July 23, 2014

Firefighter Committee Minutes

UNDE FR Steering Committee


July 23, 2014



In Attendance


John MacLennan                     National President

Randy Walker                         Chair

Blair Winger                            Co-chair

Serge Debiens                          Ontario

Carl Darveau                           Quebec

Don Martin                             Halifax

Ron LaRoy                              British Columbia

Orlando Hamm                       Saskatchewan

Neil Perry                                New Bruinswick

Brendalee Blaney                    Staff Resource

Brother MacLennan opened the meeting at 8:15 a.m. and welcomed everyone – he stated UNDE has a problem with the test – he also highlighted that there has been no consultation

-he then indicated that Andrew Raven was there for the Barr Flannery PSLRB decision in 2006 and that he would be coming to speak to the group – he also indicated that Brother Elder would be giving a presentation to the group on “The Fire Service Joint Labour Management Wellness-Fitness Initiative developed by the IAFF – he also indicated that the UNDE FR Steering Committee is attempting to re-convene in September and that UNDE was being proactive towards this initiative – he encouraged the group to take advantage of Andrew Raven being here and to ask him any questions the group may have

-he also spoke to the group about a current problem facing the FRs in that if they lose their civilian drivers licence for any reason that affects the ability to retain a DND 404 and FRs could lose their jobs as a result – he indicated that he is in discussions with the ADM in the department on this issue as they had not spoken to the bargaining agent on this issue that took effect 1 July 2013 – he also indicated that UNDE currently has an active grievance file on this issue – it was further explained that depending on the infraction, termination can be the first step in disciplinary action

-Andrew Rave then address the group and offered the following in relation to the Barr Flannery PSLRB decision of 2006:

-he explained there was a preliminary challenge by the employer in which they sought to have the grievance was found premature as the grievors were not subjected to adverse reaction in relation to the test – he they explained that he argued that the test on its face was discriminatory and it was heard at adjudication – a lot of expert testimony was called and he explained that in relation to the witness testimony they are allowed to express their  opinion and an adjudicator cannot assess that without expert testimony – witness has to be independent in order to ensure reliability and objectivity – only independent witness Peterson – professor out of Alberta can ask for drafts of expert reports – ask for drafts to see how opinion evolved over time – he made reference to Meiorin test wherein the SCC developed a 3 part test – the fitness test was found to meet the first two components of the test i.e., test was rationally connected to objective in the performance of firefighting and it was done in honest, good faith – the third portion of the test addressed the following question:  “Is the eight-minute standard reasonably necessary to accomplish this legitimate work-related purpose”?   The Barr Flannery decision goes on to state:  “Following Meiorin, workplace standards must be designed to reflect all members of society insofar as is reasonably possible.  Standards must reflect the differences between individuals and differences that characterize groups of individuals.  Otherwise, such standards are discriminatory under the CHRA and must not be used.”    The adjudicator declared the fitness test was not a BFOR and “the requirement that firefighters complete the Fitness Program circuit in eight minutes is a prima facie discriminatory standard on the basis of age and sex.”

-Andrew went on to state that for any new test the onus is on the employer to prove what they couldn’t prove in 2006 decision – also, the employer has to prove it cannot accommodate discriminatory impact on women and older workers beyond undue hardship – the employer has to demonstrate direct link – with compelling evidence – that if you don’t meet this test, you can’t do job – this is a tough burden for the employer to achieve – if they claim age 28 is the standard, then they can’t hire women, folks over 40etc – if they did that …. – with the CFFM listen for evidence of undue hardship – they have to prove that – not us – he also indicated there is no obligation for the employer to jointly develop a policy

Brother Elder then delivered a presentation on certain components of the Fire Service Joint Labour Management Wellness-Fitness Initiation from the IAFF – he prefaced his comments by indicating is was for informational purposes only and was not a proposal

-he explained the initiative was jointly developed by IAFF and IAFC – joint labour management and was in its 3rd edition  – it was noted that both Halifax and Esquimalt are affiliated with the IAFF and since there are affiliation fees being paid, we can use the document for information purposes

-prior to going into the details of the Initiative, Brother Elder spoke to the e-mail from the CFFM dated 14 July 2014 (a copy had been provided to all committee members) – the CFFM’s office makes reference to a document entitled Revision of the Standard for the Canadian Forces Firefighter Physical Fitness Maintenance Evaluation (FF PFME) final report dated May 2, 2013 – he is pointed out that the study was done for CF firefighters  and either way it’s a test – everywhere else it is not a test –it is an assessment – tests are punitive – he also stated that the medical test for the FRs is terrible and for the CFFM it’s all about a test – he indicated that there is a entry Candidate Physical Fitness Test – after that there are assessments – all not punitive – CFFM deciding to go in a different direction – in the forward to the Initiative it states:  “… Fire chiefs and IAFF local union presidents participating in the Fire Service Joint Labour Management Wellness-Fitness Initiative have contributed to developing an overall wellness-fitness system with a holistic, positive, rehabilitating and educational focus. …  They have committed to moving beyond negative timed, task-based performance testing to progressive wellness improvements. …” – he went on to indicate that we don’t hear about rehabilitation in our system – he also pointed out that “time-tasked based performance test – such as piecemeal approaches have failed to produce universally acceptable and productive results.”

