Employee Assistance Program

Minutes of the National EAP Advisory Committee

May 17, 2006

DATE: May 17, 2006 TIME: 0900h – 1330h

LOCATION: 99 Metcalfe – 2nd Floor Boardroom

Management

Claude Bourget (A/DG, SBMPS, HR Branch)
Jerry Travis (Audit Manager, Site Director, Sydney)

Union

John Benbow (PIPSC)
Jerry Dee (UTE)
Lina Ruel (UTE)
Linda Cassidy (UTE – Observer)
Hector Walters (UTE – Observer)

National EAP Office

Suzanne Gorley (Director)
Hélène Grandmaître (Senior EAP Advisor)
Carolyne Keseris (Senior EAP Advisor)
Judith St-Onge (minute taker of committee)

Labour Relations

Bonnie Lehman (Senior Labour Relations Advisor)

OPENING REMARKS

Management opened the meeting by welcoming members. Everyone was invited to introduce themselves. The Agenda was presented. The National EAP Office added one agenda item, as requested by UTE: National Committee membership is now item # 10.

1. Follow-up on commitments from last meeting

The National EAP Office reviewed the commitments made at the last meeting and the actions taken with respect to each.

As a follow-up to the expressed interest of having a modified UMI presentation at the National EAP Advisory committee meeting, the National EAP Office looked into such a possibility. We were informed that no modified courses are to be given and relayed the information to the committee members on February 23, 2006. Linda Cassidy (UTE) suggested that the committee look at the UMI action plan once the roll-out of the training is well under way, to assist the committee in working well together.

In response to the commitment to present an overview of the EAP Workshop for Union and Management, the National EAP Office will do so further on in today’s meeting.

The National EAP Office explained that the attempt to gather information on the EAP training provided in CRA as produced by CAS with role 20 determined that there were difficulties in doing so and will go into further detail later on in today’s meeting.

As agreed, the National EAP Office consulted with Staff Relations on section 9.0 of the Terms of Reference and provided the amended version to the unions on February 28, 2006.

The National EAP Office contacted Wayne Huskins and learned that the EAP information is included in the 2006 - 2007 braille version of the calendar he produces for visually impaired employees.

Following suggestions by the unions, the Strategic Orientation document and the document entitled ‘How CRA’s EAP can Support the Organization in Managing Continuous Change’, were reviewed with a view to clarifying the language to ensure the Program’s neutrality is maintained. It seems that the amended versions of these documents were not received and they will be re-sent to the unions by Labour Relations.

As promised, the new poster designs were shared with the unions for comment on January 26th, 2006. The National EAP Office offered to send copies of the new posters to Lina Ruel of UTE and John Benbow of PIPSC.

The National EAP Office forwarded copies of the June – September 2005 Pulse report (December 21st, 2005) and the October – December 2005 Pulse report (April 11, 2006).

Concerning the commitment by Management to raise the issue of service to retirees to the Commissioner, the subject will be addressed in greater detail further on in today’s meeting.

The National EAP Office shared the information obtained about the pre-retirement planning and preparation courses offered at CRA in an e-mail dated April 6, 2006.

Concerning the breakdown of successes by region in the Annual EAP Report, the National EAP Office informed the unions via e-mail that the information will be collected in that format for next year’s report.

The National EAP Office has informed the UTE of the dates of the Basic Course training offered in June 2006 and Hector Walters will be attending.

Labour Relations will forward the ‘Strategic Orientation’ document and the document entitled ‘How CRA’s EAP can Support the Organization in Managing Continuous Change’ to the unions.

The National EAP Office will send copies of the new posters to Lina Ruel of UTE and John Benbow of PIPSC.

2. Service to Retirees

The National EAP Office reported that the Commissioner was briefed on the issue of extending EAP services to retirees. The proposal was not accepted. It was decided that the limited EAP resources should remain focused on employees in the workplace.

PIPSC expressed disappointment at the outcome and indicated that PIPSC may wish to pursue the issue further. It is their view that such an initiative would be well aligned with the Agency 2010 vision of CRA and have a significant impact on the few individuals requiring such a service while impacting marginally on EAP resources or costs. The PIPSC representative indicated that the issue would be referred back to the PIPSC National Executive.

