Employee Assistance Program

Minutes of the National EAP Advisory Committee

October 17, 2002
Participants' List
Jill LaRose
Director General, Strategic Branch
Management and Program Support
Directorate
4th Floor, 200 Laurier Ave. W., Ottawa
Tel. (613) 941-9405
Mark Leonard
1st National Vice-President, CEUDA
Hamilton, Ontario
Tel. (905) 308-8662
Cathy Munroe
Regional Director – CBS
Northern Ontario Region
2265 St-Laurent Blvd., Ottawa
Tel. (613) 991-0566
John Benbow
EAP Representative, PIPSC
London, Ontario
Tel. (519) 851-2027
Suzanne Gorley
National EAP Coordinator
3rd Floor, 99 Metcalfe Ave., Ottawa
Tel. (613) 954-8127
Shawn Bergeron
Regional Vice-President, UTE
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Tel. (204) 984-5262
Michel Goguen
Senior EAP Advisor
3rd Floor, 99 Metcalfe Ave., Ottawa
Tel. (613) 952-2109
Lina Ruel
Labour Relations Officer, UTE
233 Gilmour Street, Ottawa
Tel. (613) 235-6704
Sydne Genge
Manager, Labour Relations
3rd Floor, 200 Laurier Ave. W., Ottawa
Tel. (613) 954-0094
Eunice Trainor
4th National Vice-President, CEUDA
Summerside Tax Centre, P.E.I.
Tel. (902) 432-5869
Bonnie Lehman
Senior Labour Relations Advisor
3rd Floor, 200 Laurier Ave, W, Ottawa
Tel. (613) 957-3543
Observers
Doug Gaetz, UTE EAP Committee Member
Diana Gee, UTE EAP Committee Member
Judith St-Onge, National EAP Office (minutes)

OPENING REMARKS

Jill LaRose welcomed the participants to the meeting and asked the National EAP Office to present letters of appreciation to the departing members of the National EAP Advisory Committee. Suzanne Gorley formally thanked the departing members for their work and dedication to the Program over the years, presenting the letters of appreciation that had been signed by Dan Tucker, Assistant Commissioner, Human Resources Branch, and the members of the National EAP Advisory Committee. Mark Leonard expressed his appreciation for the gesture, stating that he had enjoyed his time with the committee and that he felt that the group had done good work together. Bob Campbell’s letter was presented to him in absentia.

Jill LaRose thanked the departing members and welcomed the new members to the meeting: Shawn Bergeron, UTE, replacing the departing Bob Campbell; Eunice Trainor, CEUDA, taking over for Mark Leonard; Cathy Munroe, new management representative, and Diana Gee, new UTE observer.

Jill LaRose introduced herself to the committee members, giving a brief work history and stating that she welcomed the opportunity to work with the committee. She thanked the National EAP Office team for their hard work, both in administering the program over the years and in preparing for this meeting. Jill expressed her pleasure at being involved with EAP, describing the Program as a success story that is well accepted by employees, strongly supported by all stakeholders and well managed by staff.

Jill then took time to introduce the new management representative, Cathy Munroe, to the committee. Cathy’s breadth of experience with the former Taxation and Customs & Excise was described, culminating in her current position as Regional Director, Customs for the Northern Ontario Region. Cathy expressed her appreciation at being invited to sit on the committee and expects to enjoy working with the members and being involved in such an important program.

Jill commented on the new EAP policy that was going through the formal approval process when she joined the Agency. She felt that it was a good example of a product created through extensive collaboration. It is a good policy and a basis for an effective and well-functioning program. Jill congratulated the members of the committee for their contributions to the process. Indications from the field are that the policy has been well received.

John Benbow welcomed the new committee members and stressed the importance of continuity and long-term commitment of the management representatives on the committee.

Mark Leonard introduced Eunice Trainor as his replacement, reiterating that he had very much enjoyed his time as a committee member.

Shawn Bergeron expressed pleasure at becoming a member of the committee. He acknowledged the need to have a good policy but cautioned that it was important not to be complacent and to review it regularly to ensure the program is meeting the needs of employees. He cited a recent instance of workplace violence in a provincial government office in highlighting the importance of the program, stressing that we must strive to ensure that EAP services are available to all employees in need.

1) CONTRACTING PROJECT UPDATE

Management recapped the issue, describing the process that had been followed so far in developing the Statement of Work (SOW), drafting the Request for Information (RFI) and forwarding it to the unions for feedback. Management then welcomed union comments on the RFI.

The unions suggested that the term ‘case’ should be defined in the document and that the definition used on the EAP statistical form would be appropriate. They also enquired as to the next steps in the process.