-he then read from the Mission Statement identified in the Initiative and pointed out that it was very different from the CFFM’s proposal which has no buy-in – he also indicated that if there were no punitive action, we wouldn’t be sitting here today

Brother Winger spoke to the thoroughness of medicals in the Initiative was impressive and that the foundation of wellness is a sound medical

-In chapter 1 of the Initiative it states:  “The intention of the WFI is that its implementation should be a positive individualized program that is non-punitive.  All component results are measured against the individual’s previous examinations and assessments and not against any standard or norm.”

-The Initiative goes on to state:  “The responsibility for a wellness-fitness program is not simply the responsibility of management, but should have union input and co-operation in the process.  Without union participation in establishing such a program there will be limited or no member “buy in” to the program.  A wellness-fitness program must be collaborative between labour and management and is education and rehabilitative and not punitive in nature”

-chapter two of the publication deals with medicals and Brother Elder identified the various elements evaluated:

  • Body composition
  • Blood analysis
  • Urine analysis
  • Pulmonary Evaluation
  • ECG
  • Cancer screening
  • Immunizations; and
  • Infectious Disease screening

Brother Elder also spoke to Peer Fitness Trainers and indicated that’s where you get “buy-in”


-the CFFM indicated his proposal was just a vision her was tabling here and he was open to validation or changes to the vision – he indicated there was no need to re-hash the past and that he believes in healthy FRs able to do their job and colleagues are not jeopardized – he was looking for a way for it to be implemented in a way of “buy-in” – non punitive – on the MIL side of the house they are getting on with it – on the civilian side – not the same boat – he believes in the value of annual evaluation and the question is how do we do that – let’s look at a plan

Brother Elder indicated to the CFFM that he like the words the CFFM used such as Wellness-Fitness Initiative, everything non-punitive, educational etc.,

The CFFM indicated that it can be prescribed through PSP – fitness obtained or set up to be obtained and Brother Elder indicated that in the IAFF Initiative, they removed the negative timed test –they do preventative evaluation – CPAT – and the research was conducted over a 20 year period

The CFFM indicated he was familiar with the publication and that he was open to anything – annual medical – annual fitness assessment

Brother MacLennan indicated that there was some history here and we want to be part of the solution and the IAFF document was more labour friendly – he indicated the IAFF Initiative was our preferred option – he also indicated we were interested in the composition of a committee and that FRs know they have to be fit – he also indicated to the CFFM that we wanted to pitch a presentation tentatively in September for an interest based management/union approach – that we were being proactive

Brother Elder then indicated to the CFFM that the foundation of wellness initiative is the medical and the CFFM asked what was lacking from Health Canada perspective – it is up to the individual to identify any issues and that the system was built to work if used properly – Brother Elder pointed out that there is no blood analysis, no urine analysis, no ECG, no pulmonary testing and that the test was based on age and it should not be – he indicated the IAFF Initiative provided for cancer screening for 10 different types of cancers, it provided immunization screening, infectious disease screening and that while there is a  cost associated, it is cost effective in the long run buy early detection up front –

-previous attempts to address the shortfalls in the current DND testing was also discussed and it was stated that we have always felt we were just getting “lip service” and that no efforts were being made to address the issue – Brother Elder reiterated against that the IAFF Wellness Initiative was jointly developed and non-punitive and queried as to whether or not the CFFM would be interested in going that route and hopefully he was – he also indicated we needed something more peer driven with confidential results and that with this, people would participate – it was felt that the driving force behind the employer’s proposal was that it was a tool to hammer who they wanted to hammer – following some discussions surrounding confidentiality and punitive outcomes, the CFFM reassured the committee it will not go like it did in the past

Brother MacLennan restated his desire to reconvene tentatively in September, 2014 and that volunteers would be selected from the FR Steering Committee to participate in the CFFM’s committee to address this issue to which the CFFM indicated that he would step away from the committee to let it do its work – Brother MacLennan indicated that UNDE would write a letter of agreement in principle to the development of a joint committee and that we would use the ghost dated given for September

Brother Elder indicated there are 5 assessments – not just ours that could be used and the CFFM indicated that the committee will need to discuss what “punitive” means – do we need to look at how fire hall is modelled to look at accommodation and Brother Winger indicated that it would be nice to have somewhere to place someone requiring accommodation instead of just kicking them to the curb – Brother MacLennan thanked the CFFM for his attendance and input

Brother MacLennan then addressed the FR Steering Committee and indicated UNDE will send 4 representative (3 reps and a co-chair) and that everything discussed at that committee has to come to the FR Steering Committee – no-one (UNDE union rep) has the authority to make any decisions – it has to come back to the FR Steering Committee

Brother Winger (excluding himself) nominated Brothers Elder, Darveau and Hamm to be the representatives and following a vote, Brother Debiens was elected as the co-chair representative

Brother MacLennan then indicated that once we see the TORs we will contest that the Deputy CFFM has to be there


Brother Winger – any questions on negotiations just contact him or Brother Desbiens

Brother Desbiens –thanked the group for his election to the committee

Brother Martin – spoke to a policy at his workplace that they will no longer get acting pay until they have worked 24 hours – Brother Martin to send policy to Brendalee who will follow up

Brother Walker – thanked the group for their work over the past few years and indicated in will not be running for re-election as he will retire next year

The group thanked Brother Walker for his work with them and wished him well for his retirement.

The meeting adjourned at 4:00 p.m.