3. Union-Management Workshop

The National EAP Office provided an overview of the workshop. Members had previously been provided with the course material. Accompanying documents were distributed during the meeting. The National EAP Office indicated that the workshop would be updated in the coming year to make it more current and to reflect the new context of the departure of the Customs component of the Agency. Committee members were invited to provide comments or suggestions. Everyone agreed the course is of very high quality. PIPSC and UTE members expressed their concern that the course may not be offered often enough in certain regions. Various suggestions were made. These included:

  • Adding a case study on call centres
  • Using it to support managers in dealing with the on-going transition impacts
  • Increasing the frequency of its delivery
  • Adapting some of the tools for the National EAP Website
  • Increasing the promotion of the product through links in MG Corner, MGLP training, Learning coordinators

Committee members were asked to provide any further feedback on the course by June 15.

The National EAP Office will update the Union-management workshop by the 3rd quarter of this fiscal year.

Union members will provide any further comments on the workshop to the National EAP Office by June 15.

4. Update from National EAP Office

1) Filekeeping:

The National EAP Office presented the ‘Filekeeping’ document, previously distributed to the unions. The document is the final outcome of the 1999 EAP review recommendation to standardize the filekeeping process of the coordinator-counsellors. Rose Norman of the former SORO region had previously worked on this initiative. It was indicated that the document was in the process of being reviewed by the Access to Information section. Members were invited to provide comments.

Everyone agreed that the document was of excellent quality. The PIPSC representative raised questions about the possible use of these guidelines for the external contractors. The National EAP Office explained the guidelines are for the internal resources. There was a discussion on the auditing of files and the need for sensitivity around this activity to avoid the perception of lack of confidentiality. The National EAP office will review how the issue is addressed in the Clinical Supervision guidelines and/or in the SOW/contracts for external service providers.

UTE requested a clarification in the wording ‘employee file’ in the document. The expression will be changed to ’EAP client file’. PIPSC made a suggestion to remove the circle or the number in the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire.

Committee members were asked to provide any further feedback on the document by June 15.

2) Infokit:

The National EAP Office presented a brief description of the Infokit, a tool for local EAP committee members. The purpose of this tool as well as the history behind the updates were also presented.

The revisions to the Infokit are the product of a workshop held with local EAP committee members in the Atlantic region. The outcome is twofold: a new chapter entitled ‘Tips for Effective Meetings’ was created and the ‘Promotion’ chapter was modified to include a planning tool and process guidelines.

Members felt the documents were well written and would be useful.

Committee members were asked to provide the National EAP Office with any further feedback on the course by June 15.

3) Upcoming activities:

The National EAP Office shared information on upcoming activities:

  • The National EAP Business meeting will be held in Calgary the week of June 19th. It will include a workshop entitled ‘Tools for Training’ given by the University of Calgary.
  • The planning for the 2007 EAP planner has started.
  • The workshops on ‘Leading and Managing Change’ and ‘Mental Health in the Workplace’, piloted and adapted with manager and union involvement, are being delivered and are well received. An overview of the Mental Health workshop was presented at the Federal Workplace Wellbeing Network where it was recognized as a best practice.
  • Website: We are planning to review and update the website. It would include increasing links to other sites, including the Manager’s corner. Unions will be consulted. Members recommended that we make the site as interactive as possible.
  • EAP Assessment: The National EAP Office is considering doing a review of the Program to assess where we are presently and whether we are well positioned to meet the needs of the future. The last formal evaluation was in 1999 and it seems timely to look at the Program in light of Agency 2010. The process is in its planning stage. Unions will be consulted as this process takes shape. Everyone agreed the assessment was timely.

The National EAP Office will review the Clinical Supervision guidelines and the SOW/contracts for external service providers to determine how they address the issue of EAP file auditing.

Union members will provide any further feedback on both the ‘Filekeeping’ and the ‘Infokit’ documents by June 15.

5. Statistics

The National EAP Office presented the 2005-2006 Statistics for the 1st and 2nd quarter. The 1st two quarters of 2004-2005 were also looked at for reference.

