Well-Being Committee

Minutes of the National EAP Advisory Committee

November 3, 2005

DATE: November 3, 2005 TIME: 0900h – 1330h

LOCATION: 99 Metcalfe – 2nd Floor Boardroom

Management Union

Sheila McGinn (A/DG, SBMPS, HR Branch)
Suzanne Gorley (National EAP Office)
Hélène Grandmaître (National EAP Office)
Bonnie Lehman (Staff Relations)

John Benbow (PIPSC)
Jerry Dee (UTE)
Lina Ruel (UTE)
George Scott (CEUDA)
Laurel Randle (CEUDA)
Linda Cassidy (UTE – Observer)
Hector Walters (UTE – Observer)

OPENING REMARKS

Management opened the meeting by welcoming members and inviting everyone to introduce themselves and speak about their experience with EAP.  It was apparent from members’ introductions that there is a lot of experience around the table and much support for our excellent program.

1. Recognition of Diana Gee’s Contribution

The National EAP Office offered condolences to the UTE members for the tragic loss of Diana Gee.  It was noted that Diana joined the committee as a UTE observer in October 2002.  Throughout the years, her input and contribution to the discussions were always positive, with a view to enhancing the Program and ensuring it provided excellent service to employees.  She will be remembered as a valuable contributor to the Program and she will be missed at this table.

UTE mentioned the support they received from the EAP coordinator-counsellors in the Atlantic region at the time of Diana’s death and indicated that it had been very helpful and most appreciated.

2. Union-Management Initiative (UMI)

In light of the planned roll-out of the Union-Management Initiative (UMI), management invited Jan Link, Director of the Office of Dispute Management (ODM), and Linda Cassidy, UTE observer on the committee and UMI trainer, to speak to the group about this initiative. 

Jan gave members some background about UMI and spoke about the philosophy on which it is based:

  • Equality of partners in the consultation process;
  • Mutual trust;
  • Respectful dealings;
  • Constructive decision-making and problem resolution at the lowest level; and
  • Mutual knowledge and respect of legislation and collective agreements.

She mentioned that the Terms of Reference for this committee are a good example of a positive union/management consultation process.  She gave the committee an overview of the national strategy for the roll-out and explained the secretariat role that the ODM will play to support the initiative.

Linda Cassidy then spoke about the beginnings of the initiative in the Atlantic region and how it had evolved to its present form.  She explained the principles that underlie the training and spoke about the training itself.  It was noted that referral agents and alternate dispute resolution advisors should not become facilitators or trainors for UMI, as it is important for these programs to keep their distinct identities and neutrality.

It was suggested and agreed that it might be useful for this committee to participate in a modified version of the UMI training as it would be an enhancement to the committee’s already established positive way of functioning.   It was also suggested and agreed that members of the committee should be exposed to the EAP Workshop for Union and Management.

The National EAP Office will organize a modified UMI training session for the committee at a future meeting. 

The National EAP Office will also present information on the EAP Workshop for Union and Management at a future meeting.

3. Follow up on Commitments from Last Meeting

The National EAP Office informed members that Neil Barclay had been unable to attend the meeting as planned and sends his regrets.  Reid Corrigall was also unable to attend and has stepped down from the committee.  He has indicated that this was the most worthwhile committee he had been involved with in the Agency.  A replacement for Reid will be identified shortly.

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

With respect to the templates developed to track EAP training, management informed the group that it seemed appropriate to review what is being tracked by CAS and the types of reports that can be produced using that system, rather than attempting to gather data manually.  It was agreed that members would be provided with information on the types of reports that can be produced by CAS with role 20.

Regarding the recommendation that EAP be a standing item on regional UMCs, it was suggested that it might be appropriate to raise the issue with the regional ACs, in addition to the HR directors.  It was noted that the unions could also ask that EAP be placed on the agenda.  CEUDA requested a copy of the e-mail that was sent to the HR directors on this topic.  Finally, it was suggested that this committee be made aware of any EAP issue discussed at the regional level that may have national implications.

Members of the committee then discussed the revised Terms of Reference for the National EAP Advisory Committee.  Members agreed with the revisions made to the document, save for section 9.0 - Leave, payment of wages and travel.  The unions felt that the revised wording of this section was restrictive and they indicated their preference for the wording contained in the previous version.  It was explained that this section was under the authority of Staff Relations.  Management agreed to take the unions’ feedback to Staff Relations and get back to the unions on this.  Once the Terms of Reference are finalized, they will be included in the EAP Policy.

