National Indigenous History Month

The month of June is National Indigenous History Month — a time for all Canadians to celebrate and appreciate the unique histories, cultures, and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people.

We cannot move forward without recognizing the tragic and devastating treatment the indigenous people suffered.   The discovery of a mass grave where 215 children were buried is heartbreaking!  and devastating.  As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau so eloquently stated, “a painful reminder of that dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history.” 

Indian Residential Schools were boarding schools run by the government and the church.  Children were stolen from their families and they were stripped of their dignity.  They were punished for speaking their own languages; they  suffered physical and sexual abuse.  Can you imagine that the last residential schools closed in Saskatchewan in 1996!  The impact of residential schools is still very alive specially among the survivors and continue to have a significant impact on Indigenous communities.

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up to provide support for former Residential School students and those affected. Emotional and crisis referral services are available by calling the 24-hour national crisis line at 1-866-925-4419.

UVAE Stands with Muslim Canadians and Members on Islamophobic Murder of Ontario Family

The Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE) is devastated and horrified over the Islamophobic terrorist attack on June 6, 2021, that killed four members of a Muslim Pakistani family in London, Ontario and left the only survivor, a nine-year-old boy, in hospital with serious injuries.

The UVAE sends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues impacted by this tragedy and commits to fighting against all forms of racism, bigotry, and hate.

Our prayers and thoughts go to the only survivor whom we wish all the care, peace and the justice he deserves.

Toufic El-Daher

National Executive Vice-President (UVAE)

Pride and Privileged

“In hounour of Pride Month 2021, the UVAE reached out to Sean Williams, a Veterans Affairs Canada employee and Positive Space Ambassador, to write an article for our social media. Please see Sean’s article below. Happy Pride everyone J”

Pride and Privileged

By Sean Williams

When I was asked to write this article, the phone call began with the customary “how are you?”

In a pre-Covid world, I would normally answer this seemingly mundane question with an equally mundane response, however given the current state of the world this once routine greeting has taken on a whole new weight.

My response to the question was somewhere along the lines of “I am doing ok. I am still gainfully employed, safely working from home, and all my loved ones are safe”. One could say that I am “lucky” but I would argue that I am not lucky, rather as a white cis-man, I am privileged to be able to say the aforementioned response when asked “how are you?”

When the Pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, we were all scared. There were just so many unknowns and we didn’t know how it would affect us but quickly we began to see the divisions in society and how the already marginalized groups would bear the brunt of this disease. We have seen how Canadians already facing social and economic hardships have been affected disproportionately by the Covid crisis.

But this isn’t an article about Covid, this is an article about Pride Month, however I feel that we can’t observe Pride Month without acknowledging the social inequities that the pandemic has laid bare. Before the parades, the people in booty shorts and drag shows, Pride was a protest and now more than ever we need to remember that. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr famously said “no one is free until we are all free”. If you are a person of privilege in this society, use your power to support those who are oppressed. Speak up, hold space, do the work to create a just and equitable society for all people.

The word pride is the antonym of the word shame and according to Brené Brown, an author and psychology researcher, shame is an “intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” So many in our LGBTQ2S+ community have been made to feel ashamed, to feel that they are unworthy, that they are not enough. If you have privilege in any realm of your life, I ask that you use Pride month to break down the walls of shame and use your power to amplify the marginalized voices that for so long have been silenced by racism, transphobia, homophobia and misogyny.

Check out Egale Canada to find out more about how you can get involved and make a difference.

Love is Love LGBTQ2S+

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia is observed on May 17th and helps to coordinate International events that bring awareness to the rights of the LGBTQ2S+ community, bring focus to violations and to stimulate interest in LGBTQ2S+ rights around the world.

It is very important to commemorate this day and to reflect on its origins. The date was chosen to mark the day that the World Health Organization (WHO) made a decision to remove homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases back in 1990.

