Not Good Enough Workers at National Defence Speaking Out

Unionized employees at the Department of National Defence (DND) are not impressed with the government’s announcement of another review of personal and sexual harassment within the military and at the department. They are also coming forward with their own stories of personal and sexual harassment at the hands of the managers and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

June Winger, National President of the Union of National Defense Employees (UNDE) said that the government already knows what the problem is. “We don’t need another study. It’s time to act now. We expect the federal government to make significant changes at the Department of National Defence to shift this dangerous workplace culture immediately.”

Members from across the country have been coming forward with horrific tales of bullying and abuse including one member who’s been waiting over 700 days for a response to her complaint. Virginia Vaillancourt National President of the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE) which also represents some civilian employees at the department said that this is not acceptable. “We have members waiting almost two years for DND to deal with their situation and now we hear they are going to take another 18 months to come up with a plan. Members are mad and who can blame them?”

The union representatives called on the federal government for immediate action for victims of harassment at the department. “Employees from every region are now contacting their union representatives with horrific tales of bullying and abuse,” said Winger. “They have been silenced by fear of escalated abuse and retaliation but seeing the bravery of the witnesses and victims who are sharing their experiences with Parliament about the abuse faced by members of the Canadian Armed Forces, they want to share their lived experiences as well.”

The actions they call for include expediting all current active investigations, fully enforcing harassment policies and ensure those committing abuses face consequences and including all employees in any review of the current systems in place and create the systemic changes need to fix DND culture.

They also want the newly announced Chief Professional Conduct and Culture to be given broad powers to investigate and make recommendations for discipline of all managers at DND, whether they wear a uniform or not. “Unless this position is independent of the chain of command it will only serve as window dressing that cannot hide the scars and the damage inflicted on employees and lower ranked military members,” said Vaillancourt. “It’s time to heal our wounds and build a better Department for today and tomorrow.”

For information and interviews please contact

Mike Martin

Communications

mike54martin@yahoo.ca

613-290-5836

Phoenix: Damages ruled taxable as Treasury Board refuses to cooperate

Phoenix: Damages ruled taxable as Treasury Board refuses to cooperate | Public Service Alliance of Canada

After months of waiting, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has rejected our request to review the taxability of Phoenix damages. This is directly due to Treasury Board’s refusal to provide CRA with a joint statement of facts which corrects CRA’s understanding of the purpose of our damages settlement agreement.

In an April 27 letter from the CRA, the Agency states:

As discussed in our meeting on February 3, 2021, we consented to reconsider our position only if the Employer and PSAC provided us with an agreed-upon statement of facts. As this did not happen, we have not considered any of the assertions in your draft statement of facts.

After numerous requests for Treasury Board’s cooperation, and direct appeals to Minister Duclos, they have refused any and all cooperation on the matter.

“It’s clear they’re still angry that PSAC forced them to deliver a better deal for our members,” said PSAC President Chris Aylward.

“They’re frustrated that they have to honour the top-up clauses signed with the other unions to match our general damages agreement, and now they’re taking it out on PSAC members by sabotaging attempts to get a positive tax ruling.”

⬇️ Tell Minister Duclos to stop blocking CRA from reviewing their decision! ⬇️

Our union carefully worded the agreement to reflect a wide range of impacts suffered by PSAC members, including for “stress, aggravation, and pain and suffering” and for the late implementation of collective agreements. There is a strong precedent of damages for those purposes being deemed non-taxable by CRA. The tax treatment of the general damages should reflect the purpose of that compensation as outlined in the agreement.

It is unacceptable that Treasury Board refuses to affirm these facts. Instead they informed CRA that the agreement’s purpose is to resolve a policy grievance between the employer and the union – something that may be true for other unions, but not for PSAC’s damages agreement.

We will not let this stand without a fight.

While we continue to explore every legal avenue to appeal CRA’s decision, please take a moment to join our efforts by sharing your outrage directly with Minister Duclos and the Prime Minister.

Our goal is to ensure all PSAC members receive the full compensation they deserve and that we avoid any time consuming and complex tax disputes for individual members. We are also pushing Treasury Board to expedite the availability of the claims process for all former members and retirees who are still waiting to receive their Phoenix general damages.

