Contact Centre Committee Meeting

Call Centre Committee
Contact Centre Committee Meeting
February 6, 2024


DATE: February 6, 2024                 TIME: 1pm-4pm

BRANCH: ABSB and CVB              UNION: UTE

LOCATION/FORMAT: Hybrid - In-person (395 Terminal Ave - Room 8005 8th floor, Ottawa) and virtual (MS Teams)


  • Kira Sherry (Co-chair(ABSB-DGCPS)
  • Frank Di Lena
  • Tammy Myers
  • Jennifer Cave


  • Benoit Remillard



  • Brian Oldford (UTE Co-Chair)
  • Kevin Welgush
  • Trixie Gorzo
  • Andrea Holmes


1. Opening Remarks

The Management Committee Co-chair opened the meeting by welcoming all attendees and shared her appreciation for the ongoing consultation discussions that have been taken place recently regarding the Contact Centre Agent Assessment Tool (CCAAT) replacement.

The Union Committee Co-chair also welcomed all attendees and shared his appreciation for the opportunity to discuss Union’s concerns and issues that have been raised by their members.

2. Contact Centre Services Directorate - CCSD general update

The Management Committee Co-chair indicated that management have hired an additional 1000 phone agents as temporary funding has been received for this upcoming filling season. She also mentioned that a reminder was recently sent to all directors to remind employees about the 5 minute breaks and other well being tools that are available to them during this peak period.

She shared that current temporary funding comes to an end in May and that an update on future funding is hoped for in early March 2024.

The Union asked if management is still looking at increasing the percentage of permanent employees. Management responded that the vision is to have a higher percentage of permanent employees, with a small increase of term employees for filling seasons. If permanent funding is received in the future, management’s goal is to maximize the number of permanent employees, while looking at other ways to help manage spikes in demand, such as the continuing development of automated services.

The Management Committee Co-chair also provided an update on call volumes by mentioning that the numbers observed are similar, with a small incline, to those from previous years. The average handle time of calls has seen a noticeable increase since the start of the pandemic. Management is currently analysing this situation and hoping to find ways to reduce handle time.

The Union shared their perception of the handle time increase observed by management by mentioning that the training period, during Covid, was condensed and therefore quicker as demand escalated. The Union also mentioned that the new training reality, having new hires sitting in different areas than their facilitators, is creating more obstacles and therefore negatively impacting the amount of support agents receive.

Management shared their appreciation for the feedback and agreed that fast hiring was one of the challenges observed during the Covid period. 

3. Ratio of permanent vs. contract employees by contact centre

Management opened the topic by stating that the ratios have been stable since the last Committee meeting with the exception of the newly hired 1000 term employees. The overall percentage of permanent employees across all Contact Centres is at 44%.

Management also shared that an anomaly has been observed on the business enquiry side in Edmonton showing a considerable higher percentage of permanent employees compared to other centres. Management is analysing this situation.   

The Union shared their disappointment as they were hoping to observe a greater increase of the permanent percentage as the situation seems to be declining since the last Committee meeting in Montreal.

4. Debt Management Call Centre (DMCC) - Brief update 

Jennifer Cave, Director Collections Directorate, provided an update on DMCC. She indicated that positive feedback has been received regarding the Atlantic office, similar to the updates provided in the last Committee meetings. She then proposed to the Committee to drop this subject (Atlantic DMCC) from the ongoing updates as no negative feedback has been received and no issues were raised since the implementation. The Union agreed with the proposition.

The Collections Directorate Director also shared on the branch initiative to create a technical help guide. The Collection and Verification Branch (CVB) has partnered with the Assessment, Benefit and Service Branch (ABSB) to develop a similar product to the ABSB technical help guide. Once completed, it will be shared with the agents in order to improve their search navigation of the information. Furthermore, CVB is also making improvements to the vocal telephone lines which have been an issue recently, causing instability and accessibility issues. The goal is to transfer to the Hosted Contact Centre Service (HCCS) system while continuing to assign phone lines and the appropriate levels of backup. A one hour training session will be provided to the agents for login in to HCCS.

The Union asked if management has looked at the inbound versus outbound raised during the last Committee meeting. Management confirmed that the issue was communicated to the regions and they are actively trying to avoid having agents repetitively switch from one workflow to the other. Management understands the issue and the complexity of the task but it largely depends on demand.

5. Union Issues

a) Hours of work

The Union asked management to provide an update on their position regarding the possibility of extending the hours of work to include the 6am start time. Management mentioned they have considered the possibility and at this time, it is not an option. Management may re-evaluate this possibility in the future.

The Union shared their disagreement towards management refusal to include the possibility of the 6am start as the language used in the collective agreement is clear on the subject. Agents should have the same flexibility being offered to other CRA employees and not be treated differently. The Union also requested that the 6am start time topic remains on the agenda for future Committee meetings. Management agreed to this request.  

