Tag Archives: training

COVID-19: The employer must reconsider its position on close contact training

Image of border crossing with the words "COVID-19"

The following message was sent to the employer on June 2nd by Mark Weber, CIU’s 1st National Vice-President, and Co-Chair of the Policy Health and Safety Committee.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen our Policy Health and Safety Committee commit a great deal of time and effort to ensuring that all CBSA employees are kept as safe as possible. We’ve accomplished much that’s positive, in circumstances where the planning and implementation of every preventative measure was an urgent matter. Most Departments within the CBSA have participated proactively in this work with us, making all we’ve had to address run much more smoothly.

Our experience working with Training and Development has been uniquely negative. We’ve repeatedly learned of scheduled training from our members, without it having first been brought to our Committee as mandated by the Canada Labour Code (CLC) and Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (COHSR). We’ve been given documents to assess on the eve of training, only after insisting that they be provided. We’ve seen all they’ve developed ‘assessed’ at meetings of a health and safety ‘working group’, who we’ve learned keep no minutes, and whose composition we are entirely unaware of. We’ve been told repeatedly that everything in place was approved by a qualified person, only to learn that this is not the case. Procedures that include a 14 day quarantine period continue to be used to declare safe close contact training for employees who are not quarantining.

We recently asked to participate in a meeting with Health Canada, only to learn that the employer had the meeting without us. We were told that Health Canada will “never state that training is safe or unsafe”. Health Canada was only asked about the preventative measures in place, not the training itself. The truth is that no qualified person will say that it is now safe to ignore physical distancing, because it is not. Health Canada’s recommendation that training be reevaluated based on local pandemic conditions was ignored and again, the documents provided to Health Canada had the trainees quarantining, which is not what is happening for anyone other that our OITPs.

The odd justifications the employer side of our Committee continues to espouse for Training and Development are inexplicable given the business like, efficient manner in which all else connected to COVID has been dealt with. The culmination of this behaviour is the recent conclusion that it is not the role of the Policy Health and Safety Committee to determine when training is safe to resume, “it is ultimately management that determines the safety of training”.

The employee members of the Policy Health and Safety Committee do not believe that it is safe to resume close contact training, and we urge the employer members of our Committee to revisit their decision to recommend it. Should the decision be to forge ahead with close contact training, we ask that daily COVID testing be arranged for trainees and trainers.

No proper risk assessment has been conducted, no qualified person has assessed any of the risks associated with this training, and the first step of Part 122.2 of the CLC has been wrongly passed over. We remind the employer of their obligations under the CLC and COHSR, including Part 148 of the CLC.

Anti-racism training for Customs and Immigration Union members: Letter to Minister Blair

Photo of CIU flag

CIU National President Jean-Pierre Fortin sent the following letter to the Hon. Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on June 5, 2020.


Dear Minister,

This past week, people from around the world witnessed the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. These events lay bare the systems and culture that result in unequal treatment and racism in the law enforcement and other institutions. Canada’s Prime Minister and many federal representatives have rightly pointed out that although this event took place in the United States, our country is not immune to racism, unconscious bias and systemic discrimination. Police Chiefs and associations have issued open letters calling for reform. The cries of Canadians are loud and clear, they will not tolerate injustice and the Customs and Immigration Union (CIU) adds its voice to theirs.

As you know, the CIU represents some 11,000 members, many of whom are Border Services Officers. While they enforce the law, their role is unique in that they are the first to come into contact with travellers to Canada from around the world.

Many of the CIU’s members are racialized and we know that they are hurting. We also know that racism is everywhere, within various groups and in all workplaces. Its impact is far reaching. Our union wants to take concrete steps in an effort to support our members and all those who are also suffering due to racism, discrimination and unconscious bias perpetrated in workplaces and beyond.

The Prime Minister has pointed out that far too often, our current systems condone and normalize inequality and injustice. He also stated that the Government of Canada is ready to work with Canadians to eradicate racism and has called on allies to help build a fair, better and more equitable country for all.

The CIU National Executive discussed ways in which our union might become such an ally and call on you to work with us to create genuine change. If Canadians are being called on to combat unconscious bias, we asked ourselves how we might participate in that fight. We believe that to achieve societal reform, we will need to replace current “reactive” methods and processes with “proactive” ones. No doubt the Federal government and perhaps you, as Minister of Public Safety, are contemplating various avenues to address this matter. Unions and employers must be active partners in the dismantling of systemic discrimination and the development of a more progressive model of law enforcement.

It is our understanding that many law enforcement organizations provide anti-racism training. The CIU wants to ensure its members have the tools necessary to combat discrimination of all kinds. In-person, comprehensive training will go a long way to preventing the suffering of our members and those they meet and serve, be it in an office, at the border, in an airport or elsewhere. Current and short “presentations” to new recruits do not go far enough and neither will online training ensure that we are equipping our members to address systemic racism and unconscious bias.

The Canadian government has taken a proactive approach to combatting racism, funding a variety of initiatives. In keeping with that approach, we strongly believe that in the long term, funding enhanced training initiatives will be to everyone’s benefit. It is clear that current “reactive” policies and procedures, such as the ones the world has been witnessing lately, are costly and ineffective. Investment in training for CIU members is an important first step to help them to become stronger allies and leaders in the fight against racism and discrimination of all kinds.

Yours truly,

Jean-Pierre Fortin
National President
Customs and Immigration Union

Click here for the PDF version.

Phoenix: New Training Must Be Accessible to All Employees

Fix Phoenix Pay System Logo

After almost two years after launching the disastrous Phoenix pay system, the government has finally rolled out basic training for all employees.

“This is the kind of training that should be provided before rolling out a new pay system, not two years after the fact,” said PSAC National President Robyn Benson. “Now that it is finally available, the employer must act to ensure all employees are given the time and resources to do the training.”

PSAC reminds our members that they are entitled to take the training during their work hours.

“While this comes two years too late, we nevertheless encourage all of our members to take the training,” said Benson. “But, the employer must ensure all employees timely access to the training and that they are given sufficient time to complete the training at work.”

Important information for everyone paid by Phoenix

Whatever your position, occupational group or employment status (for example, indeterminate, term or student), if you are paid through Phoenix, this training is for you.

These courses are intended to explain how human resources information that affects your pay (such as your work schedule, leave and overtime) is fed into Phoenix, and how to ensure you enter the correct information into the system.

Courses will be tailored for employees, managers, human resources staff, and compensation advisors.

The initial courses will be web-based and are available through GCpedia, on the government’s intranet. Additional courses will be delivered in person.

More information

All employees should be receiving a message with information about the training, including links to the online courses. Treasury Board has prepared a Frequently Asked Questions document with additional information.

If you have trouble gaining access to this training, or if you are not being given sufficient time during work hours to complete the training, please contact your local PSAC representative.

This article was first published on the PSAC website.