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As Chairperson for the Canadian Forces Grievance Board, I hereby present the Report on Plans and Priorities for the Canadian Forces Grievance Board, for the period 2007-08 to 2009-10. The Board is an independent, quasi-judicial body, accountable to Parliament through the Minister of National Defence for administrative purposes.
Over the last year, the Board welcomed new Board Members and senior staff, and made solid progress in reducing its inventory of grievance files. I am also pleased to report that of the 2006 files received and completed by the Board this year, more than 80% were dealt with in less than six months.
The Board has set ambitious goals for itself over the next few years, building on the priority of operational performance, which remains the cornerstone of its raison d'être, and external communications. Furthermore, in last year's RPP, I mentioned that the Board would conduct an assessment on the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian Forces grievance system as a whole and look at ways to improve its efficiency and transparency. This year, we have made it our third priority: to contribute to improving the CF grievance system through increased efficiency.
In terms of increased efficiency, proposed changes to the process are the result of our cooperation with the Director General, Canadian Forces Grievance Authority (DGCFGA) and other NDHQ staff, following an intense examination of the grievance process at the Final Authority (Chief of the Defence Staff) level. The review yielded concrete results in the form of identification of weaknesses and mutually agreed approaches in addressing them.
In support of the proposed approaches, we have devised and implemented a joint Pilot Project, the aim of which is to eliminate a duplication of effort, and significantly reduce the time taken by the DGCFGA and the Board to analyze grievances and present recommendations to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS). We expect to conduct an assessment and report on the results of this Project by June 2007. If the Pilot Project validates our approach, we will present a formal proposal for changes to the process.
The overall grievance system would also be improved by a broadening of the Board's mandate. Current regulation stipulates that the Board only review approximately 40% of the files received at the CDS level. Should the pilot project be successful, we are hopeful that our mandate can be expanded to include the other 60% of grievances. It is our fervent belief that all CF members, regardless of the type of grievance being filed, should have access to an outside, independent Board which would conduct a review and make recommendations on their grievance.
As the Board considers this third priority, it must also evaluate the impact it will have on its corporate infrastructure; the planning of resources is fundamental.
In addition, we must ensure that the continuity and renewal of our specialized workforce are in keeping with changes flowing from the Public Service Modernization Act. We must also continue to improve our management practices using the Government's own blueprint for sound management, the Management Accountability Framework.
Six years after its inception, the Board has proven its value-added and raison d'être. Today, armed with an experience and maturity acquired through the years, we know how much more it can do for the Canadian Forces and its members.
I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2007-08 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Canadian Forces Grievance Board.
This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the preparation of Part III of the 2007-2008 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:
It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance;
It is based on the department's Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture that were approved by the Treasury Board;
It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat in the RPP.
Name: Diane Laurin
The Board's Raison d'être
To review grievances, in order to render fair and impartial findings and recommendations in a timely and informal manner to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and the grievor.
A Unique Role
The Board is a civilian administrative tribunal with quasi-judicial powers established under the terms of the National Defence Act. In its role as an administrative tribunal, it conducts objective, transparent and independent reviews of grievances, with due respect to fairness and equity for each member of the Canadian Forces (CF), regardless of rank or position. It ensures that the rights of military personnel are considered fairly throughout the process. Ultimately, it is part of the Board's long-term objective to contribute to the morale of CF members, and to instil confidence in the effectiveness and fairness of the improved grievance system.
To fully examine all information that could be relevant to a grievance and, if necessary, the Board can conduct hearings, summon civilian or military witnesses, and compel them to give oral or written evidence.
The Board reports its findings and recommendations to both the CDS, who is the final authority in the decision, and the grievor. Its recommendations may deal not only with the grievance itself, but with potential systemic changes that could alleviate a problem or issue Forces-wide.
Financial Resources (in ’000$)
Human Resources *
* Includes Board Members appointed by Governor in Council.
|Priority #1 Operational performance||Ongoing|
|Priority #2 External Communications||Ongoing|
|Priority #3 Contribution to improving the Canadian Forces Grievance System.||New|
tion to the following priority
|Priority #1 Operational performance|
The Board will strive to maintain the quality of its findings and recommendations and the efficiency of its operations.
The Board will continue to assess its recruitment approaches and strategies through the development of its Human Resources Plan with emphasis on succession planning. The Board will also maintain a strong focus on learning, for both new and existing staff.
These mean a continuing strong focus on the following aspects of the Board's business:
|Priority 2 External communications|
External communications continues to be a priority for the Board. It is a required activity that helps the Board to inform its key stakeholders about its role within the CF grievance process, its work and the progress it has made since its inception in 2000.
