UPDATED August 17, 2022
Passport program workers at Service Canada have been stressed and stretched to their max. As the Union representing these workers, UNE has created this corner for questions and answers as hard-working employees navigate these difficult times.
Are you an employee working for Passport?
Send your questions or helpful suggestions to PPT@une-sen.org.
August 17, 2022
UNE met again with the Employer on August 8 and 11, 2022, as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer, Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President, Local 20088, attended the meeting.
The Employer listened to mental health concerns to which UNE provided multiple examples. Particularly, UNE raised concerns not only with the current situation where our members are exhausted, that they have been living through a very difficult situation, there is shortage of staff, they are pulled in all directions and morale is at an all time low. UNE is concerned about mental health in the workplace, but also how mental health will be supported in the long term.
UNE raised concerns that often, the employer will suggest that members seek help from their Employee Assistant Program (EAP). However, at this time, resources are very limited, and it may take time to have help. As such, the UNE shared that we would like to collaborate to see what other tools can be developed and provided examples.
The Employer also asked what we thought would be a good start. UNE noted that managers at all levels need training, more particularly how to recognize burnout, basic understanding of mental health and Duty to Accommodate. There will be more meetings scheduled to continue the discussions.
Update on Training
The Employer provided an update on the training of CSOs that are entitling passports. It also provided a one-pager on simple versus complex files that was created by IRCC.
UNE reiterated its position on CSO entitling passports and asked for a copy of the memorandum of understanding with IRCC. UNE also raised concerns on the training, the security and integrity of the passport. UNE also noted that IRCC should also be part of these discussions. Finally, the UNE asked if the CSO entitling passports was coming from the revolving fund. The employer noted that since it is a passport entitlement function, it is coming from the revolving fund.
August 10, 2022
UNE met again with the Employer on August 4, 2022, as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer, Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President, Local 20088, attended the meeting.
Key Performance Indicators
Discussions were held on the subject of Key Performance Indicators, notably requesting managers to communicate to members that they shouldn’t be stressed out regarding these indicators at this time of increased pressure. UNE raised concerns that work objectives should be realistic and concerns about performance appraisal should be put on the backburner. The Employer noted that it would be having further discussions on this topic.
Introduction of the Ten-Day Pick-up Service in Additional Offices
The Employer gave a brief overview of the project in Service Canada Centres and noted that it will be rolled out at four sites to start but the intent would be to eventually offer the service in thirteen offices. UNE asked if this is a temporary or permanent measure, to which the Employer responded it will be a permanent measure. Sites will be announced shortly. UNE is concerned about the roll out of this program and reserved additional comments pending further discussion.
There have been a number of recurring topics over several weeks.
Overtime National Strategy: UNE provided comments on the National Strategy on Overtime. It will be posted shortly. However, our understanding is that it has already been communicated in the workplace.
Mental Health and Stress: A meeting is scheduled to discuss Mental Health in the workplace and to collaborate on a strategy.
Annual Leave: UNE raised concerns that members are being coerced and pressured by management to delay leave. The Employer confirmed that leave requested in April was approved and that other leave is approved based on existing operational requirements. As such, should any member feel pressured to move leave, they should discuss with their Local or through the Passport Corner generic email with examples.
August 3, 2022
UNE met again with the Employer on July 28, 2022, as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer, Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President, Local 20088, attended the meeting.
The Employer asked Unions for ideas to help increase productivity. UNE noted that any increase in productivity should not be to the detriment of the security and integrity of the passport document. The UNE provided a list of solutions that could help however it raised concerns with MP referrals and had a lengthy discussion on this situation. UNE asked for a commitment from the employer to review the MP referrals to ensure proper protocols be communicated so there is no preferential treatment in accordance with existing guidelines. UNE further asked if the review from the “audit team” and the “task force” had made any recommendations on productivity specifically and would be interested in hearing what they were.
UNE asked for ongoing updates on many subjects it has raised over the past few months; specifically, updates on official languages, overtime and mental health.
Upon review of the directive, the Employer confirmed that the intent was not to service clients based on language, but more to ensure unilingual employees had a workload. UNE noted that although this was the intent, the reality is that this directive was interpreted differently and still is to this day. As such, UNE recommended that this directive be archived since there is sufficient work in both official languages. Finally, UNE stated that files should not be treated in accordance with their language, but rather chronologically, from oldest to newest.
