February 26, 2013

Firefighter Committee Minutes

UNDE FR Steering Committee


February 26, 2013



In Attendance


Randy Walker                          Chair

Blair Winger                            Alberta

Serge Debiens                          Ontario

Carl Darveau                           Quebec

Don Martin                             Halifax

Jeff Schwartzenberger             British Columbia

Orlando Hamm                       Saskatchewan

Neil Perry                                New Bruinswick

Liam McCarthy                       PSAC

Brendalee Blaney                    Staff Resource


The UNDE Harassment statement was read before the meeting commenced.

The meeting commenced at 9:00 a.m.

Brother Walker opened the meeting by referring to the agenda and handed the floor over to Brother McCarthy from the PSAC to speak on items 4, 6 and 9.

Brother McCarthy spoke to item 4 on the agenda – Update on Early Retirement Presentation by PSAC to Pension Advisory Board – he provided the committee members with copies of their presentation and stated this is still an item on the agenda and explained that items can sit there until someone activates it – it can be a standing item.  He then went on to state that as they were getting ready to pitch it, the Federal Government decided to move towards screwing the Pension Plan for the entire Public Service.   He indicated we were more likely to get something after we’ve done some lobbying and when they want votes.  He indicated it is probably going to be a bad budget and the 2014 might not be.  He indicated that it might be a more good news budget.  He stated it was not inconceivable to get something like this.

He also spoke to item three of the agenda – Pension Accrual Rate – He indicated there was another wrinkle, issue of 2.33% accrual – what happened – the IAFF, they pushed and got income tax room – next step to create pension plans – we are

caught in the middle – some groups in public service have better pension plans –move to get you a plan for 25 years and no penalty to retire and later go for the 2.33% accrual rate.  Federal government – all parties supporting allowing higher accrual rate – better pension for FRs but didn’t do it for their employees.  He suggested we send a message to the Feds – get political support – easy political issue.  He indicated there can be benefit going before JPAC (Joint Pension Advisory Committee).

Brother McCarthy then stated that there was nothing to stop you from talking about it at the table – we hear they can’t talk about it at the table and that we have to go before JPAC.  He indicated that if we were to get anything, we would have to go through the channel of elected politicians – put pressure on elected politicians and that there was not much faith in JPAC giving you something if they don’t have the political support.  Need to have consensus around position – put political pressure.  There are two (2) windows of opportunity:


  1. Target next budget – 2014 budget – Budget Implementation Act – have political ducks in a row
  2. JPAC late fall over winter – need things in place by January 2014 if want in the budget

He indicated we might want to talk to friendly politicians about strategy, i.e., Peter Stouffer, Jack Harris.  He then stated the JPAC is high level TB folks – they are an advisory board – they have a website which may have their schedule. JPAC about contribution rates right now – we need both sides on side to get improvement.

Brother McCarthy next spoke to item 6 on the agenda – FR Pay Study and 2014 Negotiations – he indicated we may have to file a policy grievance on Pay Study – past bargaining round did simply pay study – department did something similar – FRs quite straight forward– 23% gap – employer 18% gap settled with 4.5% – lot of groups including FRs grossly underpaid e.g., HPs – pulling teeth to get them to follow through – they (PSAC) threatened a policy grievance to get TORs– want pay data as close to expiry date as possible – August 2014 – have back up for the group – have own info again about what market looks like – if we can do that exercise again – there is another wrinkle – the PSLRB Compensation Analysis Research Service (CARS) is also conducting a pay study now, they have also launched a pay study – could be a problem with a pay study from PSLRB, TB and our own internal information and then expect something from Deloitte and Touche – good news/bad news for FRs – PSLRB doing a bunch of pay studies – government told them to try to get information at the table – related to Pay Equity issue – both sides now culpable – need wage data

The next item discussed was item 9 of the agenda – Changes in the FR contract April 2013 – Brother Winger questioned Brother Martin in regards to the use of FR apprentices at the 00 level – he inquired as to whether they performed high angle rescue task. Brother Martin went on to explain they spend 6 months at each 00 increment.  Brother McCarthy indicated that FR 00s were not being used.  Brother Martin indicated that they were being used more in Halifax under the Apprenticeship Program – they get extra bodies and it is paid out of the budget for apprentices.  Sister Blaney asked Brother Martin if he could provide her with either their letters of offer or terms and conditions of employment or both.

