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Evidence of meeting #56 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was classification.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bibiane Ouellette  Clerk of the Committee , Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates
Susan Louis-Seize  Association of Compensation Advisors
John Gordon  National President, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Diane Melançon  Association of Compensation Advisors
Michael Brandimore  Association of Compensation Advisors
David Orfald  Director of Planning and Organizational Development, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Margaret Jaekl  Classification Officer, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Rob Walsh  Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel, House of Commons

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

One thing I would suggest, then, is that the clerk put together the written testimony that has been provided by these witnesses and others and compile it and give it to her as a starting point.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Absolutely. We could also give her all the correspondence I have received and anything else we have. She has already asked for the blues, I'm told.

I'll call the question.

(Motion agreed to) [See Minutes of Proceedings]

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Give her the blues as well, Madam Clerk. I know it takes time, but I think it would be helpful.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Okay.

Before they leave, Mr. Albrecht, did you want to ask them a question? We can continue. We also have Mr. Walsh waiting afterwards, but we have time.

June 7th, 2007 / 4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you to the witnesses for appearing today.

It's pretty obvious that we have a very complex situation. You mentioned the 70,000 rules and regulations and the 10,000 pages, and on and on. Earlier this week we had someone from Treasury Board Secretariat outline two very simple differentiations as to how this is working. One is a generalist—the pay advisor cares for all the different activities—and one is a specialist: it's farmed out, so to speak, to different specialists. It seems rather contradictory to me that on one hand, I think I heard Madame Melançon say, your advisors want to do all of it, and yet you have 70,000 regulations for that one person to do all of it. Help me understand why it wouldn't be helpful to have one person specializing on one issue and another on another. I'm just having trouble understanding that.

4:35 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

I know this is surprising to you, but most of us, the compensation advisors, the people I know, are very hard-working people. We care about giving excellent service. We don't believe in your calling this telephone line and getting a ticket number.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

So that's the sticking point, the 1-800 number, which then divides them.

4:35 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

Yes. And I know employees.... I know a compensation advisor who works at PWGSC and she is working right now on specific actings, overtime for employees. She had this employee ask, “Could you prepare a pension estimate for me if I wish to retire in three months?” And she was going to do it, because she believes in giving good service. She's from my department. She transferred there. And she was told, “Don't you dare. You are not allowed to do this. She's going to have to be given a ticket number and it's another section doing that, and that's it and that's all.”

That is not good service.

4:35 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Michael Brandimore

Can I add something to that too? I think the problem with when those are prepared, and we've run into this often, is that people don't understand the complexity of the work we do and they assume that all these things are unrelated. They're not unrelated at all. And as I mentioned earlier, in the departments that have gone that route, that's where the chaos is.

So it looks like, when you look at this, why would you not want to do that?

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

I think you've helped me understand that.

In your submission you mention under number 3 that an independent classification officer looked at the case in 2003 and would have reclassified you from AS-2 to AS-5. Could you help me understand what the difference is in terms of compensation between those two levels? Could you give me a range?

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

I'll give you an example. At Treasury Board an AS-2 is paid $51,989 a year. An AS-5 is paid $72,919 a year. This is the maximum of each level I'm looking at.

And right now the biggest problem is—and Treasury Board let this happen—Before, if we were under Treasury Board and you worked at an agency, say the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, we're doing the same thing, but you were at an agency, and you made maybe a few dollars less than we did at Treasury Board. Now some of these agencies are making $16,000 to $20,000 more a year. All the agencies are being paid more than we are, and we're all fighting to go to those departments. We don't want to stay under Treasury Board any more.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

And then further to that, back up to number 2 on your submission, you said that your jobs under this UCS reclassification would have gone to a PE. I'd like to just understand the gradation here. One is $51,000 and one is $72,000. PE is?

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

If I look at a PE-3, it's $69,303, and that's of today, but a PE-4 is $77,050. And that was confirmed by a PE who worked on the UCS. He confirmed that if this had gone through, we would have been PE-4s.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Thank you.

Just going on to another topic in terms of training, is there a system in place where the baby-boomers who are retiring, who have all this expertise, could continue on a part-time basis, a couple of hours a day or a couple of days a week, to help mentor some of the people who are coming in new? Is that a viable option?

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

In fact we have two retirees—

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Two people?

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

—two people in our section who are working right now, but there are not that many any more, because once they retire, with the present classification problem they don't want to come back.

But I wanted to point out something. It takes two years to train somebody in compensation. Two years is a lot.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

And that's on-the-job training?

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

On-the-job training and courses at the Public Service Commission. So it takes two years before they are reclassified from an AS-1 to an AS-2 level.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

And this is specifically unique to government compensation? This is not something they could pick up at a university or in a college course or some other way?

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

No, not at all, and even this new process of recruiting is the same thing. It takes two years, and then they will be reclassified. But even with two years of training you can't function on your own. There are too many laws, too many cases, dead cases you've never had to do, visibility cases, because we meet people when they're sick, we meet their families, we have to meet employees sometimes at the hospital, we deal with dead cases, we deal with everything.

So two years of experience is not enough for them. So if nobody does anything, it's only going to get worse. Just in our department, Industry Canada, within two years there will be five people leaving, fully trained compensation advisors leaving the department, and three managers, and we're a group of 41.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

That's a pretty high percentage.

Mr. Brandimore, did you want to speak?

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

So if we're going to be stuck with all trainees—

4:40 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Michael Brandimore

We do have people in most departments. I've been in several departments where people have retired and choose to stay on in some capacity. I like your idea of the mentoring, but they're not mentoring. The workload is so staggering that they are there doing the job and there's really no time to mentor.

Just to add to the two-year training, you can see in the retention element of recruitment and retention that we lose, honestly, about 60% of those people in that training period. Now they realize what's in store, and they're saying thanks, but no thanks.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

If I have two seconds, under number eight you're saying that a new pay advisor comes in at the same level as someone who has ten years' experience. Am I reading that correctly?