Judy Bonacci, Materiel Management, explained that the RFI would be posted on the electronic tendering system, MERX, for forty days. Interested service providers will be able to respond to a list of questions that solicit their feedback on the SOW document and on their ability to meet CCRA’s contracting requirements. EAP contractors are aware of the MERX system and it is easily accessible. Judy clarified that this is not a bidding process, merely a process to gather information. That information will then be analysed by the National EAP Office. They will prepare a list of options for consideration by the various stakeholders i.e. contracting authorities, management, unions, the EAP network. The aim of this process is to ensure that there is a consistent level of service through our EAP contracts and to make the administration of the process as efficient and effective as possible.

In response to questions raised by the unions, management recognized the importance of maintaining local input into the process of needs identification and service assessment, stating that local committees are ideally placed to perform this important function.

Management committed to defining the term ‘case’ in the document and to forwarding the finalized product to Materiel Management as soon as possible for posting on the MERX system.

2) PACIFIC REGION AUDIT OF EAP CONTRACTS

The union asked management to clarify the purpose of the EAP contract audit conducted in the Pacific Region last year.

The National EAP Office responded that it came about as a result of the findings and recommendations contained in the EAP Evaluation of 1999. The findings pertaining to the contracts in the evaluation were not region specific. Management in the Pacific Region wanted to know the state of the various contracts in their region and asked Materiel Management to undertake a review. Materiel Management confirmed that there were issues (expired contracts, employees not covered) in the region, and management decided to ask an outside firm to perform an audit. The firm chosen was Managed Employee Assistance (MEA), the group that conducted the original national EAP evaluation.

Management cited this activity as an example of a best practice in that the region had taken action to ensure a consistent and high level of service to employees through external EAP contracts.

3) STATISTICS

The National EAP office presented an overview of statistical data from the 2001/2002 fiscal year. The committee discussed the utilization rate and the fact that, for the first time, cases seen by the EAP professionals (Coordinator-counsellors and contractors) were being captured separately from those reported by referral agents. The committee also discussed the types of issues being reported. The National EAP Office pointed out that a higher percentage of employees reported work-related issues to internal EAP practitioners than external; correspondingly, the external contractors report a higher incidence of family-related and emotional issues than the internal practitioners. It is likely that employees conduct a certain level of self-diagnosis and choose the resource they feel can best help them. This fact highlights the benefits of having an EAP that offers multiple service points.

The National EAP Office committed to communicating detailed statistical data to the committee members as soon as possible. They also committed to preparing the 2001/2002 national report by December.

In response to a concern expressed by one of the unions related to the font size used in the statistical forms, the National EAP Office relayed feedback received from users in the field. The Coordinator-counsellors and RAs reported satisfaction with the form. Its electronic format allows it to be manipulated for ease of viewing. The Committee agreed that local technical expertise should be consulted should it be necessary to print copies of the forms in a larger font.

The National EAP Office reported on the various Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) initiatives that were ongoing in the regions. The Pacific Region peer model initiative was a success; interest in this model has been expressed in the Manitoba/Saskatchewan district of the Prairies Region and in Northern Ontario Region. Other regions are examining the issue and may decide that the CISM plans already in place are adequate. The National EAP Office agreed to provide the unions with a copy of the Pacific Region’s formal evaluation of its program.

4) EAP PROMOTION

a) EAP Planner

The National EAP Office provided an update on the 2003 EAP Planner project. The final product is being printed and the copies are expected to be in the various distribution centres by November 4. It was confirmed that the Braille copies produced last year by Wayne Huskins were two-year calendars (2002 & 2003). It is hoped that the distribution problems experienced last year have been addressed through the identification of Planner Coordinators in each region. In addition, a pop-up window in CAS will remind those seeking to order copies of the planner to consult their respective coordinator. A pop-up window is planned for InfoZone in late October that will inform employees that they will be receiving their planners in the near future. Consultation with IT experts is ongoing regarding the on-line survey mechanism, scheduled to be active through the month of January. The unions suggested that the method of distribution of the planners be uniform i.e. some areas ‘personalize’ their planners with labels, some hand them out individually. Management responded that the National EAP Office has coordinated the production and distribution and has provided advance notice of the initiative. The regions/districts/locals are best positioned to determine the most effective means of distribution.

The National EAP Office presented a proposal from Employment Equity (EE) to include significant dates related to their designated groups in the 2004 planner. The Committee discussed other information that could be provided to employees through the planner.

It was agreed that the National EAP Office would examine the issue of including or highlighting the dates proposed by EE. The idea of including a page at the end of the planner that would list web sites of interest will also be examined. A proposal concerning these suggestions will be presented to the Committee at the next meeting.

b) Communication Strategy

The draft document concerning a communications strategy for the EAP was discussed. It was agreed that parts of the draft were dated and that the document should be revised. The committee agreed that a communications strategy should be a useful tool that includes a framework and guidelines and provides support in terms of products and the sharing of ideas.

The National EAP Office agreed to revise the document to make it more practical and useful to the field; a new version will be provided to the committee members for their feedback in mid-February.

