I am presenting, in solidarity, the report on my activities to the 2021 Triennial Convention for the past three years. This report covers the period from September 2017 to October 2018 as Quebec Regional Vice President (RVP) as well as National Executive Vice President (NEVP) thereafter.
REGIONAL VICE-PRESIDENT, QUEBEC (RVP)
It is with great pleasure that I submit my report as Quebec Regional Vice-President, from September 2017 to October 2018. We have an incredible team in Quebec, and I am proud and pleased with the Quebec Executives’ dedication.
I coordinated visits with the Quebec locals including government offices. This was an opportunity for me to meet members from the Locals, to share with them the current issues at the national level and to discuss how members could support their union in our struggles for the respect and improvement of our working conditions.
It should be noted that duty to accommodate is a major issue both physically and psychologically. The Employer must constantly be reminded of their obligations and has been warned that there is zero tolerance for the violation of our members’ rights. We have indicated that we will take all necessary measures to ensure that our members are treated with respect and dignity.
I have worked on several level 2 and some level 3 grievance hearings (for French-speaking members) during that period. I also worked on Ste. Anne’s Hospital grievances. I participated in second level grievance hearings related to duty to accommodate and violence at work. The employer seems to both advocate a workplace free of all forms of discrimination and harassment, but on the other hand, we must fight for the rights of our members. Such hypocrisy makes no sense.
At the end of September 2017, I attended the UVAE Convention in Halifax. This convention was very enlightening and beneficial on many fronts. As Quebec RVP, I am very much in favor of the recommendation to have a bilingual Service Officer at the UVAE National Office. Having a unilingual National Office is highly problematic because it does not represent the entire membership. In the Quebec Region, we must duplicate efforts as compared with other regions where it is not necessary to translate exchanges with the UVAE National Office.
I will always promote equality and equity. Canada has two official languages and I feel it is important that our leaders demonstrate that efforts are being made to learn those two official languages.
On October 12 and 13, I attended the Quebec Federation of Labour’s Colloque en santé et sécurité du travail at the Delta in Trois-Rivières. More than 200 people were present. I shared information received at this Symposium with the Quebec Locals Executive members.
The Phoenix fiasco is another main issue. Even though the National Office administers the complaints regarding Phoenix, I must still forward the information in English, which takes up a lot of my time. I understand that I have the right to forward the information in my members’ official language, but I choose to translate so that our members are not penalized. It is in the best interest of the members I represent to summarize matters in English so that the National Office can understand them. Members in my region are mobilized and engaged on many levels and therefore disillusioned with the Phoenix fiasco.
I have given advice and guidance to Locals’ Representatives and offered help on issues related to their needs (interpretation of the collective agreement, duty to accommodate, union dues, grievances, etc.). Quebec members know that I am always at their disposal to address their concerns. We have exceptionally good communication in the Quebec region, based on respect and transparency.
I attended the PSAC National Triennial Convention held in Toronto from April 29 to May 4, 2018.
NATIONAL EXECUTIVE VICE-PRESIDENT (NEVP)
I served as interim NEVP from October 2018 to January 15, 2019. I became officially NEVP in January 2019 and I relocated to Ottawa on February 3, 2019. It is a big change in my life and quite an adjustment for my partner; the decision to relocate was made by both of us and I reside in Ottawa due to my partner’s and my family’s support.
I am extremely proud to serve our members from coast to coast in both official languages and to work closely with the National President, our RVP’s and the EOC.
The problems that our members are experiencing with the Phoenix Pay System are completely appalling and inhumane.
Our members deserve RESPECT, and the PHOENIX FIASCO is a DISGRACE for a country like CANADA. I participated in several Phoenix grievance hearings with the Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM).
With the members’ consent I submitted the synopsis of each Phoenix case to the Pay Transformation Centre and to the PSAC contacts for Phoenix for urgent and rapid action even before the grievance hearing.
I take part via conference call at least once a month for Phoenix case updates at Veterans Affairs Canada provided by the Charlottetown compensation team.
I work with the Compensation Team as well as PSAC concerning Phoenix errors regarding union dues deductions. I have had several communications with PSAC Team members as well as VAC Pay team to resolve those situations.
Phoenix is a major fiasco, and it is in no way the fault of the unions. On the contrary, unions from the beginning sounded the alarm and the employer called us alarmists. Today we see who had reason to be alarmed. I work on a regular basis with the VAC compensation team, with the PSAC team responsible for complex cases as well as with members directly to get the information I need to act on their behalf.