The National EAP Office indicated that it had reviewed the Promotional Strategy in light of the revised Terms of Reference for the committee, but had no modifications to suggest at this time.  All agreed that the strategy was appropriate.  A discussion ensued on the status of the EAP planners for 2006.  At PIPSC’s suggestion, the National EAP Office agreed to contact Wayne Huskins regarding the braille calendars that he produces.

The National EAP Office will provide the committee with information on the types of reports that can be produced by CAS with role 20.

The National EAP Office will send CEUDA a copy of the e-mail sent to the HR directors recommending that EAP be a standing agenda item on regional UMCs.

The National EAP Office will provide Staff Relations with the unions’ feedback on section 9.0 of the Terms of Reference and will get back to the unions regarding the wording of this section.

The National EAP Office will contact Wayne Huskins to ensure EAP information is contained in next year’s edition of the braille calendar that he produces.

4. Update from National EAP Office

The National EAP Office distributed a short document taken from the June 2005 National EAP Business Meeting report in order to give an overview of the activities carried out since then.

UTE expressed concern about some of the wording contained in the documents provided and the direction that the Program seems to be taking.  They fear that EAP will be perceived as losing its neutrality should the coordinator-counsellors become identified with management and the change initiatives being rolled out.

The National EAP Office thanked UTE for this feedback.  It was emphasized that while we are looking at positioning the Program more strategically, so that people concerns are taken into consideration at the outset of initiatives rather than as an afterthought, there is absolute agreement that the credibility and neutrality of the Program must not be compromised.  There was a brief discussion on the role that the National EAP Office can play in providing advice to management and how this differs from the role that the coordinator-counsellors and contractors play in addressing the people aspects of change in particular and promoting good fundamental people practices in general.

The National EAP Office will review the documents in question with a view to clarifying the language to ensure it does not give the impression that EAP is aligning itself with management, as that is not the intent.

The National EAP Office invited the union members on the committee to participate in the National EAP Business Meeting pilot session of two new products: 1) a workshop on Leading and Managing Change; and 2) an information session on Mental Health in the Workplace.  Both sessions being piloted are intended for managers.  The National EAP Office is currently developing sessions for employees on the same topics.  More information on the pilot session will be provided via e-mail in the next few weeks.

The National EAP Office informed the committee that new posters would be designed for the Program by the end of this fiscal year.  Once we have the designs, they will be shared with the unions for feedback.

UTE spoke of their National EAP Conference that is planned for November 2006.  They indicated that they would be seeking participation of the National EAP Office and EAP coordinator-counsellors in this event.

The National EAP Office mentioned that two Basic courses were being planned for next fiscal year and invited union members to send observers to each session.  A discussion ensued regarding potential dates and the National EAP Office committed to attempt to schedule the courses with the College on dates convenient for all.

In response to a question by PIPSC, the National EAP Office informed the committee that the pulse report for the second quarter would be prepared and distributed as soon as all the regional data has been received.

The National EAP Office will:

  • review the Strategic Orientation document and the document entitled How CRA’s EAP can Support the Organization in Managing Continuous Change, with a view to clarifying the language to ensure the Program’s neutrality is maintained.
  • send details of the November 30 pilot session to the unions via e‑mail.
  • share the new poster designs with the unions for comment as soon as they are available.
  • issue the pulse report once data is received from all regions.

UTE will provide more information on the requested participation of the National EAP Office and the coordinator-counsellors in their National EAP Conference in November 2006.

Unions will provide names of their observers on the Basic course once dates have been set.

5. Service to Retirees

PIPSC expressed concern that this item has been discussed and agreed upon at numerous previous meetings, with no movement forward on the issue.  PIPSC indicated that they were seeking an action plan for this committee or management to raise the issue to the Commissioner to seek approval for extending EAP services to retirees, a proposal that is supported in the field and would represent minimal costs.

UTE indicated that they lacked background information on this proposal, as members were new to the committee.  Some concern was expressed about diverting limited program funding toward providing services for non-employees, as well as the logistics of providing the service to a population outside our workforce.

CEUDA indicated that they supported this initiative.

The National EAP Office reported on consultation conducted recently with the regions and other organizations on this issue.  It was noted that while there is general support for the proposal in the Agency, some concern was raised regarding the funding of the initiative.  As for other Public Service organizations, few provide this service.  Most organizations that have internal EAP services respond to requests for service by retirees on a case-by-case basis, much as we currently do at the CRA.  The National EAP Office distributed a document listing the other government departments that were surveyed.

There was a discussion on the most appropriate way to proceed with this proposal, given the lack of consensus within the committee, the response received from senior management a few years ago, and the fact that there is no strong rationale for providing services to non-employees who do not impact the workplace.