One of the unions raised the issue of a promotional video for the program. The Committee discussed the availability of generic, off-the-rack videos and the other means of promotion available to the program i.e. web site. The National EAP Office reminded members that the Communications expert that attended the September 17, 2001 meeting of this committee was of the opinion that videos require centralized delivery and that there are other tools that can be made more readily available to employees. She went on to say that it was important to focus on the development of a communications strategy in order to know what kinds of promotional products would be most effective in meeting employee needs.

The National EAP Office agreed to provide committee members with the draft video script that was prepared in 1999. The issue of promotional products will be discussed at the next meeting of the committee.

5) TRAINING

The National EAP Office presented a document that summarizes the training and conferences held and planned this fiscal year for referral agents and local EAP committees.

It was noted by one of the unions that this document does not include the incidences of union/management training on EAP. The National EAP Office explained that the information concerning union/management training is captured in the statistics discussed at item 3.

A discussion ensued on whether that training was still being delivered jointly by the EAP coordinator-counsellors and the contractors. It was explained that in some cases it is jointly delivered, but that in some instances, it may be delivered by the coordinator-counsellors only, or by the contractor only, depending on location and logistics. The National EAP Office explained that the important thing was for the workshop to be delivered by an EAP professional.

The union felt that there was a real need for this course and expressed concern that there were fewer training sessions for union/management in 2001-2002 than in previous years. It was agreed that the National EAP Office would inform the coordinator-counsellors of this concern and ensure that they canvass their areas to assess the needs. It was also agreed that the National EAP Office would provide committee members with an outline of this session in the days following the meeting and would update the content of the session by the end of December.

The union also expressed concern that EAP conferences are not being held on a yearly basis in all regions. While management agreed that we should be encouraging the regions to hold regional conferences annually, it was pointed out that the regions must also have the flexibility to assess how they will meet the training needs of the EAP network in their own areas, as geography, dispersion of offices, and regional resources vary from region to region.

6) EAP BUDGETS

The National EAP Office reported on a survey of the coordinator-counsellors regarding regional budget practices, as a follow up to the issues raised at the last meeting. None of the coordinator-counsellors have signing authority, but most are involved in the EAP budget allocation process for their region.

The union expressed concern about how the EAP functional budgets were being spent. They asked whether management could provide information on how much was allocated to each region, and how much was spent on EAP by each region. Management agreed to look into this and see what information could be shared with the unions.

7) MEA/EAP ACTION PLAN UPDATE

The National EAP Office provided an update on the progress in each area of the action plan since the last meeting.

Clarification was requested by the union on the rationale behind the recommendation regarding clinical supervision. A discussion followed on current industry practices.

The National EAP Office distributed a short document outlining the various options under consideration for providing clinical supervision and support to the coordinator-counsellors. It was suggested by one union representative that management may want to look at how clinical supervision is being provided in organizations of similar size that have internal counselling resources. The National EAP Office agreed with the suggestion and indicated that the evaluation of these options was a priority and would be completed by the end of the fiscal year.

8) SUMMARY – NATIONAL MEETING OF COORDINATOR-COUNSELLORS

The National EAP Office gave a brief overview of the National Conference of EAP Coordinator-counsellors that was held in Montreal last April. Of interest to the Committee was the fact that the coordinator-counsellors formed sub-committees to address issues of interest and priority.

The unions asked to be kept informed of any recommendations or products flowing out of the sub-committees. Management agreed to keep the unions informed.

It was suggested by one of the unions that the type of session presented to the coordinator-counsellors in Montreal (Energy, Engagement and Effectiveness, by Dr. Francine MacInnis), might be appropriate for referral agents also as they run the risk of burning out because of the helping role that they play. The National EAP Office explained that the Workshop for Experienced Referral Agents includes a half-day session on “Care for the Caregiver” which addresses this issue.

9) SCHEDULING MEETINGS

It was suggested by one of the union representatives that future meetings be scheduled in the morning, rather than in the afternoon, as this would allow the committee to take the time needed to address all issues fully. Consideration will be given to a morning meeting, depending on everyone’s schedule. As for the suggestion that meeting dates not be changed once set, efforts will be made in this regard, to the extent possible.

10) ROUND TABLE

Eunice Trainor asked whether the EAP posters could include a mention of union involvement in the Program. The National EAP Office responded that the posters already include the phrase “A joint union/management program”. The posters also include a blank space that can be used to add local information (e.g. names and telephone numbers of service providers).

Mark Leonard told members that he had enjoyed working with them for the past three years and he wished everybody luck in their future endeavours.

John Benbow remarked that the meeting had been very productive. He suggested that management consider giving a small gift as a token of appreciation to departing members. This suggestion will be taken under advisement.

CLOSING REMARKS

Jill LaRose thanked members for their participation. Everyone agreed that the meeting was very productive.

Jill Larose
Director General, Strategic Branch Management and Program Support
Human Resources Branch

Mark Leonard John Benbow
1st National Vice-President EAP Representative
CEUDA PIPSC

Shawn Bergeron
Regional Vice-President
UTE