Key points were:

  • slight increase in the utilization rate from 6.1% to 6.44%
  • the utilization rate went up for all access points
  • the number of family members accessing EAP services went up: 222 to 308
  • there was an important increase in the number of employees accessing EAP for information only
  • the 3 main types of issues for accessing EAP remained the same: Family/Marital , Emotional and Work
  • twice as many employees consulted internal resources (CC’s and RA’s) for work-related issues as opposed to external resources (Contractors). This continues the trend of previous years • access to RA’s increased
  • increase seen in coordinator-counsellor advisory services to managers • number of orientation sessions doubled, same for number of participants
  • training sessions offered more than doubled: many of these were on change management and some on mental health in the workplace

UTE pointed out that there is a discrepancy between the total number of cases and the total number of issues in the contractor statistics. The difference will be looked into for clarification. The National EAP Office stated that the full report would be forwarded as soon as it is available.

PIPSC suggested that the number of ‘no shows’ be captured in the contractors’ data. This would let us know if ‘no shows’ are a problem and are costing the program too much. Rose Norman, one of the Coordinator-counsellors in the Ontario Region noticed that this was an issue in London, and at her suggestion, the Committee took steps to address the issue. With the local contractor. This initiative led to a decrease in no shows with no impact on the utilization rate. It was pointed out that there is a need to demonstrate sensitivity in these processes in order not to discourage employees from seeking assistance.

The National EAP Office will:

  • look into the discrepancy in the contractors’ total number of cases and total number of issues and make the necessary corrections;
  • forward the 2005-2006 yearly statistics report as soon as it is available; and
  • consider adding on the contractors’ statistics form ‘no show’ data.

Union members will provide any further comments on the statistical forms to the National EAP Office by June 15.

6. CAS ROLE 20

The National EAP Office explained that in looking at the information gathered by CAS role 20 for EAP activities, it was found that the data was incomplete and unreliable. Several steps are being taken to correct the situation. New national CAS codes for EAP learning activities have been created and issued to the field. In order to increase the reliability of the data, guidelines will be developed and distributed outlining steps and options to encourage systematic and appropriate entry of the data in all regions.

It was also suggested that information on CAS role 20 be included in the promotional chapter of the Infokit.

The National EAP Office will include information on CAS role 20 in the promotional chapter of the Infokit.

The National EAP Office will develop and distribute guidelines on steps and options to encourage systematic and appropriate entry of the data in CAS role 20.

7. MANAGERS AS RA’S

Since UTE has raised in two regions their concerns about some Referral Agents also being managers, the National EAP Office invited them to explain these concerns.

UTE stated that in their opinion, the role of referral agent is in conflict with the role of a manager. They believe that a manager cannot play both roles and asked management to adopt a position that would see managers not being allowed to become referral agents, similar to their policy that Union Representatives cannot act as referral agents.

The National EAP Office explained that the issue of potential conflict is explored during the Basic Course for RAs, and that referral agents who are managers are advised not act as referral agents for their own staff, to avoid any potential conflict of interest. Managers can, however, act as a referral agent with other employees or other managers. It was also noted that there have always been referral agents who are managers in the Program, without negative repercussions.

UTE expressed their concern that, if managers are allowed to act as RAs, this will have negative repercussions on the EAP and the Union-Management Initiative (UMI). RAs are not supposed to intervene and can only refer to someone else, while with UMI, managers will be expected to intervene and help resolve conflict. In UTE’s opinion, this will put the manager who is a referral agent in a conflict between the two roles, and it will have negative repercussions on both programs, regardless of how the manager decides to act.

Management expressed their view that while UMI is a fairly new initiative, conflict resolution has always been part of a manager’s many roles; however, it is not their substantive role, as in the case of ADRAs. Management was of the opinion that being a referral agent would not prevent a manager from performing their duties as manager.

The PIPSC representative expressed his concern that he had not been sufficiently informed about the background of the issue prior to the meeting and that he needed to consult with the PIPSC National Executive before responding.

The National EAP Office indicated that they would be reluctant to ask the current RAs who are managers to step down from their position since they are doing an excellent job and are an asset to the Program. The National EAP Office indicated that they were prepared to keep a close watch on the situation so as to be able to intervene quickly should any issue arise. They also mentioned that this issue could be reviewed further as part of the program assessment being considered for the near future. UTE indicated that they would raise the issue with the National UMI Steering Committee.

