Equal Opportunities Committee

Minutes of the Equal Opportunities (EO) Committee

March 2 -– 3, 2002

In attendance:

Linda Cassidy (chairperson)
Terry Dupuis
Darlene Bembridge
Michel Cimon
Ken Long
Gerard Ennis
Lan Cheu Lee
Chantale Thériault
Lina Ruel

Terms of Reference for Local EE / Diversity Committee

The above-mentioned terms of reference were prepared a few years ago. At our previous meeting it was agreed that we would revise the document to be more practical and to give better direction to the locals. The revised version will now be known as “Guidelines for Developing Terms of Reference for Local and Regional Employment Equity / Diversity Committees. A copy of the revised Terms of reference is attached.

Copies will be sent to all the locals encouraging them to form joint Employment Equity / Diversity committees in their workplace.

Resolutions adopted at the National Equal Opportunities conference to be forwarded to the UTE Triennial Convention

A copy of the resolutions adopted at the conference was distributed. Members of the committee are to verify the document with their own personal notes taken during the debate at the conference and report back to Lina any omission or oversight.

CCRA Employment Equity Annual Report

The committee reviewed the annual report for 2000-2001. We would need further clarification and explanation on some of the data and activities reported. For example, it would be interesting to have the breakdown between indeterminate and term employees over three months in the representation within the CCRA. We will try to schedule a meeting with the Director of the Employment Equity section in June when we hold our next committee meeting.

Employment Equity Survey – Local Activities

This survey was given to all the participants at our National Equal Opportunities conference in Ottawa last November. Fifty eight (58) participants from 32 locals completed the questionnaire.

A similar questionnaire had been completed by all of the locals last March. Our objective was to assess whether there had been any improvement in communication with the employees and the creation of local Employment Equity committees at the local level since the last survey.

A summary comparison was done between the questionnaires completed in March 2001 and the November questionnaires. The results will be sent out to all the locals along with a list of the locals who completed their questionnaire at the Equal Opportunities conference.

Employment Systems Review

As a follow up from our previous meeting, we examined the ESR report on the staffing directives (prepared in January 2000). None of the recommendations made by the ESR group were taken into consideration when drafting the final version. The staffing directives in force at the moment do not reflect any of the changes proposed. We will discuss this concern with the Director of Employment Equity at our June meeting.

Although ESR is required only if there is an under - representation of certain designated groups (s. 8 of the regulations) and CCRA is showing no under - representation at the national level, there are gaps for certain groups at the regional level. The absence of under - representation does not mean that there are no policies or practices in place that have negative consequences for designated group members, or that appropriate individual accommodations have been made.

PSAC Conferences 2002

PSAC had to postpone all their conferences to 2002 because of the uncertainty of the negotiations being held in 2001. As a result, the “Access conference”, the “Women Conference” and the Unity Conference” are being held in 2002. In addition, the PSAC National Health and Safety conference is being held in March.

In accordance with UTE regulation 14, we usually help subsidize some of our members to attend these conferences. The monies assigned to the line item ($10,000) for “non-UTE events” has been used totally for the Health and Safety conference. We will have no money to subsidize any of our members to attend the above mentioned conferences. A discussion took place and the committee supports the $10,000 limit and will not request additional money. It is also our position that PSAC, the organizer of these conferences, should be paying for the participants to attend (not Components).

Members of our committee representing designated groups will be attending these conferences as representatives of UTE.

Language Training (denial of) could be a Barrier

Chantale explained to the group that in the national linguistic training plan, language training for employees who occupy unilingual positions is the last priority. This means that in most years, there is no money available to provide, in this case, English training.

She has prepared a business case to show that if funding is not forthcoming, there is a risk of an eventual loss of language competency, with negative repercussions on career progression, through transfers or promotions, for the designated groups. The regional workforce analysis results indicate under-representation at the EEOG 02, 03, 05 and 07 levels. It could also reduce the Quebec City office flexibility in allocating or recovering workloads which could have an impact on the retention of designated group members.