It is essential to get this information, not only to prepare myself for the grievance hearing, but also to send urgent action to the VAC Compensation Centre and/or PSAC.
Since I became NEVP, I have been remarkably busy working with all RVPs providing them with advice and guidance.
I have attended a few Annual General Meetings (AGMs) in person as well as by teleconference to provide an update on Phoenix, on ongoing grievances at the national level, as well as on bargaining and to answer questions from the membership. I have been involved in the union for over 15 years. I started out as a Local President and later became involved with both UVAE and PSAC at various levels. I am passionate about this contact with the members, listening to them, reassuring them, and especially defending them in these times of injustice and inequity in the workplace. That is why I am a union activist. The Union values of social justice, equality, and the fight to improve our working conditions are deeply rooted in me. I am deeply concerned about both the physical as well as the psychological well-being of our members. A workplace free of all forms of discrimination and harassment is an obligation for me, not wishful thinking.
I am responsible for the National Contact Centre Network (NCCN) portfolio. I have had labour-management meetings with this Branch to raise issues for our members. The minutes of these meetings are available.
As Chair of the Finance Committee, I would like to sincerely thank Lisa Nelson and Zarina Khan for their collaboration and their hard work. I would also like to thank our Finance Officer at UVAE for her invaluable assistance in the development and drafting of our new 2021-2023 budget. Our team has met a few times in person.
We have been busy preparing a new budget format with an explanatory document. Being a member of the Finance Committee is a great responsibility and working as a team makes it possible for us to succeed.
As NEVP, I am Co-Chair of the UVAE Joint Working Group on Harassment and Violence Prevention in the Workplace. This group is a sub-committee of the National Health and Safety Policy Committee.
The objective of the Harassment and Violence Prevention in the Workplace Joint Working Group is to carry out the consultative development of all Bill C-65 requirements, including the development of harassment and workplace violence prevention and incident resolution process within VAC in accordance with the final Regulations.
In addition, the Working Group shall:
participate in consultations regarding the workplace harassment and violence requirements of Bill C-65 including the development of the prevention policy and the resolution process;
participate in the planning and implementation of workplace changes resulting from Bill C-65 Requirements;
provide advice, guidance and recommendations to Senior Management through the National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Committee.
The working group has met a few times since November 2020 to prepare for the rollout of changes related to Bill C-65 and its effective date of January 1, 2021. An update on Bill C-65 was provided to VAC’s National Occupational Health and Safety Policy Committee (NOHPC) on February 11, 2021. Work is being done in collaboration between the employer and bargaining agents to implement these changes (NOSH).
I have attended several meetings of the NOSHC since September 2020. Since the expansion of the committee to include additional representatives in June 2020, there is a willingness to make the committee work properly for the benefit of our members from coast to coast. We have these meetings every month.
I would like to sincerely thank the UVAE members for their outstanding efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as your work is appreciated not only by your Union, but by all Canadians.
Our reality continues to be greatly challenged since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and more specifically since March 2020.
The antidote to this crisis is solidarity, which has been throughout history and remains today the essence of trade union action. All countries must join forces to overcome the pandemic of COVID-19 and prepare for the future. And the only way to do this is to plan and finance a fairer world where we can build jobs based on a living planet. This is what will drive the unions’ fight.
I was incredibly pleased to see the employer offer simultaneous translation to unilingual English persons; this shows a great effort as it is important to be able to express ourselves in the language of choice; it is also a RIGHT whether or not a person is getting the bilingual bonus.
I have attended many Webinars organized by PSAC, Quebec on teleworking, Phoenix compensation and systemic racism, the Quebec government’s Bill 59, and the impact it will have on federal employees in Quebec and pregnant women. I also attended a Webinar on the judicial aspect of teleworking organized by la Fédération des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec (FTQ).
I participate in several weekly meetings via MS Team and Skype with:
I am also the person responsible for three Facebook pages, two of which are public and one is private:
SEAC QUEBEC (private group)
UVAE EOC SEAC CAE (public group)
UVAE National Office SEAC National Office (public group)
On these three pages I share union news and news about equity and diversity from here and abroad.
Please note that my report was submitted in March 2021. I will gladly provide a verbal update for the remaining period at the 2021 convention.
I hope I have not omitted important information; it is difficult to document everything in a few pages. I remain at your disposal to answer any questions you may have at Convention and will be pleased to do so.
I end my report with a quote from Desmond Tutu that means a lot to me: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you choose to take the side of the oppressor.”