Update Regarding Workplace Accommodation

January 7, 2016

In September 2015, CIU provided an update to its members with respect to the arming initiative and the CBSA position that, as of April 2016, no officer will perform face to face enforcement duties without the appropriate defensive equipment.

Since then – and most recently on December 8 – the CIU National Executive members, Jean Pierre Fortin, Mark Weber, André Beaulieu, Brea Lewis and Chantal Rajotte along with the Equal opportunities Representative, Murray Star, PSAC Legal Officer, Lisa Addario and Labour Relations Officer, Laurel Randle met a number of times with the employer to discuss placement strategies for our members who cannot be armed due to an accommodation.

Regional meetings involving CIU Branch Presidents and National Vice-Presidents along with either Sister Randle or Addario or Brother Fortin, CBSA Directors and Regional Directors General were held in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver in preparation of the employer’s meeting with members to discuss specific placement offers/options.

The National and Regional meetings were held to respond to management’s plans for the placement of members who are/were performing face to face enforcement duties without the defensive equipment that the employer has determined is required to perform those duties. The employer had identified 108 employees from across the country who fit into this group.

Although placement discussions were to have been held with each of these members prior to the December 8 meeting, our understanding is that some discussions have been delayed due to shifting priorities at the CBSA (dealing with the Syrian Refugees).

Our members who have limitations or restrictions based on a human rights ground are entitled to a reasonable accommodation. Although many wish to remain in their current face to face roles, the employer’s position is that it cannot allow this beyond March 31, 2016.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission provides that the employer has a duty to accommodate. Jurisprudence has established that while an accommodation must be suitable, it does not have to be perfect.

The employer has identified the following duties as being suitable for accommodated members at level:

  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
  • Alternate Inspection Services (AIS) Risking
  • NEXUS Enrolment Centres
  • Inland Enforcement Officer (no road duty)
  • Commercial (back office)
  • Telephone Reporting Centres
  • Hearing Advisors
  • Postal Operations
  • National Targeting Centre

CIU has enquired about Instructor duties at the training centres and desk duties for Intelligence Officers and Investigators. The CBSA is looking at these profiles.

Your union does not agree with the employer’s broad position that it cannot accommodate members in certain face to face enforcement duties. However, in cases where CBSA offers a member who requires accommodation a position that is at the same group and level, within the same worksite and consistent with the member’s functional limitations, the employer may have met its legal duty to accommodate. Every case requiring accommodation must be individually considered. Members should immediately contact their Branch President if they believe the position(s) offered to them are unsuitable/unreasonable.

CBSA informed us that approximately 600 employees are currently being accommodated and are not involved in face to face enforcement. These accommodations are not being changed.

The employer has agreed to consider requests from members who do not want to attend firearm training and who will retire in the short term (less than a year). The CBSA has made it clear, however, that these members will not remain in face to face enforcement positions beyond March 2016. Note that CBSA has informed us that such requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis.

Situations where members have taken a demotion because of the firearms implementation are being reviewed by the CBSA. It will get back to CIU with numbers and details.

The CBSA has also agreed to review situations where members have reconsidered their request to retire if that initial retirement request was made because of the impending firearm implementation.

We encourage our members to talk to their Branch President and, because the National Vice Presidents and Equal Opportunity Representative also sit on the National Strategy committee, issues can be raised with them as well.

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