We will provide additional updates to members about this ongoing work as we move forward.

For more information about Phoenix damages, please check out our FAQ.

Toufic El-Daher

National Executive Vice-President UVAE

Asian Heritage Month


Official Declaration of Asian Heritage Month
Diversity represents one of Canada’s greatest strengths, and we strive to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to reach their full potential and participate in Canada’s civic life.
Over the last two centuries, immigrants have journeyed to Canada from East Asia, Southern Asia, Western and Southeast Asia, bringing our society a rich cultural heritage representing many languages, ethnicities and religious traditions.
The people of this diverse, vibrant and growing community have contributed to every aspect of life in Canada — from the arts and science to sport, business, and government.
Asian Heritage Month offers all Canadians an opportunity to learn more about the history of Asian Canadians and to celebrate their contributions to the growth and prosperity of Canada.
Thereby, we declare May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. (https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/asian-heritage-month/about.html )
Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990s. In December 2001, the Senate of Canada adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada and in May 2002 the Government of Canada signed the official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month.
Did you know that Asian Canadians have origins from China; Philippines; Japan; Korea; South Asia and Vietnam. Since the late 1700’s they have made important contributions to Canadian heritage and identity.
As this article was being written, it was disheartening to read about the recent events in the USA about the killing of Asian Americans and it saddens me that even today immigrants to the America’s are facing such atrocities.
With so much negativity in the news let us celebrate a bit differently this time . Let us not speak about the history or the struggles; let us speak about those Canadian with an Asian background who have given so much to Canada in return for what Canada has given them. A new home, an enriched life, and a future that may not have been possible for them in their homeland.
Alfred Sung – Alfred Sung is born in 1948 in Shanghai, China, he grew up in Hong Kong. He dedicated his life to creating new fashions, apparel, fragrances, accessories and home fashions for women and men. In 1972 he decided to move to Canada. In 1985, Sung co-founded Club Monaco, a high-end casual clothing retailer, with Saul and Joseph Mimran.
When Baltej Singh Dhillon was accepted into the RCMP, he had to find a way to merge his sense of duty to Canada and religion. Service in the RCMP required a clean-shaven face and the wearing of the forces historic uniform, including the issued headgear. As a Sikh, Dhillon’s religious obligation required a beard and wearing a turban. He chose to fight for his religious rights and sparked a debate across the country. The federal government removed the ban on turbans on March 15, 1990. Dhillon graduated from RCMP and he went on to a long care
Sudarshan Gautam was born in the Ramechhap district in Nepal. He was the first individual without arms to climb Mount Everest without the use of prosthetics. As a result of an accident during his childhood, Gautam had to have both of his arms amputated.. He immigrated to Canada in 2007. In 2014, he was inducted into the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame. In May 2017, he received the South Asian Canadian Trailblazers Award.
Deepa Mehta is a prominent and respected filmmaker whose work is known worldwide for its honesty, beauty, and universality. Mehta is the recipient of the 2012 Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement.
At Vimy Ridge in April 1917, Masumi Mitsui, a Canadian soldier of Japanese origin, earned the Military Medal for bravery. After the war, he returned to British Columbia and helped to establish a Japanese Canadian war memorial in Stanley Park. He was a member of the contingent that lobbied the British Columbian legislature to give Canadians of Japanese origin the right to vote. After the war, Mitsui participated in the lobbying for a public apology and compensation. He died in 1987 at the age of 99. He was the last surviving Canadian veteran of Japanese origin of the First World War—a year before the government made its apology.
Senator Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian of Asian origin appointed to the Senate of Canada. She was integral to establishing May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. Poy was educated in Hong Kong, England, and Canada, in addition, she earned a PhD in history from the University of Toronto. Poy was appointed to the Senate in 1998, and in 2001 proposed a motion to designate May as Asian Heritage Month. In May 2002, the Government of Canada declared the celebratory month in a formal ceremony.
(https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/asian-heritage-month/noteworthy-figures.html)
The Canadian Encyclopedia has a very informative article on significant events about Asian Heritage in Canada. Take a moment check it out as it speaks about the struggles endured by the first generation of Asian immigrants in Canada . Watch the video The Secret Life of Canada – Shout Out to Private Buckam Singh – one of the first Sikh Canadian soldier who served in WWI.
A very short list of the many accomplished Asians who have made Canada their home, and are proud Canadians who have left a legacy behind for us to appreciate and continue to honour.
Human Rights Committee
Image: rcinet.ca