Our members are working significant hours of overtime to support the Passport program. As previously committed to the UNE, the Employer introduced a draft of the proposed National Framework on Overtime based on discussions and concrete examples of how overtime was applied across the Department. This will ensure the Collective Agreement is respected, that hours of overtime are distributed on an equitable basis and finally, to support our members who are available for overtime to work either in the office or remotely, based on the work available. Once the framework is approved and translated in both official languages, it will be shared with our members.
Workplace Mental Health
UNE asked how the Employer can improve mental health in the workplace. The Employer concurred that this subject is a priority and as such will be organizing a series of meetings to look at what is available and what else can be done. UNE noted that it looks forward to collaborate with the Employer.
July 25, 2022
UNE met again with the Employer on July 21, 2022, as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer, Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President, Local 20088, attended the meeting.
The Employer provided an update on previously discussed subjects. With respect to the language disadvantage, it advised that since it was a regional directive, the review and discussions would be held at a regional level. UNE responded that since this issue was brought up previously at the regional level and that again in this forum, that the Union would like to hear what the employer has to say about the outcome of discussion. Furthermore, UNE had submitted a list of questions in writing and was awaiting the response/data:
- How many passport officers are bilingual and how many are unilingual French
- What was the breakdown by language for files in 2020, 2021, 2022
- How long were French files in the queue as opposed to English files in 2020, 2021, 2022.
The Employer further noted that it is continuing work on the national strategy for overtime while ensuring it supports the needs of every workplace. UNE would like to know the data on the distribution of overtime such as how much overtime was worked per office/region. This will provide a true picture of how the overtime was distributed.
UNE raised concerns of the weekend duty which has allegedly been extended to all offices and would like to understand why and how this strategy is happening. UNE further noted that it has been asked to go in person on weekends to provide status updates. It seems to be a national initiative for which UNE was again not consulted. Our hard-working members deserve to spend a little bit of what’s left of the summer with their families. As a response, the Employer said they would seek information from the regions and provide a response to the Union.
July 18, 2022
UNE met again with the Employer on July 14, 2022 as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer, Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President, Local 20088, attended the meeting.
The Employer, in its commitment to provide more transparent communication to staff, shared its strategy to better acknowledge the hard work of its employees, including a message from the Deputy Minister and from Minister Gould.
French Passport Applications
UNE raised again with the Employer its concerns about French files being disadvantaged, compared to the ones submitted in English. UNE asked if, following the submission by the Union of evidence that would suggest that French clients were overlooked, the Employer was investigating the situation. The Employer noted that it will be looking into it and follow up with the Union.
UNE raised concerns on the equitable distribution of overtime. For instance, in some offices, the POs have carte blanche with the amount of overtime they can work while in some offices, they can only perform overtime in the office and only during core hours. UNE commented that some offices only allow overtime on Sunday if the Saturday was worked, which is inconsistent with the interpretation of the Collective Agreement. As such, UNE asked for a national strategy to be shared regionally. The Employer concurred and will work on it.
The Employer shared its staffing strategy with measurables actions to both increase staffing numbers and streamline the training.
The Employer has a multi-pronged approach to identify the workforce capacity by:
- External Recruiting
- Realignment of the existing ESDC workforce from outside the Passport Program to Passport work
- Redeployment of resources from other federal departments
The Employer shared its Q2 onboarding forecast which includes the hiring of 500 Passport Officers. UNE asked for the complete list of locations of the new hires. The Employer provided a partial regional breakdown since not all regional representatives were in attendance. UNE will provide the information once it is made available.
July 13, 2022
UNE met again with the employer on July 7, 2022, as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer (NLRO), Nathalie Fitzback, Local 10520 President, as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local 20088 Vice-President, attended the meeting.
To continue its plan to find solutions to the Passport crisis situation, the employer shared its plan to provide training to CSOs so they are able to entitle simple renewal applications. The training would consist of 5 days and the department provided a high-level overview.
UNE shared serious concerns with the integrity and security of the passport and provided concrete examples of why this decision is detrimental to the passport program and ultimately, the reputation of the travel document. UNE also noted that this tactic by the employer to further deskill and devaluate the work of qualified Passport Officers. UNE asked how the specific, complex and intense training, and the qualification period that take 4 months, can be watered down to 5 days without thinking of the long-term consequences of this decision.
UNE further asked if IRCC was consulted, a MOU signed, and which policies were updated to reflect this change. The employer responded that IRCC was engaged but that no MOU or policies had to be updated/modified. UNE asked that the employer take a step back and rethink this strategy and again highlighted its concerns for the security and integrity of the passport. The employer confirmed its position that it was going ahead with the training.
