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

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

That is Canada Public Service Agency.

4:25 p.m.

National President, Public Service Alliance of Canada

John Gordon

Yes, they just changed the name, but the legal term is still that.

They have to put the resources into it to make it work, and they have to sit down and come to the table. It was more than a year ago that they signed a letter saying that they would work within six months with us, and then we heard no more about it. Then we went after them, and so on and so forth. There are a lot of players.

We are knocking on the door on a regular basis trying to get them to move on it, and it's just a very difficult thing to do.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Do you want to add something, Mr. Brandimore, to that?

4:25 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Michael Brandimore

Yes, I do.

Basically, I want to say that people in the compensation community are asking the exact same question that you're asking. I'm going to give just a really brief rundown on a handout that we have, if you'd like to have it.

This community has spent the last seven years attempting to have a fair and equitable classification resolution using every avenue available to us. There have been departmental grievances, Treasury Board submissions, a human rights complaint, and finally a submission of AS round-table reports by our union. Still, after seven years, it's amazing--we're all sitting there.

I've been involved in the Human Rights Commission a little bit with the AS round table, and a little bit with lawyers who have been involved in this. It's amazing—we have yet to sit in front of an individual or a group of people who—They say that they see our point, they understand our point, but that it's not in their hands to do it. The departments are saying they can't do it—reclassify—individually as departments; it has to be done nationally. Treasury Board has come back and said that is not the case at all, that the departments have every right to do it, and that they only got involved so that it would be fair and above board, and everyone could see what was going on.

I'm obviously not answering your question, but I'm backing up. We have had the same question for over seven years. They know what the problem is, and it's not addressed.

June 7th, 2007 / 4:30 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Too bad we didn't hear your presentation before our witnesses on Tuesday, because on Tuesday we had Mr. Rick Burton, vice-president of the human resource management modernization branch of Canada Public Service Agency, and Phil Charko, assistant secretary, pensions and benefits from Treasury Board. These are questions we could have put to them if we had heard your presentation first, but there are still questions we have.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Thank you, Ms. Nash.

We'll now go to Ms. Simard.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I'd like to thank the witnesses for being here this afternoon.

Madam Melançon, can you tell me when the classification structure was established? Was it established 10 years ago, 15 years ago? Has it been reviewed recently?

4:30 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

I think it was 1965 or 1964 when we had our classification.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Was there a major review at some point?

4:30 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Diane Melançon

At one point, yes, there was a slight review.

I think she can answer this.

4:30 p.m.

Margaret Jaekl Classification Officer, Public Service Alliance of Canada

Perhaps I can help you. I am a classification officer with the Public Service Alliance, formerly with the government.

The standard for the administrative services group, which is where these positions are currently classified, was established about 1965 as part of the original set of classification standards for collective bargaining in the Public Service. It has never been reviewed.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Chair, I guess the Tuesday meeting was very frustrating for us. We had witnesses who didn't seem to have the answers we required. We're talking about employees here who aren't getting paid for three months. We're talking about employees who are being promoted and not getting their additional funding. It seems that we're also getting departments that are kind of passing the buck. We're not sure who's responsible. They're not sure who's responsible.

My concern is this. I don't want to prevent my colleagues from speaking on this, and we can keep going, but I will be presenting a motion. I'm really concerned that we're going to be gone for the next three or four months. By the time our committees are reactivated, and by the time we get witnesses from different departments, we won't be dealing with this issue until next spring. I think that's too long.

I'm going to make a recommendation that the Auditor General get involved in this with some sense of urgency. I think we should also forward this. It just seems to me that at this point, it's getting ridiculous. We're hearing about this not through official channels; we're hearing about it through employees who are coming to us or are calling our MPs' offices.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Let me just add something. It might be possible for us to invite her, if you are willing, next week to one of our meetings. Perhaps we can discuss it with her then. There may be other people we can invite, as well.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

That would be great.

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Go ahead, Mr. Brandimore.

4:30 p.m.

Association of Compensation Advisors

Michael Brandimore

When you were talking about people being afraid to come forward, I have to tell you that it has not been easy for people in the compensation community, for the same reason.

I know that we don't want to get anecdotal here, but I attended a forum specifically on retention and recruitment, and Sylvie Joseph, from Treasury Board, attended that and told us in the first 15 minutes that we were not there to discuss classification. The entire thing was to bring compensation people together, and they were going nationwide to get our opinions on what would be the resolution to this. Classification was not even to be discussed.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Madam Chair, if we're on the topic and I have a motion in both officials languages, is it in order?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

It is, because we are discussing the topic. Did you want to allow other people to speak? You have to be speaking to present the motion.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

I am speaking. That's why I'm doing it now, because I may not get another opportunity.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Your motion is that....

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

The motion is that given the lack of satisfactory information providing assurance to the committee that the employee compensation delivery system is functioning as it should, and given the number of errors reported by government employees in the recent past, the chair be authorized to send a letter to the Auditor General asking her to examine this file and make recommendations as to how federal public employees can be paid properly and on time.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Before we go forward, do you want a letter, or do you want us to invite her?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Simard Liberal Saint Boniface, MB

Let's invite her.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Diane Marleau

Mr. Bonin.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Bonin Liberal Nickel Belt, ON

I would like to respond to that. If the Auditor General comes here as an invited guest, she can only say “Oh, is that so?” She is the expert. She should look into it. All we can do is tell her what we've heard here. But she needs to get into the heart of it and find out what the problem is. I don't think she can contribute. She probably could; she's a smart lady.