International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD) where women all over the world come together in celebration of the achievements and evolution women have made in strengthening their position socially, economically, culturally and in the political arena.
There have been claims that March 8, is to commemorate the 15,000 female garment workers that marched through New York City’s Lower East Side and rallied at Union Square demanding economic and political rights in 1908.
Why do we have International days? To unite people at a National and Global scale to educate, mobilize, to have an impact on law makers and to increase resources to help address the systemic issues and to pay tribute to the achievements that have made an impact on the cause.
IWD gives women a platform and an opportunity to access lived experiences, and stories that encourage, build up and inspire more women in their careers and lives. The #MeToo a social movement against sexual violence uses its platform to advocates for females who survived sexual violence to speak out about their experience.
Unfortunately, there are many parts of the world where there is little progress and little advocacy for women’s rights. These challenges highlight the oppression and injustice women face. The nature of the challenges for women are all different, and basic human rights is a high priority. Women and girls are still being treated worldwide with systematic violence, domestic abuse, sexual harassment or trafficking, financial abuse and deprivation. It was estimated that 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. (www.unwomen.org).
We need to continue bringing attention to
• the injustice facing Indigenous Woman and Girls and advocate to bring their plight to the forefront
• to gender parity and women’s rights by exposing the extraordinary impacts women have made all around the world in their countries, communities and their workplaces.

As we celebrate IWD, lets remember the contribution and collaboration of our allies. Let’s not forget that gender equity is not only a female issue but a social and economic obligation. The best way to move forward is to include us all in our goals to achieve Gender Equality on a global scale.
The famous poem, Bread and Roses by James Oppenheim has been put to song by at least three composers and is a heartwarming slogan pairing bread and roses, appealing for both fair wages and dignified conditions. This year, due to the pandemic, celebrations will be held virtually. Please go to the PSAC website (psacunion.ca) or search International Women’s day for information.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

I sit here reflecting on what I should write about Black History Month and think why not my own journey in understanding this significant event. 

I knew very little about the struggles faced by Black Canadians when I came to Canada, as it was not a topic covered in too much detail during history classes at school.  We were taught the very basic and nothing more.  Looking back, it seems that it was a topic people were uncomfortable with discussing.

Black History Month?  What is the significance?  Why was it recognized?  I decided to read up and ask questions. 

My first step in this journey was speaking with a colleague, who invited me to attend a meeting of the PSAC’s racial equity group way back in the 90’s.  At this meeting I met a couple of very strong, and dedicated Advocates for the cause and they became my mentors, guides and friends.

It made me realize that it takes only a few incredibly strong and vocal advocates, fighting not only for their own dignity and rights but also for their brothers and sisters suffering the injustices and biases, to make a change for the better.  It also saddens me to realize that in spite of all the advocacy and all that has been achieved there still exists Anti-Black Racism.  When I sit and reflect on what I have learned I recall a black colleague’s statement “We don’t want to take over your place at the Table, we want to share the space equitably with you”.  Let us all work towards that goal.

The Canadian Encyclopedia proved to be a great resource for me, and I am sharing some facts found there, I would encourage all of you to read the timelines.

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/timeline/black-history

1608 – The first Black person thought to have set foot on Canadian soil was Mathieu Da Costa, a free man who was hired by Europeans to act as a translator.

1776 – Many Blacks actively participated in the American Revolutionary War, serving as boatmen, woodsmen, general labourers, buglers and musicians. General Henry Clinton formed a corps of free Blacks, called the Black Pioneers.

1784 – After the Revolutionary War, the “Black Pioneers” were among the first settlers in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, and they helped build the new settlement. On its fringes they established their own community, “Birchtown.” When hundreds of White, disbanded soldiers were forced to accept work at rates competitive with their Black neighbours the ensuing hostility caused a riot.