The Board will continue to focus on activities that have proven to be effective outreach mechanisms, such as tours of military bases, presentations to key stakeholder groups, brochure mail-outs, and articles featured in military newsletters, to name a few.
The Board's work is further promoted via its website, where case summaries are posted on a regular basis. This particular forum and other electronic tools will serve at the forefront of its external outreach strategy. For example, the Board has developed an electronic newsletter that was launched in January 2007. The idea behind this initiative will be to keep CF members abreast of the most recent and interesting grievance issues, what the Board's findings and recommendations are in these cases, and what the final CDS decision was. The newsletter will also be a useful in bringing subscribers to the Board's website, where they can read up on more case summaries and other related information about the organization and its mandate.
|Priority 3 Improving the Canadian Forces Grievance System|
The CF has established an elaborate set of mechanisms, both formal and informal, to deal with complaints from members.1 The most formal of these, as defined in the National Defence Act, is the grievance system. Formal grievances are dealt with in a two-level process. All grievances that are not resolved to the satisfaction of the grievor by the appropriate Initial Authority can be submitted directly to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) as the Final Authority (FA) in the process.
In keeping with the CDS' direction to eliminate duplication in the CF grievance process, the Director General, Canadian Forces Grievance Authority and the Board undertook a joint review of their processes at the FA level so that the current system could be made more efficient.
Currently, the DGCFGA plays a role in the findings and recommendations (F&R) forwarded from the Board to the CDS. The DGCFGA staff reviews the Board's F&R and conducts their own file review before preparing a decision letter for the CDS. The upshot of this is that a grievance file is analyzed twice - once by the Board and once by the DGCFGA.
The Board and DGCFGA have agreed to attempt to eliminate or reduce this duplication of effort and a pilot project has been put in place which eliminates most of the analytical effort at the DGCFGA. The expectation is that the overall time for the resolution of a grievance may be reduced significantly in order to have one in-depth analysis of grievance files done by the Board.
The overall grievance system would also be improved by a broadening of the Board's mandate. Currently the Board sees only 40% of the grievances at the Final Authority level. Ergo, 60% of grievors do not have the opportunity to have their complaint reviewed by an independent Board. Not only would confidence in the overall system be increased if the Board's mandate were expanded but there would be a consistent approach to all grievances.
1 In addition to the formal grievance system, the CF and the Department of National Defence (DND) have established a Conflict Management Program (CMP) that provides mediation, facilitation and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services to CF members and DND civilian personnel across the country. The Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces is also mandated to investigate complaints about any matter pertaining to administration of the CF or DND.
The external factors are as follows:
At the operational level
The appointments of Board Members, whether they be full or part-time by the Governor in Council.
The unknown number of grievances that could be filed by members of the military in any given year.
Delays at any point in the CF grievance process.
The existence of the different players at Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces (DND/CF) overseeing the same or similar grievance matters on behalf of the military, such as the Director General, Canadian Forces Grievance Authority (DGCFGA), the Conflict Management Program (CMP) and the Office of the Ombudsman. As a result, grievors may not know where to go for the proper redress. Alternatively, other organizations can also present alternative forums for the grievor and may result in less grievances coming to the Board.
Amendments to the National Defence Act.
A judicial review by the Federal Court on a grievance or grievances that had been reviewed by the Board.
At the corporate level
Any new central agency initiatives. As in the case of many small organizations, while delivering against its mandate the Board must also comply with various central agency initiatives and reporting requirements; these take up valuable time and consume scarce resources.
The internal factors are:
Workforce profile, including skills and competencies
Departures (including retirements)
Organization structure in view of possible expanded mandate
Employment Equity - designated group representation
Clients / Stakeholders / Partners
The CDS, who makes a final decision on a grievance on the basis of the findings and recommendations submitted by the Board;
The grievor, who is the ultimate beneficiary of the decision rendered by the CDS;
The Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) who has the functional responsibility of the grievance system;
Members of the CF;
Parliament (to whom the CFGB reports on an annual basis);
Other organizations involved in similar matters, such as the Director General, Canadian Forces Grievance Administration, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Judge Advocate General and the office dealing with conflict management in DND;
Former military members; veterans associations and families of both former and current members of the military;
Department of Justice;
Other quasi-judicial organizations;
Central agencies in government; and
Specialized media and military opinion leaders.
Alignment of program activity and strategic outcomes to Government of Canada outcomes: Federal Organizations that support all Government of Canada outcomes.
|Strategic Outcome||Program Activity||Link to Government of Canada Outcome area|
|The recommendations of the Canadian Forces Grievance Board are implemented in the Canadian Forces and lead to improvements in the conditions of work.||
Review of Canadian Forces grievances referred by the Chief of the Defence Staff
Internal Services (Corporate and Administrative Services)