UNE asked for further discussions on distribution of overtime across the country as some offices only offer overtime during core hours while some offices offer unlimited overtime. UNE would like to know what the national strategy is.
UNE also would like to have further discussions and clarifications, with respect to client applications, and have confirmation of clients being discriminated against based on the language of the passport application.
July 7, 2022
UNE met again with the employer on June 30, 2022, as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer (NLRO), Nathalie Fitzback, Local 10520 President, as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local 20088 Vice-President, attended the meeting.
The employer provided an update on measures taken with clients such as toilets and bottled water.
UNE noted that the employer has taken measures to ensure the health and safety of the clients but asked, while working extended hours, what it is doing so our members get home safely. UNE asked what specific measures were in place if members were not comfortable with taking public transit after hours or if public transit was not available to them. The Union noted that this concern has been raised in Montreal and that work is underway. However, we wanted to know what was being done from a national perspective. The employer responded that they are currently having discussions and will have more details soon.
The employer noted that additional printers will be made available in Montreal and Vancouver. UNE asked for more fulsome discussion on maintenance of the printers.
The employer shared that a new training strategy is being finalized to increase capacity, which would include Citizen Services Officer (CSO) training to be able to process renewals and entitle simple files. UNE raised serious concerns with the entitlement aspect, more particularly with respect to security. The employer agreed to have a subsequent meeting to discuss/consult with us.
UNE raised concerns that to date, we have not seen the detailed staffing plan and that we have been raising this issue on a weekly basis. UNE wishes to see what the hiring plan for Qualified Passport Officers is. Again, the employer noted that it is working on the plan.
June 27, 2022
UNE met again with the employer on June 23, 2022 as part of their commitment to meet weekly to have a more fulsome discussion. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer and Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President 20088, attended the meeting.
Since UNE requested through different forums, that information sharing be transparent from the department and had asked a list of documentation, the employer responded that it finally got the documentation requested ready and will forward to Unions. They also noted they will continue to forward reports on a weekly basis.
The employer advised that they are undertaking an internal review, through the Audit team, of the passport situation. The desired outcome is for the review to present recommendations for management to consider. Furthermore, they are looking for input from Unions and employees in different positions throughout the organization.
UNE responded that it welcomed the discussions and is looking forward to providing input and hearing the findings of this review.
UNE raised concerns on the health and safety of our members. Passport Officers are currently working long hours and can work 65 hours and more per week. They are not being forced to work all these hours, but they hear the frustrations and cries of clients on a daily basis, and they want to help. They are exhausted, they are discouraged, but they continue to commit to get the job done.
UNE further noted that although it appreciates the efforts taken by management, these actions taken are just band aid solutions on the real problem that caused this crisis and until there is a realization of what the real problems are, the problems will just get deeper.
UNE stated that it hopes that the Employer is seriously listening to what we are saying when we say our members are exhausted. The elastic has been stretched to the max and is about to break.
Finally, UNE reiterated that it has asked for transparent and meaningful consultations with the employer. Although UNE understands decisions are made quickly for the benefit of the citizen, it is often time at the detriment of the member. As an example, if the employer would have taken a step back to consult on the disastrous ticket system that was proposed, we could have worked together to find a better solution.
June 24, 2022
The ESDC National Union Management Consultation Committee was held on June 21, 2022 with Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer and Luc Paquette, National Labour Relations Officer attending.
The Passport situation was an item submitted on the agenda. The employer provided an update of the situation and its plan in support of the Passport Program: Health and Safety, Program Streamlining, Deployment of Resources and Communications.
With respect to Communications, UNE shared its frustrations regarding the lack of transparency from the Department when communicating with clients and with our members. UNE further noted that clients deserve to know the truth about the issuance of passports and that the Minister should change her message to the citizen and tell them not to make any travel reservations without having their passport in hands. Furthermore, our members should not get information or learn about changes in the workplace through the media and provided the example of the article that was published in “La Presse” stating that Passport offices would be open June 24 and July 1, 2022.
UNE further noted, that through various consultation forums, informal or formal, that we have requested documentation and reports, without, to this day, any answers. UNE once again asked the employer for a list of “hot spots offices”, a list of Passport Offices that have extended their hours – without consultation or any prior notification with the Union – a detailed staffing plan as well as a list of locations of the new hires, the actual number and actual position that were staffed, for clarity, the number of Citizen Services Officers and the number of Passport Officers.
