Author Archives: Pierre St-Jacques

Employment Opportunity — Labour Relations Officer — Term position

Photo of CIU flag

The Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) is seeking to hire a full time Labour Relations Officer (Band 11) with extensive experience to be staffed on a full-time determinate basis (four months with possibility of extension).

Applications will be received until close of business on May 19, 2021 (5:00 p.m. EDT). Please see the full posting here (PDF) for more information about the position, the associated duties and requirements, and on how to apply.

Minister Blair signs off on joint CIU and CBSA anti-racism initiative

Photo of CIU flag

Joint statement on anti-racism: We can do better together

We — the Minister of Public Safety, President and Executive Vice-President of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the National President of the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) — are standing together to reiterate our commitment to eliminating systemic racism.

We recognize that all workplaces should be respectful, free of harassment and discrimination. The events of 2020 have reinforced our commitment and sharpened our focus on the reality of systemic racism. We need to do more to address and strive to eliminate racism in the CBSA workplace and workforce.

Acknowledging the problem is only the first step. We are now turning our attention to working together to deliver positive and lasting changes.

Today we are coming together to take action. The CBSA senior management has recently established an Agency‑wide Task Force on anti‑racism. The Task Force is developing an anti‑racism strategy that takes a whole‑of‑Agency approach to tackle systemic racism within the CBSA by listening, learning and taking action.

Additionally, an initiative proposed by the CIU is making headway. Last spring, the Minister of Public Safety, the President of the CBSA and the CIU agreed that anti‑racism training should be developed for all CBSA employees. The CIU National Executive identified a group of dedicated members who will work with the CBSA HR team and Anti-Racism Task Force to develop that training as well as de‑escalation training for frontline officers. These efforts are aimed at fostering positive and respectful interaction amongst CBSA employees and with the diverse clientele they serve at facilities and ports of entry across the country.

Canada has a long history of colonialism that continues to have a big impact on Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. But today we step forward together to demonstrate our commitment to real change.

CBSA employees stand guard at the longest land border in the world. Our efforts to eliminate systemic barriers will benefit Agency employees and better support the public and travellers we serve every day.

As we move forward, we encourage all of you to become familiar with the initiatives and resources that will be introduced in the coming months, and to join us in standing in solidarity with all peoples, particularly those who have experienced racism and discrimination.

Bill Blair
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

John Ossowski
President, CBSA

Paul MacKinnon
Executive Vice-President, CBSA

Jean-Pierre Fortin
National President, CIU


CIU also wishes to thank the members of the union’s working groups on anti-racism and de-escalation training for their continued work and efforts.

CIU anti-racism working group

Co-Chairs:  Joey Dunphy and Murray Star

Members:

  • Jenny Mathelier
  • Neha Sarao
  • Lisa Morgan
  • Tacia Kilty
  • Sukhpreet Singh Heir

CIU de-escalation training working group

Chair:  Rick Savage

Members:

  • Ben Hurdle
  • Paul Finn
  • Rildo Gutierrez
  • Mike Fraser

Asian Heritage Month: United in the fight to stop Asian hate

Stop Asian Hate sign

Asian Heritage Month is traditionally an opportunity for Canadians to recognize the incredible contributions and achievements of people of Asian descent who have helped shape Canada. Their contributions and challenges are often overlooked in the media, schools, and other mainstream institutions, even though they make up the largest racialized community in Canada.

This year’s celebration has been overshadowed by repeated – and often violent – anti-Asian racist incidents across Canada and the rest of the world during the pandemic.  Many racist attacks have been fuelled by longstanding racist stereotypes about people of Asian descent.

The horrific mass shooting in Atlanta this March is just the latest in a string of disturbing racially motivated violence in Canada and in the U.S.

In Canada specifically, there has been a sharp rise in anti-Asian hate over the past year, leaving many people afraid of doing everyday activities such as going to get groceries or even walking through the park. A new report by the Chinese Canadian National Council highlights 1,150 cases of racist attacks in Canada from March 10 to December 31, 2020. Even children and the elderly have been physically assaulted.