The Union also asked if management consulted with them about making phone agents shift workers or simply on the extended hours of work. Management confirmed that, during a consultation on extended hours of work with Shane O’Brien, the inclusion of the shift worker term and its interpretation was discussed.

The Union shared their disagreement in regards to management’s denial to pay overtime for agents working on Saturdays. The Union also mentioned that they strongly reject and are opposed with management’s decision to include Saturdays as regular shift working hours and that they will proceed with a grievance campaign with their members as, from their perspective, it does not follow the Collective Agreement.

Management stated that the decision to open Contact Centres on Saturdays was taken in 2020, during Covid, and it was based on feedback received from Canadians. At the moment, there is no appetite to revoke this initiative as there is ongoing demand.

The Union raised the issue of management not honoring the two consecutive days of rest in the shift worker provisions. Management confirmed they will look into it, confirm what is happening and address the issue with offices, as needed.

The Union stated that a decision on the policy grievance is needed to resolve this disagreement. Management agrees it would be good to get the third party input. Until a ruling is received from the policy grievance, management will maintain status quo.

Commitment: 6am start time topic to be added to next Committee meeting agendas

b) Scheduling of vacation

The Union shared concerns about agents reporting issues when attempting to book vacation time. They have been receiving automatic denial replies with Workforce Management (WFM) used as an explanation for the denial. Team Leaders can allow the vacation request under exceptional circumstances using discretional power which is resulting in inconsistencies in the vacation request process.

Management stated that in July 2023 there was a spike in demand which resulted in a more conservative approach taken towards vacation approvals. Management agreed that the vacation request process should be re-evaluated and applied consistently at a national level. Management also confirmed that the regions will receive the forecast for vacation for Q1 and Q2 the week following this committee meeting. The future vision, once budget has been confirmed, will be to forecast vacation allowances well in advance.

The Union reiterated that the Collective Agreement states that vacation time is to be requested in advance and not to be unreasonably denied, there is no mention of exceptional circumstances to be considered, which results in an unfair process.  

c) Rollout of on-site presence (ROOP) exemption

The Union asked if the ROOP exemption will be renewed for another year. Management was not able to respond as the decision has not been made a the government and CRA management levels. There is a de facto extension (with no set end date) so that it would not require a change in mid filing season. More information is expected by the end of March.

The Union raised concerns about the possibility of having some offices return to work while others to continue working from home as this would create problems and complaints from their members.

Management mentioned that although the national plan is to continue working from home in the short term, a decision to return to the office would consider local capacities and building issues. The Union will be consulted once a final decision is confirmed.

d) 5 minute hold times

The Union shared concerns about the misusage of the 5 minute hold time as it is not consistently managed and monitored across the regions. The Union also mentioned that this aspect is easily measurable and should therefore be adequately monitored. Management stated that they heard the Unions concern about this issue and will follow up to ensure guidelines are provided.

e) Standardization of team ratios and resource officers to agents

The Union asked management what is the desired ratio. Management mentioned that the goal is to get away from specific ratio as the preferred method would be to use data such as number of calls redirected to resource officers. The idea is to allocate SP-05s based on demand and the work required rather than a ratio.

f) Canada Disability Benefit

The Union asked management if they have received any insight regarding the Benefit to be launched in June 2024. Management confirmed receiving no information on the subject and will advise the Union if this situation changes.

g) QMS (Quality monitoring section) QE (Quality Evaluators)

The Union asked management if there has been any progress in the creation of the working group responsible for quality evaluations. The Union expressed their desire for the creation of SP-06 levels as it would create a career path for experienced agents. Management confirmed that a team led by Shalene Losier is looking at every level of the organizational structure. Management agrees that the inclusion of a SP-06 level to the structure would have benefits, but levels are determined according to the classification model and not by management. The union will have the opportunity to review all new work descriptions.

h) Jobs descriptions for CCAAT

The Union requested an extension until February 20th to respond to the list of questions regarding organizational structure.

Commitment: Sending a response to the questions on organizational structure by February 20th.

i) Sunset funding after May

On the topic of sunset funding, management mentioned that no information is available at this time. More information should be available following the funding information that is hoped for in March 2024.

6. Closing Remarks

The Union Committee Co-chair shared his appreciation for the opportunity to meet and discuss Union issues as there are many anomalies occurring in the Contact Centres. He also stated that phone agents need to be treated fairly by the CRA as they have been working hard throughout the pandemic by providing critical services to Canadians. Furthermore, he advised management to expect the grievance campaign to continue as Union members are unhappy with the current issues such as sunset funding, vacation requests refusals and hours of work.

The Management Committee Co-chair also shared her appreciation for the opportunity to meet as well as the opportunity to receive Unions opinions.


  • 6am start time to topic to be added to next Committee meeting
  • Response to list of questions on organizational structure due date
    February 20th