Finally, UNE raised concerns with the raise in escalation requests from Members of Parliament. In fact, the UNE failed to see a written policy on this subject. On the contrary, these escalations are being issued on a preferential basis, for files that are less urgent than others, at the detriment of Canadian citizens who have followed the proper process. This is a breach of the code of values and ethics. UNE further referenced the policy of preferential treatment and urged the employer to review these MP escalations that are not for humanitarian reasons.
June 22, 2022
UNE met again with the employer on June 20, 2022 as part of their commitment to meet weekly to have a more fulsome discussion. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer and Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President 20088, attended the meeting.
Employer representatives noted they wanted to have more “deep dive” discussions, particularly with respect to a metropolitan strategy for passport, program streamlining, deployment of additional support, staffing and extended hours.
The Employer noted that actions were taken over the weekend that were put in effect immediately to increase Commissionaire and security with a police presence in the Montreal area in specific response to some of those acute issues. The employer says it reached out to any employee who would like to help out on a temporary basis and that more help is on the way. They further noted that they have asked for additional Passport Officers to help with triage, manage line-ups and answer client questions while they are waiting.
The UNE responded that the Union sent a letter to the employer asking them to cease asking our members to step outside and have direct interactions with the public as this a serious safety issue. The UNE further noted that it would support any member that exercise their right to refuse dangerous work
The Employer noted that they have started consultations with IRCC to streamline different processes and they would keep the Union informed.
The UNE raised concerns with how this could affect the security and integrity of the passport.
Deployment of additional resources/Staffing
The Employer informed the Union that it has ask for temporary deployment of resources and that a plan will be shared.
UNE raised serious concerns with respect to staffing and retention of Passport Officers. More particularly, the job content and classification issues that continue to exist. UNE pressed the employer to seriously consider the distinct function of the duties of a Passport Officer. As a response, the Employer committed to initiate a review and update of the work description.
UNE welcomes these discussions and is looking forward to consultation on the subject. UNE further noted that this project would need to be done in a timely manner to be concluded before PA conversion (Occupational Group Structure) in 2024.
The Employer committed to provide a list of sites where it has extended hours.
UNE advised that it wanted to know what these extended hours were. UNE told the employer that it was completely unacceptable to have our members work until 2:30 am in order to serve every client and when it realized it was not possible, had staff come back the following morning. The employer concurred and advised it would follow up.
June 21, 2022
UNE met again with the employer on June 16, 2022 as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer and Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 as well as Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President 20088, attended the meeting.
Employer representatives reported on their regions and updated the Union with respect to security measures in place, more particularly how the employer has increased its security.
Security & Communications
UNE appreciated the update and the effort to increase security, but it’s not enough. Notably, UNE indicated that Le Devoir had posted an article where Minister Gould said that “it is up to her Public Servants to offer, to those who show up in person, to process the passport application service 45 working days before departure or less.” This is not helpful. The offices are at capacity dealing with requests for those traveling within 24-48 hours, not days.
Discussions continue surrounding the health and safety of our members, and communications with clients and staff.
Our members are exhausted and overworked. The announcement of the lifting of the vaccination requirements to travel will cause another surge just before a long weekend and the simple fact is that the department will be even more short staffed with employees taking well deserved leave.
UNE recommended again, that the communication to the population be changed to be transparent: Do not make plans to travel if you do not have a passport. Furthermore, close comments sections on different social media platforms. They are not helpful at this time.
Although UNE is pleased to hear about some measures taken, we questioned the employer about how it intends to support staff that are witnessing acts of violence.
UNE also noted that it has again received inquiries about the right of employees to refuse dangerous work.
Training, Staffing & Quality Control
The UNE raised that the quality of training is causing concerns with our members. Our members have noted that there is such a push on service delivery and production, to the detriment of the integrity and security of the passport. UNE would like to have further discussions on this subject in a future meeting.
Finally, UNE raised concerns with respect to the staffing plan and would like to discuss in depth at a future meeting.
June 15, 2022
UNE met with the Employer to follow-up on the ongoing Passport issues. Kevin King, National President, Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer and Nathalie Fitzback, Local President 10520, attended the meeting.
The employer and the Union discussed different priorities such as communications, service response and acceleration of training. The employer noted that it is currently reviewing the feasibility to provide more simplified training however, since every site is designed differently, the department will have to review this proposal by individual site.