This business case was presented at the Regional Employment Equity committee meeting. Chantale is of the opinion that it is going to be ignored. The Regional Vice President is also presenting the case at his regional union-management meeting. If the regional management is not ready to provide funds for language training, we will prepare a letter for the national level (Elaine Courtney) indicating that the policy on language training is a barrier to members of designated groups and that an employment systems review of the policy should have exposed this systemic discrimination.

Adjudicability of Grievances Related to Human Rights Issues

The committee was informed of a recent Supreme Court decision (Mohammed) which ruled that there is no possible access to the PSSRA grievance / adjudication procedure of issues dealing in whole or in part with human rights without first having filed a Canadian Human Rights complaint and receiving a section 41 (1) direction from the CHRC.

The PSAC regards this as unacceptable and are pressing for legislative changes.

CCRA Employment Equity Policy and Guidelines (draft)

The documents are quite comprehensive. Some of the information is not necessarily available as suggested. For instance, the policy refers to the self identifying form and other Employment Equity and Diversity references being on the info zone. The Info Zone is not friendly and a large number of our members do not have the access or the time to access the Web.

CCRA Guideline on Accommodation for Designated Group Members

Our comments were sent to the Employer. We have serious concerns with the Guideline being centered too much on the EEA. The duty to accommodate is a legal obligation under the CHR legislation and case law such as the Meorin and Grismer decisions affirm a number of important principles that both unions and the employers must respect. In the recourse mechanism, there is no reference to the employees’ right to file a Canadian Human Rights complaint or file a grievance if accommodation is not being provided. This is not acceptable and is even misleading in letting employees believe that their only recourse is the dispute resolution and mediation process. We also question whether the role of the union should be part of a CCRA policy and why to policy would apply only to members of designated groups.

Accommodation

We recognize that some local offices are quite accommodating in special circumstances not necessarily covered in collective agreements and policies. Examples discussed were allowing leave with pay to visually impaired employees when their seeing - eye dog is sick and allowing time with pay to an employee to have his wheel chair repaired.

These good practices should be shared with other workplaces. We will discuss this topic at the national EE consultation and ask that a memo be sent to all the locals.

CCRA Employment Equity Audit – Canadian Human Rights Commission

We have been advised that CCRA has received a notification that CHRC will initiate their audit of CCRA Employment Equity program. The first step is a survey questionnaire based on the 12 legislative requirements of the EEA. They had to provide a response by the end of February. We will ask for a copy of their responses.

The next phase will consist of the CHRC analyzing the information provided, identifying issues requiring further analysis. This will be followed by on-site visits including consultation with the unions.

Human Rights at Work

The Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA) is holding a conference from May 26-27, 2002 . The conference workshops on topics such as:

  • Promoting Diverse Workplaces
  • Mediating Human Rights Disputes
  • Age Discrimination
  • Same-sex partners- employee benefits
  • Accommodation Persons with Disabilities
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing

Linda will ask if Terry, Darlene, Gerard, Lina could attend this conference.

Accessibility at the Crowne Plaza

It is our understanding that the PSAC is still boycotting the Crowne Plaza Hotel. The committee reviewed the PSAC report on this issue. We find the Crowne Plaza to be quite accessible in comparison to other hotels and that it meets our requirements. The PSAC is holding the Access conference at the Delta Chelsea in Toronto, in our opinion, that hotel is less accessible and certainly more confusing than the Crowne Plaza .

Islamic Religion

Terry informed the group that a very interesting and informative speaker was invited to address the employees at the Saskatoon office on the belief and practices of the Islamic religion. We noted his coordinates for future references.

Updates

Linda provided a briefing on

  • PSAC Equal Opportunities Committee meeting held in February
  • Negotiations
  • ACS standards ( CHRC has not reviewed our concerns)
  • Investment Loans ( to be discussed at Council)

Next meeting

Will be prior or after the next Executive Council meeting.