Brother McCarthy indicated that we were talking about different amounts of time to get to max of FR 01 and Brother Martin indicated that everyone comes in through the apprenticeship program.  Brother Winger then stated that it then takes them an extra year.  Brother Schwartzenberger indicated that we need to look at if we are all the same or different.  He then indicated that the military comes in at top rate, highest increment of FR01.  Brother Winger then asked what if someone else working elsewhere -what do they get paid.  Brother McCarthy indicated that we have a clear training program and Brother Martin stated that some use Borden and some don’t.  Brother Winger went on to state that its equivalent – the DAOD lays out what you need.  Brother Darveau stated that they hire military that have to work through the increments.  Brother McCarthy indicated that one can be appointed above the lowest increment level and that it is used to retain folks and is based on qualifications.  Brother Martin indicated there were 8 guys in his area that were going to take a $2,800.00 pay cut.

Brother McCarthy reiterated that ultimately the last three increments were increased and if one considers their job as a career, they are better off for the deal as they were able to make arguments for getting the maximum levels increased.  He also indicated the recruitment rate is still high and then we lose them.  Brother Winger indicated that we needed to compare the top rates with their top rates and that we didn’t want to compare bottom rates as our starting rates are high.   Brother McCarthy indicated that it is at the top rates where most folks spend the majority of their careers and it is a short term pain.  Recruitment rates reasonable and that a hit was taken for the benefit of the group overall.  Most of their career will be spent at the last step and that the last step was the focus – we can build on the last step.  It was the same thing with the National Rates of Pay – we wanted to harmonize to the highest amount.  If the folks stick around, it’s in their best interest.

Brother McCarthy indicated he would be leaving on parental leave for the period March 2013 to January 2014 and David Leblanc would be replacing him.  Brother McCarthy indicated he would provide Brother Leblanc’s email and Sister Blaney would forward to the committee.  (Note:  here is Brother Leblanc’s email address:  lebland@psac-afpc.com

Brother Winger next spoke on item 4 of the agenda – Presumptive Cancer – he stated that it is now covered in Alberta.  Brother Winger provided the committee members with two handouts – WCB Worker Fact Sheet – Firefighters with cancer and Alberta Regulation 102/2003 (with amendments up to and including Alberta Regulation 73/2001) – Workers’ Compensation Act – Firefighters’ Primary Site Cancer Regulation.  Brother Winger also directed the members to a contact number for Dianna Miller (780) 498-3891.   For those provinces where there is no existing coverage under WC, Brother Winger indicated they should contact her if needed.  The presumption made is that if you’re a firefighter and have cancer, its’ related to your job.  Brother Deveau queried as to whether he should call her and Brother Winger suggested he call WCB in Quebec and find out why they are not covered.  It was identified that P.E.I., Newfoundland and Quebec don’t current have presumptive cancer coverage.    He also indicated they are trying to push it through the FR Wellness Committee as well.  Brother Hamm indicated WCB can change and Brother Winger reiterated that it required provincial action.  Brother Hamm then queried as to whether federal FRs were just covered in Alberta and Brother Deveau queried as to what exactly the coverage was for.  Brother Winger indicated pension, medication, their family is covered in the event of the FRs passing – it is classified as if they had passed on the job.

At this point of the meeting Brother John MacLennan joined the committee.  Brother Walker welcomed Brother MacLennan and noted he would be speaking to item 5 on the agenda – FR Separate Bargaining Group – Brother MacLennan had indicated that he was given documents 3 weeks ago – IE transformation – going to contract out all support services – O&M away from Base Commanders – funding from SWE controlled by IE – its been a rough month and a half – he was called out by IE in Esquimalt in October – Fire Suppression Systems – big one like in Borden, sprinkler systems, alarm systems – work that is our work – awarded contracts in Alberta – Tyco – fire hall in Wainwright not big threat yet – decision to be made to renovate and tear down and rebuild or just tear down – we have fewer buildings in LF (Land Forces) bases – another point –in another large document – the whole mapping of LF – not very interesting – reeks of contracting out – get rid of the Public Service –the government wants to get as much public service jobs to private sector – working on a strategy for the Army right now – we trying to save jobs while the government wants to go corporate – believe that in the end there will be a public service but it won’t be that big.  He indicated the FR community pretty safe right now – they will contract out some stuff.  He also indicated the Auditor General indicated there are problems.  Brother Schwartzenberger indicated to the committee that Dupont would step in there tomorrow and Brother MacLennan stated not to rule it out.