UNE raised concerns with communications to clients and highly recommended that real-time wait times be posted on the website for each dedicated passport centre. This will improve client expectations because as the system works right now, people are showing up and becoming increasingly frustrated that the wait time is not as advertised. UNE also recommended that call centre messaging to clients be better scripted to minimize inaccurate information that may cause for more client irritability. Finally, UNE recommended that the employer be more present in real time on social media platforms, however, if the employer does not use social media in a more responsive way, that it closes the comments to minimize misinformation.
UNE further noted that the consistent messaging it heard through the site visits was the appointment system simply doesn’t work. UNE provided the example that appointments are supposed to be 10 minutes long, however simply put, just processing the payment takes 2 minutes. This doesn’t leave enough time to process a simple file, let alone complex files. Although it understands that the employer has put a lot of time, effort and funds into the online appointment system, it simply doesn’t work and should be phased out.
Finally, UNE commented again on overtime and that the employer should let employees work from home on paperless files and that the employer should have a more consistent and standardized approach. This will ensure not only the health and safety of our members but also provide for a better work/life balance.
June 14, 2022
UNE met again with the employer on June 9, 2022 as part of their commitment to meet weekly. Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer and Nathalie Fitzback, Local President, Local 10520 attended the meeting.
Employer representatives reported on their regions and updated the Union with respect to security measures in place and how each region manages their lines. They also shared that executives and managers were on site and discussed strategies regarding commissionaire presence and particular issues that occurred, such as the printing challenges at the St Laurent office.
UNE raised concerns with ongoing security problems. Specifically, clients blocking entrances and having too much access to staff. The wait times shown on the website are inaccurate, giving clients unrealistic expectations. As a result, more people show up and lines become crowded with frustrated clients. Providing the correct information and managing misinformation coming out of social media would improve line ups and client expectations.
Overtime and Virtual Work
During our site visits we have asked how the overtime is distributed and managed.
Some sites offer virtual work, while others ask employees to work in the office on paperless files. This came as a surprise and is a concern for UNE since there are inconsistencies on how the overtime is managed from site to site. While we understand that this is up to the workplace, UNE hopes that the employer, on a national level, would encourage uniformity and virtual work.
As mentioned before, the passport officers are tired, and deserve a work/life balance, but they also want to be productive members of the team and work where they can. Offering virtual work would benefit both the employer and our members by files being done, and giving the opportunity for employees to go home and have dinner with their family (as an example) and then logging on and work on files a few hours. We hope that by raising this at this forum, the employer will communicate with their respective centres to support virtual work.
June 6, 2022
UNE met with the Employer to follow-up on the ongoing Passport issues. Manon Boy, National Labour Relations Officer, Nathalie Fitzback, Local President 10520 and Vanny Del Bianco, Local Vice-President 20088, attended the meeting.
The Employer provided a brief overview of the ongoing work being done to help with the Passport issues in the past week with some regional updates and noted they have worked on updating the website, simplifying processes and maximizing staffing plans.
The Employer also noted they have added management team members and increased the number of Commissionaires in some locations to improve employee safety.
Finally, the Employer shared that they now have extended hours in some centres with high volume.
UNE responded, raised concerns and asked questions, more particularly but not limited to:
- Ensuring safety of our members by better managing queues, the website and transparent communication with clients. If all of this is well managed, the aggressiveness and anxiety of clients will decrease.
- The website should show the processing time of each office (24h, 48h, etc.) and not the waiting time. This would be more transparent when it comes to realistic expectations. If the Employer insists on continuing to have daily reports, it would be important that they reflect the reality of the wait times.
- Concerns with inconsistency of the office closures. UNE was surprised to hear that the Employer stating that it has, in some offices, extended the hours, and that there was no consultation. The Union is concerned that some offices turn away clients when they are at full capacity while others serve all clients and end up closing the office at 11:30pm. This causes employee fatigue and mental health issues.
- It is false to claim that the surge will be in 2023. It has been known that clients renew their passports a year in advance and that part of the incoming traffic is in relation to the 10-year passport renewal.
UNE Commented on the different topics discussed during the House of Commons meeting on the passport service standards
Comments made with respect to Vaccination
When asked what the status of the vaccination was and calling these employees back to work, the response was that there are only a low number of employees not vaccinated and overall, it would not affect the numbers. UNE disagrees with that statement. Because of the urgency of the situation, UNE recommends that the Employer place a moratorium on the policy. UNE has members that have been denied duty to accommodate and are ready to work. The employer can easily accommodate them with rapid testing and teleworking.
