Report of the National President – Nov 2019

I respectfully submit my report as National President of the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees. 

Since my last report, UVAE has been extremely busy continuing our challenges to the provincial and federal governments regarding Deer Lodge Centre (DLC) and the quality of care for our veterans. We held a press conference in Winnipeg with Marianne and Magali in early August. We had families scheduled to attend the press conference to speak out regarding their concerns at DLC but the fear that they had for their loved ones and the potential impact to their care kept them from speaking out in the media.

UVAE had requested an independent investigation through the Minister of Veterans Affairs and highlighted this request to the media a few times and in late August, the Minister sent in a director to review things at DLC. I arranged meetings between DLC Veterans families and the director from VAC so that they had a place to raise their concerns that have been ignored by the CEO.

On August 22, 2019, it became official that the members at Deer Lodge Centre would no longer be represented by UVAE/PSAC. We are in a state of transition at this time and based on the commissioners’ recent update September 20th, it seems like the transition period will continue longer as the new charters have not been issued to date to the successor unions due to agreements not being achieved between PHLRS and the successor unions on the draft certificates. This is very hard for the executive at DLC as we were all under the understanding that the transition period would only be a few weeks and so the local starting closing things down in their local union office and packing up files to be transferred to the successor unions.

I have sent a letter to the Minister to follow up on the information provided to him through the director from the meetings with the veterans’ families and the visit to DLC. Regardless of who represents the members at DLC we will continue to be a voice for all veterans across Canada.

I would like to personally thank Marianne Hladun for all her support with DLC and her continued support as we work through the transition. This has been a time of continued uncertainty for our members at DLC with the implementation of Bill 29 and now the uncertainty for them is not knowing when their new unions will be starting to represent them which makes each of their days harder while they continue to focus on providing quality care to Veterans. One thing that UVAE/PSAC knows 100% is that we will continue to be there to represent the members at DLC until the commissioner issues the new charters. 

I want to thank the Deer Lodge Centre Local Executive and RVP for Deer Lodge Centre on behalf of UVAE for all their years of representation and hard work for the members. The Local Executive have not had the easiest of times with management/ HR dealings at DLC. 

With Veterans Affairs Canada, I am currently reviewing and updating the National Terms of Reference for Labour Management Consultation Committees for all levels across Canada with Corporate Labour Relations as the previous ones have not been reviewed or updated in close to 8 years.

VAC went through a governance change in one of our Directorates in April of this year and have asked the Union to change some of our formats of meetings to match their governance change and other updates required. There are still more discussions to be had on the National Terms of Reference and I am hopeful to have the final consultations with VAC completed before the New Year.

We continue to work on Mental Health Issues, Reg 20 complaints, accommodation issues, domestic violence situations, terminations for incapacity, increasing workloads and staff burnout.

As you know our department won a mental health award this year, though we, as a team have been challenging this as our department is not a workplace of choice yet and the mental health issues for our members and our clients are on the rise.

The burnout is real, the number of case files are still too high, areas are short staffed, need to hire more employees, and an increase of overtime in some directorates to name a few issues that I have been talking about with the department as well as in the media. I will continue to raise these issues in meetings and in the media until we get more staff and decrease the number of case files to an appropriate level.

We need to continue to work together at all levels local, regional and national to raise awareness of the issues that have an impact on our members and help effect the change we know is needed for our members. 

We have also seen an increase of delays within the Duty to Accommodate including where HR/management has misplaced previous approved accommodations and members are having to go through multiple more steps to keep or update their accommodation needs. We will continue to challenge management and human resources on these situations.

With everything going on I was not able to put full attention to the federal election with a full campaign, but we were not quiet during this federal election. I turned my focus to the federal election a bit ago and have created a brochure which was sent to all the RVPs to go out to our membership which highlights the parties record with our Veterans. We are going to hold the parties to their promises for our veterans. We have written to all federal party leaders to raise some key concerns within Veterans Affairs Canada and to ask some point questions about what they will do for our department and for our veterans if they are elected.

I only received responses back from the NDP and the Liberals. I was also interviewed by the media regarding the election and promises from the parties.

We have forged ahead with the redesign of the website and have run into a few delays, but we are working with the web designer to reach our end goal of a brand new, inviting, resource filled website.