Brother MacLennan then went on to talk about the FRs breaking away from the table (item 5 of the agenda).  He indicated everything is timing – he spoke about Bill 377 and the unions obligation to disclose its financial information – indicated they are trying to flush out how much goes into political campaigns – trying to put unions in the fight for our lives – Harper going to introduce legislation to remove Rand – 30% want union – 40% don’t want union  – 30% don’t care – if we lose Rand formula we lose Collective Bargaining, representation and that will affect staff, affect how we operate – bottom line there is a campaign coming up that will last till the end of May.  Member’s will have the right to work and that’s it – they want to get rid of unions – younger generation might not be staying – petition there to break away – how can we prove or defend that the FRs are not getting fair representation – last round FRs got more than anybody else, we were successful against the PT test, is right now the right time to ask this question with downsizing and the attack on the Rand Formula.

Brother Winger indicated it would be a group of 500 guys (and gals) counting on the good will of the employer – we want and need to have everybody at the table on our side.  Brother Martin indicated this was borne out of presumptive cancer, accrual rates, etc., and that we couldn’t even get it to the table.  Brother Winger replied that a consensus is needed at the table to back specific issues and this was accomplished last round.

Brother McCarthy indicated that there was an advantage – at the table you can present your issue and the disadvantage was that there was not much power behind the issues.  He indicated the SV group as a group has a lot of power – the challenge is to make sure you have a couple of things in there – try to focus on one thing – money – period of nickel and diming – you want to make sure at the end of the process the whole bargaining team is focused – the past round was focused on shift premiums for FOSs, money for FRs and Ships Crews – this round HPs will have a push.  Brother MacLennan indicated HPs are operational as are the FRs.  Brother McCarthy indicated that if all goes well we should have a pay study in hand – group specific market adjustment.  Brother MacLennan indicated we can prove with pay study that it is cheaper to use public service employees – we are in for the fight of our lives – can’t have member jumping to MP like that – have to come away with some consensus – not in best interest to break away.  Brother Martin – presumptive cancer, enhanced accrual – we can continue to work towards that – early retirement – do these first then look at this later down the road.  Brother MacLennan indicated there are too many unknowns right now.  Brother Desbiens indicated that the upcoming pay study will be three pronged – we will look good.


Brother Winger indicated that anything that has to be done has to have a national approach.  Presumptive cancers need to be done regionally but with National Office knowing.  Brother MacLennan indicated the feds can’t tell the provinces – we had the attention of the FMs office on this.  Brother Winger stated that once the provinces are on board, there is a domino effect.    The following discussion then ensued.

Brother Schwartzenberger stated WCB in BC doesn’t pay anyone, Brother MacLennan stated feds pay into WCB and Brother McCarthy stated they use IOD leave instead of WCB – costs them less –they were told by TB costs for WCB are 110% of payroll – IOD just paying 100% – he indicate that as a result of the 2006 PSAC convention the ships crews had a demand to form their own table.  Following convention mandate this was attempted – Andrew Raven argued that they were a different group and their issues fell by the wayside at the table – it was an expensive process to go through – we won our argument however the adjudicator set the bar so high that unless it was the Employer who applied to do it….– there is jurisprudence now that says what’s required to get there – the bar is high – it would be tough to prove – truth of last round – group of 500 still had issue that market review is still outstanding.  Brother Schwartzenberger then stated that we have to go back and tell group – can’t get it through – not good for us, we do have a voice at the table and Brother Walker indicated that it’s hard to say you want your own table when you’re being represented at the table.