Predictability of passport issues
UNE agrees with the comment on the predictability and foreseeable of the passport issues. What has the employer done during the pandemic to prepare?
Minister Gould commented that 85% of passport requests are first-time applicants. UNE questions the validity of this statement since we have learned that majority of the passport requests are applications for children’s passports and usually not their first application.
Service standard limited to 45 days: Why the changes when passport officers cannot handle 25 days out? Also, the UNE questioned why no information about this change was shared with UNE.
Increasing Staff and Organizational Issues
When asked about the 600 new hires and how many Passport Officers were already on staff, the answer was before pandemic 1500 / post pandemic 2100 were processing passport. The UNE questions this statement and further asked the employer: How many passport officers can entitle a passport? All the applications can be accepted faster by having employees who are processing passports, but there is a big difference in the outcome if at the other end there are not enough qualified Passport Officers who can entitle the passport. As such, this does not provide the true picture of how the employer’s staffing plan will help accelerate the production of passport.
With respect to the plan to increase staff and the 3-prong approach: realigning of staff, hiring and technology, UNE asked for the human resources plan and we would be interested in the discussions on that topic. With respect to comments made on management and organizational issues – the UNE would be interested in continuing the discussions since we have long term solutions to recommend.
Reaction from Employer
The Employer agreed to provide answers. Additionally, as a result of the overwhelming amount of information provided by UNE, it was agreed that, further to the weekly discussions, “deep dive” meetings would be scheduled to focus on discussing and finding solutions on specific subjects.
This is another update from Passport Corner. UNE is YOUR UNION and we are here to help! Contact us with your questions, concerns and suggestions at email@example.com.
May 27, 2022
UNE National President Kevin King, National Labour Relations Officer Manon Boy and Local 10520 President Nathalie Fitzback met with the Employer on Friday May 27, 2022. The purpose of the meeting was to follow up on the passport discussions that occurred during the Service-Union Management Consultation Committee (SUMCC) meeting.
Following incidents in some centres, the Employer agreed that actions must be taken in order to support the health and safety of our members and solutions be developed to ensure these types of incidents don’t happen again.
UNE noted that our members are anxious and afraid to go to work. They are also tired. The UNE further raised that the Employer should look into heightening security in what are considered “hot spots”.
UNE further raised that the Employer should look at processing simplification, updating its service standard online to manage clients’ expectations, and look at system reporting.
The parties agreed to meet on a weekly basis to continue the discussions.
May 25, 2022
UNE National President Kevin King and National Labour Relations Officer Manon Boy met with the Employer on May 25, 2022. The purpose of the visit was to report UNE’s observations and concerns raised during recent site visits.
Specifically, UNE raised the following concerns:
- Line management (between appointments/no appointment, transfers, pick ups)
- Staffing, onboarding and transfers
- Health and safety issues including violence, hair pulling, shouting, aggressive behaviour by clients, long term effects on mental health, stress and anxiety (some members have been followed in the parking lot), and fatigue
- Service standards
- Lack of communication between Service Canada and Passport offices
- Inconsistency of signage (Proof of travel, harassment and violence)
- Inconsistency of screening processes between offices and call centres
- Lack of training spaces
- Ineffective use of social media (always answer with links to complaint/link to follow up the status of the request)
- Unrealistic client expectations
- Concerns with the security and integrity of the passport
- Ensure staff finish their workday on time
- Time to disconnect from the workplace
- Fear that due to the operations, leave requests for the upcoming summer would be cancelled or not approved
- Lack of communication between IRCC and Passport Canada regarding long and short passport demands (Review system harmonization)
- Capacity management and predictability ahead of time
- Policy review
- All level of employees feel they are not heard by upper management. In fact, they wish more executives would actually visit and observe their daily struggles and listen to ideas that could easily be implemented at low or no additional cost.
UNE proposed the following recommendations/solutions:
- Review of transfer processes
- Review of policies
- Review of the services standards: Update Service Standards on the web and call centres
- Clear communication line between Service Canada service centres, call centres, and Passport centres. Be clear, truthful and transparent. This will certainly help manage the clients’ expectations
- Have a clear staffing/HR plan
- Update signage
- Use social media effectively by providing concrete answers
- Ensure staff can disconnect and can plan their evenings
- Plan for proper staffing
The Employer noted the concerns and agreed there was much work to be done.
Future meetings will be scheduled to continue the dialogue.