We hired our new Financial Administration Officer who started on September 3, 2019. Our FAO has been trying to work with our auditor to finalize all adjustments required so that we can close our 2018 books. We are nearing the end of 2019 and will need to start our next audit within the next 5 months. We are hopeful to have the 2018 audit closed before our NEO in November. Our FAO has also been researching a new bank for the Component to move over to as per previous discussions and decision at NEO. We are looking at moving banks by January 2020.

We recently held two by-elections; one for Alternate RVP Atlantic and one for RVP Quebec and Alternate RVP Quebec. All positions have been successfully filled.

I would like to thank the NEO for all your support and hard work. We have had a lot of work over the past year and have made some great changes with NEO Committees, transparency, and increased communications.

Thank you for all your continued support. I will provide additional information during the reports at our NEO.

In Solidarity
Virginia Vaillancourt,
National President

UVAE National President Activities: May 1, 2019 to October 25, 2019

This list of activities does not include all meetings, consults, or teleconferences.

April 15-18, 2019 Winnipeg regarding DLC and local AGM and elections for Local 50022

April 24, 2019 -Initial meeting with website designer

April 25, 2019 – NBoD conference call

April 26, 2019 – Finalize 2017 audit with NEO

May 1, 2019 – NCCN NUMCC, FOUMCC,

May 2, 2019 – NBoD Special Meeting

May 6-10, 2019 – NEO meeting

May 23, 2019 – Attended Mike Wing Memorial Golf Tournament (Fundraiser for seeing eye dog organization)

May 25, 2019 – NBoD Conference Call

May 29, 2019 – Meeting with employer re Bill c65 and HR initiatives

May 29, 2019 – WebEx regarding Pay Insight

May 30, 2019 – Grievance hearing

May 31- June 2, 2019 – National Local Presidents Conference

June 4, 2019 – NUMCC

June 10, 2019 – Attended presentation by Senator Murray Sinclair

June 11-13, 2019 – Subject matter expert for Investigations Training for UCTE

June 17, 2019 – Component Presidents Meeting

June 18-20, 2019 – NBoD Meeting

June 19, 2019 – Meeting with Minister of VAC

June 19, 2019 – Interviewed by media

July 8-10, 2019 – Attended meetings in Penticton

July 10, 2019 – Grievance hearings

July 29, 2019 – Phoenix Staff Update Session

August 6-7, 2019 – Winnipeg regarding DLC

August 16, 2019 – NBoD teleconference

August 20th –  Attended rally at the Commissionaires’ head office and then at GDI Services. The Commissionaires who have been on strike since mid June with approximately 90 members of DCL Local 818, are comprised mostly   of veterans who are fighting the Corps of Commissionaires for paid sickleave. Members who provide cleaning services at Petawawa’s Canadian Forces Base have been on strike since July 25th, 2019 with approximately 83 members of UNDE Local 639, who are fighting for paid sick leave and to stop concessions to their Health and Safety provisions, staffing and benefits. Their employer, GDI Services, is a world-wide corporation with revenue of over $1 billion. Yet, they are refusing to bargain in good faith and when the Employment Standards Act was rolled back, they used this as an opportunity to further weaken the working conditions of our members. 

August 21-23, 2019 – Winnipeg re DLC

August 22, 2019 – Press Conference Winnipeg

August 25, 2019 – Attended Pride Ottawa and assisted with decorating PSAC float

August 30, 2019 – Special NBoD Meeting

September 2, 2019 – Attended labour day parade with PSAC and assisted with decorating float

September 4, 2019 – HR to Pay Stabilization Meeting

September 11, 2019 – Meeting in Scarborough local; meeting in Mississauga local; meeting with AD

September 12, 2019 – Attended APSAR AGM to present on UVAE

September 16 ,2019 – Attended UVAE Structure Committee

September 17, 2019 – Attended New Direction in staffing WebEx

September 19, 2019 – Attended half day Pension Seminar

September 20, 2019 – Convention bulletin review and prep & review agenda submissions for NEO

September 22-24, 2019 – Meetings in Saint John and Oromocto offices, interviewed by media

September 25-26, 2019 – Attended finance committee meeting

September 27, 2019 – Attended Compassion Fatigue session put on by UTE

October 4, 2019 – By-Law Committee meeting

October 18, 2019 – By-Law Committee meeting

October 22-25, 2019 – NBoD