Brother McCarthy then wanted to go back and pick up on something Brother Desbiens had stated – there is a pay study coming up – we at least want to possibly experience upside of the pay study – the pay study is for larger group but are part of larger group – now is not the time.  Brother Martin queried about early retirement.  Brother Winger indicated that lobbying efforts should continue the same with the presumptive cancer issue.  Liam indicated that we are likely to get movement provincially that could put pressure on both levels.  Brother Martin indicated that he would like to see every FR federally get there and Brother Winger indicated that a few provinces are on board and to take it to the CFFM’s office that we are a National fire service.  We have a group here, we work democratically – before these guys go off Brother Walker and Brother MacLennan need to know, the guys have to understand that.  We will get further together than if we are splintered.  Brother Walker stated that we can do lobbying provincially and for the pension and accrual issue, wait for the 2014 budget timelines.  Brother McCarthy reiterated that we need to clarify with Stouffer – is he asking the question once and if he’s willing to ask another later well then that’s OK.  We definitely want it after the budget.

Brother Walker then stated that Brother MacLennan had already spoken to item one (1) on the agenda – Real Property Management – Inspection/Maintenance of Fire Suppression System.  There is an understanding that some inspections need to be done by 3rd party and meeting are taking place with ADM IE with another meeting schedule for either the 3rd or 4th week of March.  Brother Schwartzenberger spoke to the issue of contracting out stating the guys are talking about putting together a proposal since the VP of the region provided them with the business case course and it was a good course.  Brother Walker indicated he was aware of a couple of success stories and some are just sitting on someone’s desk.  Brother Winger suggested the focus has switched and they are pretending its cost savings while it is clearly union busting.

Brother Winger then went on to speak to item 3 – Pension Accrual Rate – he went over the email he sent (and provided to the committee members) dated 29 January 2013.  He indicated Mr. Goodale could be an important contact for the FRs in moving ahead on this issue.  Brother Martin 6 or 8 go to people on the issue of presumptive cancer issue – can’t get better than the person who sponsored the bill on the 2.33% accrual issue.  Brother Winger informed the committee that if they Google M388 one would be able to see who voted in favour or against the Motion.

Brother Martin then spoke to the item 8 on the agenda – Political Action – Brother Martin provided the Committee with an update on Political Action.  A discussion ensued as to who sat on the JPAC for PSAC.  He indicated that he hoped that by January or February the PSAC would be prepared to go before the committee.  He indicated he understood that the separate bargaining table was being left alone for the time being.  Brother Winger reiterated again that presumptive cancer can be addressed in each province.

Brother Perry then spoke to item 8 on the agenda – use of Casuals to fill OT – he indicated the employer was using casuals to fill overtime – they are paid straight time.  Sister Blaney spoke to the provisions of the CA and stated that the employer cannot use casuals to fill overtime opportunities in order to negate their responsibilities to the members of the bargaining unit in terms of overtime.  A lengthy discussion ensured around the use of casuals.  It was identified that casuals are being used in this fashion in Dundurn, Quebec and New Bruinswick.  It was noted that apprentices are being used in Halifax.   Sister Blaney indicated she would send the committee members link(s) on the definition of casuals.  (Note:  the following links are provided – http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/P-33.01/page-12.html#h-18) is from the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) and describes what defines the length of employment of casuals.  The Treasury Board (TB) site provides a definition of casuals in the Appendix to the Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment (http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/pol/doc-eng.aspx?id=15772&section=text) while part 4 of the Appendix speaks to the Terms and Conditions of Employment for Casuals (and terms less than 3 months). This last link http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/faq/ocas-eng.asp ; is a list of questions and answers specific to casuals.

Brother Desbiens then spoke to item 10 on the agenda – 24 hour schedule – he indicated that in Borden they had threatened to take away the 24 hour schedule due to overtime costs and training not getting completed.  He indicated they are waiting for one fire hall to fall then all will fall.  A lengthy discussion ensued around the origins of the 24 hour schedule and that it was done to alleviate excessive overtime costs to the employer.  Some felt this was just a threat.

Brother Martin then went on to ask about sick leave and certification and the employer developing a policy.  A lengthy discussion ensued surrounding the employer’s ability to make a blanket statement.  Sister Blaney indicated that the employer has to have a valid, justifiable reason to require to an employee to provide medical certification every time they are sick such as a pattern of abuse of sick leave and that the employer cannot make a blanket policy that affects a group of individuals simply because one individual may have a problem.

Brother Walker thanked everyone for coming and contributing to the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 p.m.