was resolved. However, a bulletin should be issued stating that negotiables be transported by managerial exclusions or an appropriate security body. It was agreed that this proposal would be considered and discussed further at the next meeting.


Management gave an update on the issuance of vests. Vests had been provided to all Flexible Response Team members at land border, and would be provided to those at airports who were required to clear private aircraft or venture off-site. The job hazard analysis, which was to begin shortly, will explore this issue further.

The Union indicated that vests needed to be provided to all customs officers going into a non-sterile environment and considered the airport to be such an environment because travellers could access their baggage prior to reaching Customs Secondary. The Union raised the work refusal related to this issue, which occurred at the Pearson International Airport on January 2, 2002, and stated that it disagreed with Management waiting for the job hazard analysis to address the situation.

Management felt that sufficient interim measures were in place, as well as the increased screening procedures for airport travellers following September 11th. Management stated that a system was being put in place at airports that would identify information about travellers prior to their boarding a plane and arriving in Canada. This would allow Customs to communicate with the airline about certain travellers that would not be permitted into the country, upon arrival at the airport.


The training package was being updated and will include the feedback from the January workshop participants. A copy of the consensus feedback will be provided to the Committee and an overview of the training package will be provided at the next meeting.

It was agreed that all regions be reminded to continue the work place committee training with the current trainers until such time as the new course and trainers were available. As well, it was proposed that the regions identify their training schedule.

The Union co-chair pointed out that some of the workshop participants expressed an interest in becoming full-time trainers. Management acknowledged this interest and mentioned that a contract had not yet been awarded. It was agreed that consideration would be given to this option.


Management indicated that the policy on maintaining use-of-force skills had not yet been developed. The Union clarified that the issue was not only maintaining the skills but also achieving the desired level of skill. If physical fitness was going to become a job requirement, the Union stated that there should be mechanisms in place to help employees achieve the required level of fitness. The Union also mentioned that a number of employees, who have taken the training and were injured, had submitted WCB claims. Management will look into these injuries, take appropriate corrective action, and report back to the Committee.

The Union proposed that the training for current employees be voluntary or modified for those unable to safely complete the current course. As a minimum, they requested that time, space, and equipment be provided to these employees so that they could bring themselves up to a suitable physical condition to safely complete the course. Management will consider this proposal and subsequent discussion will take place. The Union asked about what would happen to those who did not succeed. Management stated that this type of issue should be referred to the Officers Powers Committee.

Management stated that an expert on physical standards had been engaged to determine if there was a legitimate basis to require physical demands, as the training has now been made mandatory for new recruits. The results of the expert’s study will be shared with the Committee.

The Union asked if Management would be replying to an e-mail, dated January 12, 2002, in which several questions were raised about the training. Management will look into this and provide a response.


As mentioned earlier, the study will be conducted by Janice Deakin, an expert in physical standards and bona fide occupational requirements. The review should be completed in June 2002. At that time, it will be shared with the Committee for discussion.


The contract for the job hazard analysis was awarded to Moduspec Risk Management Services Canada Limited and a final report will be available in August 2002.


Influenza immunization clinics may be sponsored by the Agency provided specific criteria were met. This would include a written contract with the service provider and employees completing a health assessment form and an acknowledgement and consent form. A draft memo, detailing all the specifics, was provided to the Committee for their review. Once feedback is received, the memo will be finalized for distribution to the field.


It was agreed that the various types of shift work, within the Agency, would be identified and shared with the Committee. In an effort to alleviate concerns related to potential shift work stressors, research would be done on best practices in other organizations with a view to identifying those that could be readily applied within the Agency.

The Union mentioned that it would like for Customs officers, who work shifts, to be able to retire earlier and proposed that the Committee consider adopting what is referred to as the “75 factor”, similar to that for the Correctional Officers, the RCMP, and the Police. While Management stated that pension issues were not within the mandate of the Committee, it was willing to consider best practices that could be applied to the regular management of shift work.


Management stated that while there still did not appear to be conclusive evidence that has been accepted by the Medical Community at large, related to environmental sensitivities, it was agreed that a working group should be established to review best practices of other departments and agencies (e.g. education/awareness posters) and prepare recommendations for the Policy Committee to consider. The Union will identify a representative to participate on the working group.


A copy of the accident reports was provided to the Committee at the November meeting. Recent modifications to the system will allow for more detailed reports. A more detailed analysis will be conducted during the summer and reported back to the Committee. As well, clarification will be provided on the various types of forms used to gather this information.


Further to a Committee member’s request at the last meeting for access to all documents relating to the health and safety of its members, such as accident reports, Use-of-Force reports, Employer’s Annual Report, etc., Management confirmed that it intended to provide information and reports to this Committee, in accordance with its legal interpretation of the Canada Labour Code, Part II (CLC, Part II). This meant that the Committee, as a whole, needed to identify what information it required and for what purpose.