The National EAP Office informed members that they had received several calls from the field regarding comments made by UTE presidents on the referral agent network. It appears that some referral agents have been told that the network would soon be eliminated. As well, the National EAP Office has learned that similar comments were made to a colleague in another federal department at a recent EAP event. The National EAP Office felt that these comments were inappropriate and showed a lack of respect for the referral agents who are committed individuals, performing a much appreciated role as evidenced by the statistical information on hand.

UTE indicated that these reported comments did not reflect their position on referral agents. They stated that while they do not recommend the use of RAs by their members, they fully support CRA’s EAP, which is a tri-faceted model. They stated that they believe that the referral agent component of the Program is well entrenched in CRA and is here to stay. It is their intention to review their position on RAs by consulting their representatives on local EAP committees at their November 2006 EAP conference.

8. BEST PRACTICES

The National EAP Office shared the following best practices:

  • Many of the national products developed by the EAP committees, Mental Health in the Workplace, Learning and Managing Change, Managing Suicidal Calls, have been very well received. Mental Health in the Workplace was shown to other departments who recognized it as a best practice and have shown an interest in having it delivered in their organizations.
  • During National Volunteer Week, the National EAP Office took the opportunity to recognize and thank Referral Agents and EAP Committee members for their invaluable contribution to the Program and the Agency.

Management invited committee members to provide their input.

UTE mentioned:

  • their invitation to the EAP coordinator-counsellors to lead training sessions during UTE’s EAP Conference ‘Changing Times, Changing Needs’ being held from November 23rd to 26th, 2006.
  • the Atlantic Wellness Challenge between union and management with local and regional teams.

PIPSC mentioned:

  • the efficiency generated by the ‘No-show initiative’ mentioned previously
  • the regional EAP conferences held in 2005-2006

9. Letters of Thanks

Members signed letters prepared by the National EAP Office to departing members, thanking them for their contribution to the committee and to the success of the Program.

10. National EAP Committee Membership

A discussion was held on the subject of committee membership, in light of the fact that CEUDA is no longer a member of the committee. UTE felt that PSAC has therefore lost a seat. Various options were discussed. Management and the National EAP Office recommended that the membership review be dealt with within the anticipated assessment of the Program.

The National EAP Office will look further into the membership of the National Committee during the program assessment.

11. Closing Remarks

Members agreed that the meeting had been most productive. The date for the next meeting was tentatively scheduled for Nov. 2, 2006.


SUMMARY OF COMITTMENTS

  To Be Actioned By
1. Labour Relations will forward the ‘Strategic Orientation’ document and the document entitled ‘How CRA’s EAP can Support the Organization in Managing Continuous Change’ to the unions. Labour Relations
2. The National EAP Office will send copies of the new posters to Lina Ruel of UTE and John Benbow of PIPSC. National EAP Office
3. The National EAP Office will update the Union-management workshop by the 3rd quarter of next fiscal. National EAP Office
4. Union members will provide any further comments on the workshop to the National EAP Office by June 15. Unions
5. The National EAP Office will review the Clinical Supervision guidelines and the SOW/contracts for external service providers to determine how they address the issue of EAP file auditing. National EAP Office
6. Union members will provide any further feedback on both the ‘Filekeeping’ and the ‘Infokit’ documents by June 15. Unions
7. The National EAP Office will look into the discrepancy in contractors’ total number of cases and total number of issues. National EAP Office
8. The National EAP Office will forward the 2005-2006 yearly statistics report as soon as it is available National EAP Office
9. The National EAP Office will consider adding on the contractors’ statistics form ‘no show’ data. National EAP Office
10. Union members will provide any further comments on the statistical forms to the National EAP Office by June 15.  
11. The National EAP Office will include information on CAS role 20 in the promotional chapter of the Infokit. National EAP Office
12. The National EAP Office will develop and distribute guidelines on steps and options to encourage systematic and appropriate entry of the data in CAS role 20. National EAP Office
13. The National EAP Office will look further into the membership of the National Committee during the program assessment. National EAP Office

Approved by John Benbow, PIPSC representative on June 12th, 2006

Approved by Claude Bourget, A/DG, SBMPS, HR Branch on June 12th, 2006

Approved by Jerry Dee, UTE representative on June 13th, 2006