Thanks for the question, Madam May.
There are a couple of pieces I think I need to address on your question that I'm hoping will be helpful.
In the first case—and as I said, I will go into this in more detail later on—our ability at this point to enter into collective bargaining with the three associations that are currently in place for PPS is very limited. The legal advice I have is based on the law that created PPS, the Parliament of Canada Act. Within a certain period of time after the creation of PPS the employer or any of the parties had the opportunity to go to the PSLREB, the labour board, and make application to ascertain the number of bargaining units that will be part of PPS.
That application was made in 2015. The legal advice that I have received is that I cannot enter into collective bargaining until the PSLREB makes that decision, so we have been seeking alternatives into what we can do in the meantime. I'm as frustrated as anybody else with the delays. We did have our first hearing—last week, in fact—with the PSLREB on exactly that. I am hopeful that it can be resolved in reasonably short order, but there are further hearings required. In the meantime, the legal advice I'm getting is that I cannot collectively bargain. We have therefore been actively seeking alternatives to collective bargaining, actively looking for potential means of solving specific issues outside of the collective bargaining world.
In terms of the members of the former House of Commons security services who are now PPS employees and those who were involved in the incident on October 22, 2014, absolutely I agree with you that these people are to be commended. They are professional. They are proud, and they have every right to be. I certainly wouldn't want to say anything that would lead anybody to believe that I have nothing but the greatest respect for what they did, and what they do every day to keep this place safe, but the other issue is that we have a dress and deportment policy that was created in consultation with all three associations. Any alteration to the uniform is in violation of that policy.
When this first started in June, prior to Canada Day, I had newly arrived at the end of May. I started in this position at the end of May and I was very open to looking for alternative solutions and, as such, was very flexible in terms of any discipline at the time. I didn't want to go there at the time. Since that time, we were able to provide the former House of Commons security services employees, who are currently represented by SSEA, with the economic increase that was part of an agreement before PPS was created in 2014. That was part of the action I took in June. We got them that economic increase. I got an agreement that the labour action would cease, and that's what happened. Everybody went back to uniform.
Subsequent to that, we signed what I'll call a labour peace agreement, a memorandum of understanding, with that association, basically saying that there will be no further pressure tactics on the part of the union and that they will adhere to the dress and deportment policy, and we agreed to go forward into mediation of specific grievances. We did that, and we absolutely did it in good faith. I categorically deny that we were there in bad faith.
Of course, I can't go into the specifics of the mediation. We came to the table and actively tried to find an agreement. We were not able to reach that agreement. Both parties were very far apart. The nature of mediation is that it does not always result in an agreement. It doesn't mean either party was there in bad faith, so I deny that.