Following some discussion, it was generally agreed that a process needed to be put in place immediately to ensure that all incidents will be accurately reported at the local level, that these reports be provided to the local work place committees (subject to certain acts such as the Customs Act and Privacy Act), and that a national roll-up be provided to the Committee at each meeting for consideration.

In response to concerns about Detax situations appearing to be handled on a case-by-case basis, it was agreed that an update on the various initiatives to address Detax would be provided at the next meeting.

The Union requested clarification on the reporting requirements related to the Employer’s Annual Report. This will be addressed at the next meeting.


A memo to all employees on dealing with threatening situations had been shared with the Committee members, prior to the meeting. Once feedback has been received, the memo will be finalized and distributed to the field.


The draft policy will be provided to the Committee for their consideration shortly.


The draft guidelines were being reviewed, based on the feedback provided by the Unions and other stakeholders. The guidelines will be provided to the Committee before the July meeting.


The study should be completed by July 2002, and will be shared with the Committee. In the interim, 550 to 600 new radios will be rolled out site-by-site.


Health Canada has approved the proposed procedures on the Respiratory Protection Program. Full implementation of the program was expected by June 2002. An update will be provided at the next meeting.


The procedures for fumigant testing were distributed in February 2002, and detection equipment was already in place. Training on the use of this equipment will be given during the Marine Examination course. The cold weather issue was corrected. However, a problem related to a new fumigant called “Vikane” has been identified and suitable equipment to test for it was being considered.


While this issue will be addressed through the job hazard analysis, it was noted that the firearms handling procedures were reissued across the country in November 200l. These procedures will be shared with this Committee and were not to be shared outside this forum. Customs Officers handling firearms were to be certified and they were never to purposely discharge a firearm. As well, 75 bullet traps have been purchased for installation at Customs locations. The Union contended that there should be a designated safe area at all locations where firearms may be subject to examination and registration, to protect the public and employees. This proposal will be considered and discussed at the next meeting.


Once the document on Tips for the Use of Laptops was updated, it would be shared with the Committee. Also, should Management receive a copy of the Auditor General report once it has been completed, a copy will be shared with the Committee.


Management was reviewing the Union feedback on the draft policy and guidelines and will provide a status update at the next meeting.


As discussed at the November meeting, an OSH web page will be created. Progress on this initiative will be provided at the July meeting.


The Union enquired about the status of a referral from the Work Place Committee at the Pearson International Airport, following a refusal to work on January 2, 2002. Management stated that there had been numerous discussions and correspondence between Management and HRDC. As a result, Management had provided HRDC with an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) outlining a number of interim measures that would be taken, pending the job hazard analysis. The Union stated that the referral covered other issues not addressed by the AVC. Management said that it would review the referral and get back to the Union.


The Co-chairs acknowledged the constructive dialogue on the various issues and noted that the next meeting was scheduled for May 7, 2002.

Original signed by
Dan Tucker
Management Co-chair
National Health and Safety Policy Committee
May 30, 2002

Original signed by
Betty Bannon
Union Co-chair
National Health and Safety Policy Committee
May 23, 2002



It is the philosophy of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee that consultation will occur in an environment that is based on mutual respect and trust. The object of this consultation is to optimize opportunities for both parties to address national health and safety issues through communication and co-operation. Union and management share a responsibility for adopting a consultative approach to their union/management interaction.


Management and the unions believe that an effective union/management relationship should be based on:

  • mutual respect and trust;
  • a commitment to be constructive, fair, sensitive, courteous and professional in their dealings with each other, and to appreciate different points of view;
  • equality of the parties within this consultation process and a recognition that both parties play an active and important role in the consultation process;
  • the need for frank and open discussion, while keeping to the subject matter at hand;
  • an ability to agree to disagree, and not to allow disagreements to delay or stop work on issues that are being, or will need to be, discussed;
  • the assurance that commitments will be honoured; and
  • the will to make constructive decisions and a requirement to resolve issues of concern at the lowest possible level.


In accordance with the Terms of Reference, each item placed on the agenda should be done so with sufficient advance notice and accompanied by supporting documentation, to allow the other party to conduct enough research to allow for meaningful discussion. Urgent items may be added at any time. However, full discussion may not be possible at the meeting, due to insufficient advance notice and preparation time.

Each agenda item should be discussed as follows:

  • the Committee member who raised the item should present his/her interests and views;
  • the other participants should have a chance to ask questions or make comments in a clear and succinct fashion, so that a frank and constructive exchange can take place;
  • all Committee members should contribute to proposing a solution;
  • the discussion/commitments should be summarized by the Co-chair; and
  • if further work is required, the Co-chairs will assign responsibilities with deadlines.


For successful meetings, every meeting shall:

  • begin on time;
  • follow the agenda and keep on track;
  • discuss one agenda item at a time; and
  • close the meeting on a positive note.
  • The following items will not be discussed:
  • issues being dealt with during the collective bargaining process;
  • grievances which are in the process of representation;
  • issues or individual cases where the grievance consultation process or the referral process should be used; and,
  • other matters for which there is a formal redress process (e.g. human rights complaints)