In Vancouver, incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by over 700 per cent in 2020, while in Ottawa and Montreal, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 600 and 400 per cent, respectively. Asian women—uniquely hypersexualized and marginalized—also continue to bear the brunt of this racism and misogyny, making them more vulnerable to violence.

The recent surge in Anti-Asian hate in Canada has given rise to demands from powerful voices from people of Asian descent for the federal government to take concrete and immediate action. PSAC joins them in calling on the government to:

  • Strengthen the federal government’s anti-racism strategy to include and specifically address incidents of anti-Asian racism;
  • Increase funding for the Anti-Racism Secretariat to make it permanent, independent and with a focus on anti-Asian racism;
  • Develop a stronger mandate to collect race-based data that is intersectional and examines subgroups within the very diverse Asian communities;
  • Eliminate employment barriers for people of Asian descent to get jobs or be promoted in the federal public service, including recognition of international qualifications.

We all have a role to play in the fight against anti-Asian racism and all other forms of racism in Canada. We must take action and challenge racism when we witness it in our communities, our workplaces, our union and at home. If you need support addressing racism in your workplace, reach out to your union representative.

Celebrate the voices of people of Asian Heritage

People of Asian descent are at the forefront of addressing anti-Asian racism, including collecting and documenting the incidents of Anti-Asian racism in Canada and providing support for those who experience it.

You can play a small but vital part in the path towards dismantling systemic racism by listening to the challenges faced by people of Asian descent in Canada during our upcoming webinar and learning more about their contributions through our digital history series that will be released throughout May.

This article has also been posted on the PSAC website.

Phoenix: Damages ruled taxable as Treasury Board refuses to cooperate

CRA sign

After months of waiting, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has rejected our request to review the taxability of Phoenix damages. This is directly due to Treasury Board’s refusal to provide CRA with a joint statement of facts which corrects CRA’s understanding of the purpose of our damages settlement agreement.

In an April 27 letter from the CRA, the Agency states:

As discussed in our meeting on February 3, 2021, we consented to reconsider our position only if the Employer and PSAC provided us with an agreed-upon statement of facts. As this did not happen, we have not considered any of the assertions in your draft statement of facts.

After numerous requests for Treasury Board’s cooperation, and direct appeals to Minister Duclos, they have refused any and all cooperation on the matter.

“It’s clear they’re still angry that PSAC forced them to deliver a better deal for our members,” said PSAC President Chris Aylward.

“They’re frustrated that they have to honour the top-up clauses signed with the other unions to match our general damages agreement, and now they’re taking it out on PSAC members by sabotaging attempts to get a positive tax ruling.”

Tell Minister Duclos to stop blocking CRA from reviewing their decision!

Our union carefully worded the agreement to reflect a wide range of impacts suffered by PSAC members, including for “stress, aggravation, and pain and suffering” and for the late implementation of collective agreements. There is a strong precedent of damages for those purposes being deemed non-taxable by CRA. The tax treatment of the general damages should reflect the purpose of that compensation as outlined in the agreement.

It is unacceptable that Treasury Board refuses to affirm these facts. Instead they informed CRA that the agreement’s purpose is to resolve a policy grievance between the employer and the union – something that may be true for other unions, but not for PSAC’s damages agreement.

We will not let this stand without a fight.

While we continue to explore every legal avenue to appeal CRA’s decision, please take a moment to join our efforts by sharing your outrage directly with Minister Duclos and the Prime Minister.

Our goal is to ensure all PSAC members receive the full compensation they deserve and that we avoid any time consuming and complex tax disputes for individual members. We are also pushing Treasury Board to expedite the availability of the claims process for all former members and retirees who are still waiting to receive their Phoenix general damages.

We will provide additional updates to members about this ongoing work as we move forward.

For more information about Phoenix damages, please check out our FAQ.

This article has also been posted on the PSAC website.