1812 – Thousands of Black volunteers fought for the British during the War of 1812. Fearing American conquest (and the return to slavery), many Blacks in Upper Canada served heroically in coloured and regular regiments. The British promise of freedom and land united many escaped slaves under the British flag.

1944Ontario was the first province to respond to social change when it passed the Racial Discrimination Act of 1944. This landmark legislation effectively prohibited the publication and display of any symbol, sign, or notice that expressed ethnic, racial, or religious discrimination. It was followed by other sweeping legislation.

1962 – During her term as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Ellen Fairclough oversaw improvements to the Canadian Immigration Service, and her most significant accomplishment was the radical reform of the government’s “White Canada” immigration policy. Regulations tabled in 1962 helped to eliminate racial discrimination in Canada’s immigration policy.

1991 A fight between one Black and one White student at Cole Harbour District High School escalated into a brawl involving 50 youths of both races. The event mobilized provincial Black activists around the issue of unequal educational opportunities. Nova Scotia’s Ministry of Education established a fund in 1995 to improve education and support anti-racist initiatives.

We cannot forget the many accomplishments by our black brothers and sisters in the field of music, art, sports and many more.  Just to name a few:  Harry Jerome, Donovan Bailey, Willie O’Ree, Angela James, Andre De Grasse, Austin Clarke, Viola Desmond, Mary Ann Shadd, Portia White, Elijah McCoy June Clark, and Buseje Bailey.

Despite the improvements and accomplishments over the last 20 years, much work still needs to be done. We need to have difficult and uncomfortable conversations to learn and reflect on the impact systemic racism contributes to inequity and injustice.

Brothers and Sisters let’s stand proud and celebrate our rich history.  Look for and participate in the many virtual activities ongoing during this month.  Become Advocates!

Zarina Khan, HR Committee – UVAE

Harassment Has No Place at Veterans Affairs Canada Bonuses for Harassers. Suffering for Workers.

For IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 1, 2021

“We have on-going and systemic harassment and far too many employees are getting injured. This has to stop.”

Virginia Vaillancourt National President Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees

The main union at Veterans Affairs Canada is calling for immediate action to address increasing harassment and deteriorating mental health among its employees. The Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE) has been working for months trying to get management to address systemic issues at the department and according to union representatives, they have received little to no response.

UVAE surveyed its members this fall on their experience with harassment, discrimination and mental health concerns and found significant levels of problems with all three aspects. On harassment and discrimination, the number of complaints were far higher than reported in the Public Service Employee Survey and 48% of employees at Veterans Affairs Canada who were harassed or discriminated against said they were suffering mental health issues as a result of what had happened to them at work.

Even more disturbing in the survey results was the fact that 36% said that the harassment was on-going, despite the fact that they had made complaints to management.  Veterans Affairs Canada has a long history of rewarding bad behavior, says the Union, with the most senior offenders often being shuffled around from one job to another, instead of suffering any real consequences. Despite past assurances from the Department, this practice has not changed at all.

“This is completely unacceptable and is an example of how management protects their own when faced with a complaint from a worker. Employees are left to suffer serious psychological harm, often requiring long periods of leave with little to no support from the Employer, while the bullies are left to move on to the next victim.”

Virginia Vaillancourt National President Union of Veterans Affairs’ Employees

The union is publicly releasing the results of the membership survey because management has so far been reluctant to deal substantively with any of the underlying issues that is leading to this level of harassment and mental health issues at the workplace. They are also formulating a plan to help their members deal with the additional stress that these issues are causing at Veterans Affairs Canada.

“We would prefer to work in partnership with management to reduce the negative impact on employees who are working tirelessly to serve Canada’s Veterans, but we cannot wait forever to help employees who are suffering and to protect employees from harassment at work. We cannot provide effective assistance to Veterans and their families if we are just as psychologically injured”

Virginia Vaillancourt National President Union of Veterans Affairs’ Employees

Media Contacts

Mike Martin – 613-290-5836 mike54martin@yahoo.ca