CAPE meets with Head of Treasury BoardJanuary 22, 2020
(The article was edited January 23, 2020)
22 January 2020 - OTTAWA – Last Thursday, January 16th, a delegation from the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) led by its President, Greg Phillips, met with the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, the President of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and his team. They were also joined by Greg Fergus, the Parliamentary Secretary to the President of Treasury Board and to the Minister of Digital Government.
It had been several years since CAPE had met with any TBS President to discuss issues affecting its membership. The meeting took place at CAPE’s request and focused mostly on Phoenix, pension reform, the collective bargaining process, and labour union outreach and consultation. Plans for future meetings were also discussed.
“The meeting with Minister Duclos and his team was crucial in order to raise issues of importance to our members and put them on top of his agenda prior to MPs returning to the House of Commons next week” said Phillips. “This is the first of a series of meetings CAPE plans to have with other key government ministers, MPs, and opposition critics as we continue to hold the government to account.”
Phoenix among issues covered
The Phoenix pay system debacle continues to affect thousands of CAPE members despite some improvements. During the exchange, CAPE communicated its members’ frustration around the persistent ongoing problems caused by the defective and unreliable pay system pressing Minister Duclos to stay closely involved, and to urgently replace Phoenix.
Pension reform was also top of mind and a point covered during the meeting. In recent years, both Liberal and Conservative governments had talked about public service pension reforms causing alarm bells to go off within the public service community. In October 2016, the previous Liberal government had introduced Bill C-27, which never became law as it died when the federal election was called in September 2019. However, during the elections, rumors surfaced that some parties would be inclined to reopen this file. CAPE made it very clear to Minister Duclos that changing the pension plans is a non-starter and thoughts to change the federal public service pension plans from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan would be met with fierce opposition.
Upon reviewing the last round of collective bargaining with Minister Duclos, CAPE recommended the creation of a joint committee to do a post-mortem. The purpose being to adopt a clear bargaining protocol before entering the next round of bargaining to reduce risks of communications breakdowns during the process. During the last round of bargaining, CAPE’s bargaining team lamented the lack of agreement on essential procedural matters which eventually caused unnecessary delays, frustration and forced the parties to seek mediation from the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.
CAPE has been quite public about criticizing the government on its lack of consultation with labour unions and reiterated that point to Minister Duclos, citing Phoenix as the perfect example of what failure to consult can lead to. CAPE recognized recent efforts by the Treasury Board Secretariat to engage in constructive discussions but urged the Minister to ensure that the government regularly consult labour unions on projects and initiatives likely to affect and impact federal employees. CAPE identified Beyond2020, Activity Based Work Environment and future public service employee surveys as good starting points.
A few other issues were covered during the meeting, and more importantly, a commitment was made on both sides to hold further meetings to discuss potential solutions to ongoing problems and challenges.
Government relations reboot for CAPE
In 2020, CAPE hopes to dramatically increase interactions with the government to make sure its members’ interests remain a government priority. The meeting with Minister Duclos was the first of a series of meetings with key government MPs and opposition critics. While many of these meetings will take place in Ottawa, CAPE is working towards a series of meetings with members involved in various MPs’ ridings across the country during their constituency weeks.
Stay tuned for more updates on CAPE’s government relations and advocacy activities as we ramp up our efforts to continue to advocate on your behalf.
Greg Phillips - President
Claude Danick - Director of Policy
Dina Epale - Senior Advocacy and Public Affairs Advisor
Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos President of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Greg Fergus Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and to
the Minister of Digital Government
Marjorie Michel Chief of Staff Office of the President of the TBS
Dylan Marando Director of Policy Office of the President of the TBS