The day, as a concept, was conceived in 2004. After a year-long campaign culminated in the first International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, 2005. 24,000 individuals as well as organizations such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the World Congress of LGBTQ2S+ Jews and the Coalition of African Lesbians signed an appeal to support the “IDAHO initiative”. Activities for the day took place in many countries, including the first LGBTQ2S+ events ever to take place in the Congo, China, and Bulgaria. The date of May 17 was also specifically chosen to commemorate the WHO’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

In 2003, Ontario and British Columbia became the first two provinces to legalize same-sex marriage. The federal Civil Marriage Act came into force on 25 July 2005, making same-sex marriage legal across Canada. Canada became the fourth country to permit same-sex marriages, after the Netherlands (2000), Belgium (2003) and Spain (2005).

The broader labour movement has historically been at the forefront in the fight for LGBTQ2S+ rights. Over the past decades union member sought the inclusion of sexual orientation in employer anti-discrimination policies, lobbied for marriage equality, campaigned for transition support for transgender members, and fought to uphold the rights to gender identity and expression in our workplaces and our communities.

The main purpose of sharing stories and embracing events is to draw the attention of the public, the media, social movements, opinion leaders and policymakers against discrimination, violence and repression experienced by LGBTQ2S+ communities worldwide. It is supported by millions of people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We all need to take part and commit to taking action in our communities to end discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Celebrate May 17th, 2021 by wearing the rainbow, adding your voice to causes is a great way to do your part. By Supporting LGBTQ2S+ as well as recognizing the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia we will continue to build awareness and to bring new and different perspectives that the contributions of the LGBTQ2S+ community is valued as well as a vibrant component to society.

UVAE Human Rights Committee

Not Good Enough Workers at National Defence Speaking Out

Unionized employees at the Department of National Defence (DND) are not impressed with the government’s announcement of another review of personal and sexual harassment within the military and at the department. They are also coming forward with their own stories of personal and sexual harassment at the hands of the managers and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

June Winger, National President of the Union of National Defense Employees (UNDE) said that the government already knows what the problem is. “We don’t need another study. It’s time to act now. We expect the federal government to make significant changes at the Department of National Defence to shift this dangerous workplace culture immediately.”

Members from across the country have been coming forward with horrific tales of bullying and abuse including one member who’s been waiting over 700 days for a response to her complaint. Virginia Vaillancourt National President of the Union of Veterans’ Affairs Employees (UVAE) which also represents some civilian employees at the department said that this is not acceptable. “We have members waiting almost two years for DND to deal with their situation and now we hear they are going to take another 18 months to come up with a plan. Members are mad and who can blame them?”

The union representatives called on the federal government for immediate action for victims of harassment at the department. “Employees from every region are now contacting their union representatives with horrific tales of bullying and abuse,” said Winger. “They have been silenced by fear of escalated abuse and retaliation but seeing the bravery of the witnesses and victims who are sharing their experiences with Parliament about the abuse faced by members of the Canadian Armed Forces, they want to share their lived experiences as well.”

The actions they call for include expediting all current active investigations, fully enforcing harassment policies and ensure those committing abuses face consequences and including all employees in any review of the current systems in place and create the systemic changes need to fix DND culture.

They also want the newly announced Chief Professional Conduct and Culture to be given broad powers to investigate and make recommendations for discipline of all managers at DND, whether they wear a uniform or not. “Unless this position is independent of the chain of command it will only serve as window dressing that cannot hide the scars and the damage inflicted on employees and lower ranked military members,” said Vaillancourt. “It’s time to heal our wounds and build a better Department for today and tomorrow.”

For information and interviews please contact

Mike Martin

Communications

mike54martin@yahoo.ca

613-290-5836

Phoenix: Damages ruled taxable as Treasury Board refuses to cooperate

Phoenix: Damages ruled taxable as Treasury Board refuses to cooperate | Public Service Alliance of Canada

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.

Toufic El-Daher

National Executive Vice-President UVAE