UTE agreed to get back to the National EAP Office with their position, once they have had a chance to consult with their network.   Management agreed to raise the issue to the Commissioner before the next meeting of the committee, once they have UTE’s official position on the issue.

CEUDA enquired whether there had been changes to the pre-retirement planning and preparation courses since the issue was first raised with senior management, as it had been decided then that this is where efforts should be focussed.  The National EAP Office will sollicit information from those responsible for that program and report back to the committee at the next meeting.

UTE will consult on this issue and get back to the National EAP Office with their official position.

Management will raise the issue to the Commissioner once UTE’s position has been clarified.

The National EAP Office will obtain information on the pre-retirement planning and preparation courses (whether the program has been strengthened in the past few years and its degree of success in meeting employee needs) and will share that information with the committee.

6. 2004-2005 Annual Report

Members reviewed the draft report and commented on several items of interest, e.g. the number of hours reported by referral agents and the proportion of hours they spend providing service and promoting the program; the slight decrease in the utilization of internal providers; the disparity between regions with respect to the number of contractors and referral agents.  The National EAP Office answered questions and provided additional information.

UTE asked whether consideration could be given in the future to having the successes broken down by region, as was done in the previous report, as this would facilitate the sharing of best practices between regions.  The National EAP Office indicated that this could most definitely be incorporated in our future reports; as for this report, the National EAP Office will review data on hand to see whether it can be organized by region without unduly delaying the issuance of the report.

Members agreed that the report provided a very comprehensive overview of the good work performed by all members of the EAP network.

The National EAP Office will consider the possibility of breaking down by region the successes listed on page 14 of the report.

7. Best Practices

Management indicated that the AC of HR has asked that a monitoring program be developed for all human resources programs.  This tool is currently under development and will provide a way to track best practices in all programs.  Management invited members to share their observations on best practices in EAP.

PIPSC spoke about the upcoming regional EAP conferences in both Atlantic (November) and SOR (March).  The union indicated that these conferences should be taking place on a more regular basis than what has been currently happening.

UTE and CEUDA both also indicated support for these regional conferences to be held on a yearly basis.

The National EAP Office informed members that every region was holding a conference this year, with the Pacific and Prairie regions combining efforts to hold a Western conference in Alberta in January, while NOR and Headquarters are holding theirs jointly in Rigaud in March.  It was also pointed out that local EAP committee member and referral agent networks continue to promote the Program and employee wellbeing through regular ongoing activities.

8. 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.

9. Closing Remarks

Members agreed that the meeting had been most productive.  The date for the next meeting was tentatively scheduled for May 17, 2006.

SUMMARY OF COMMITTMENTS

To Be Actioned By

1. The National EAP Office will organize a modified UMI training session for the committee at a future meeting. 

National EAP Office

 

2. The National EAP Office will present information on the EAP Workshop for Union and Management at a future meeting.

National EAP Office

 

3. The National EAP Office will provide the committee with information on the types of reports that can be produced by CAS with role 20.

National EAP Office

 

4. The National EAP Office will send CEUDA a copy of the e-mail sent to the HR directors recommending that EAP be a standing agenda item on regional UMCs.

National EAP Office

 

5. The National EAP Office will provide Staff Relations with the unions’ feedback on section 9.0 of the Terms of Reference and will get back to the unions regarding the wording of this section.

National EAP Office

 

6. The National EAP Office will contact Wayne Huskins to ensure EAP information is contained in next year’s edition of the braille calendar that he produces.

National EAP Office

 

7.   The National EAP Office will:

  • review the Strategic Orientation document and the document entitled How CRA’s EAP can Support the Organization in Managing Continuous Change, with a view to clarifying the language to ensure the Program’s neutrality is maintained.
  • send details of the November 30 pilot session to the unions via e-mail.
  • share the new poster designs with the unions for comment as soon as they are available.
  • issue the pulse report once data is received from all regions.

National EAP Office

8. UTE will provide more information on the requested participation of the National EAP Office and the coordinator-counsellors in their National EAP Conference in November 2006.

UTE

 

9. Unions will provide names of their observers on the Basic course once dates have been set.

All unions

 

10. UTE will consult on the issue of extending EAP services to retirees and get back to the National EAP Office with their official position.

UTE

 

11. Management will raise the issue of service to retirees to the Commissioner once UTE’s position has been clarified.

Management

 

12. The National EAP Office will obtain information on the pre-retirement planning and preparation courses (whether the program has been strengthened in the past few years and its degree of success in meeting employee needs) and will share that information with the committee.

National EAP Office

 

13. The National EAP Office will consider the possibility of breaking down by region the successes listed on page 14 of the report.

National EAP Office