September 26, 2023
What is the NJC and what is an “NJC Grievance”?
The National Joint Council (“NJC”) is an entity / partnership created in 1944. It is designed to allow Employers and Bargaining Agents to negotiate and develop collaborative solutions to workplace problems.
Per Article 7.03 of the NPF Collective Bargaining Agreement (“NPF CBA”), the RCMP and the NPF have opted into a number of “NJC Directives” that deal with various workplace issues.
When the parties have a dispute involving a topic governed by an “NJC Grievance”, they must file an “NJC Grievance”, per Article 15.01 of the NPF CBA and section 15 of the NJC by-laws.
What is a “Shelter Cost Differential”?
One of the NJC Directives that the NPF and the RCMP have opted in to is the “Isolated Posts and Government Housing Directive” (“IPGHD”).
The purpose of this directive is to facilitate the recruitment and retention of staff delivering government programs in isolated locations. Its provisions are designed to assist in offsetting some of the higher costs and to recognize the inherent disadvantages associated with living and working in isolated posts.
Section 1.10 of the Isolated Posts Directive sets out an entitlement to what is known as a “Shelter Cost Differential” or “SCD”. An SCD is payable to employees in private accommodation and in government housing at qualifying isolated posts to help offset the higher shelter charges experienced there.
Section 1.10.3 of the Isolated Posts Directive sets out entitlements for “Private Accommodation”:
For employees occupying private accommodation, the SCD is the difference between the BSV for the 3-bedroom benchmark model at the isolated post and the national average BSV for the 3-bedroom benchmark model at the locations identified as points of departure […]
Historically, “Private Accommodation” has included both private accommodations that are rented AND owned. For many, the availability of the SCD may have played a critical role in the decision to take an Isolated Post.
What has changed?
On August 31, 2023, NPF Members received an email from RCMP NCS Pay Standards indicating that SCD payments for privately owned accommodations would be phased out over the course of the next year:
- The email states that the Treasury Board has “clarified” that the SCD is payable only to those who are renting private accommodations and not to those who own private accommodations.
- Members were asked to confirm if they are renting a private accommodation and entitled to this allowance. If renting private accommodation, Members were asked to complete an IPGHD Allowances Declaration Form and return it to RCMP NCS Pay Standards ([email protected]) by October 18, 2023.
- No further action was required of Members owning private accommodation. Such Members will receive a decrease in the SCD allowance effective December 1, 2023, which will stop outright on September 1, 2024.
- If no form is returned, Members’ allowance will cease on September 1, 2024.
In short: if you OWN your private accommodation and have historically received SCD payments, this decision impacts you.
What is the NPF doing to contest this change?
The NPF has filed a Request for Interpretation / Clarification to the NJC and has made it known that the NPF disagrees with this change to the interpretation of “Private Accommodation”.
We are also encouraging Members impacted by this change to contact the NPF Member Services Centre as soon as possible to obtain assistance with filing an individual NJC Grievance.
Should I refuse to complete the “IPGHD Allowances Declaration Form” if I am objecting to this change / filing an NJC Grievance?
If you rent your private accommodation: please complete and return the Declaration Form to ensure your SCD allowance is not terminated on September 1, 2024.
If you own your private accommodation: you may still complete the Declaration Form. Completing the form does not mean you are acquiescing to the change. However, if you do not complete the form, your SCD allowance will automatically decrease December 1, 2023 and be cut-off September 1, 2024. The only way to contest this is through the NJC Grievance process.
I want to file an NJC Grievance, can I just do that on my own?
No. In order to file an NJC Grievance, you must have the approval of and be represented by the NPF, per section 15.1.4 of the NJC by-laws.
What does the process look like?
Once you contact the NPF Member Services Centre, you will be assigned to a Labour Relations Officer (“LRO”).
The LRO will respond via email with instructions on how to file an individual NJC Grievance. The email will include a standard NJC Grievance that you can sign and submit. You can print, sign and scan or you can sign electronically.
What happens after I file an NJC Grievance?
The NJC Grievance process, unfortunately, does not have a very flexible “group grievance” process (as it requires advance written consent from all participants).
As such, these NJC Grievances may initially be scheduled independently / individually.
The NPF will communicate its desire to have all individual NJC Grievances on this issue heard together.
In the event that you are contacted by the NJC about your specific NJC Grievance, please forward all correspondence to the LRO you are assigned to. They will provide you with direction on whether to respond, and if so, the language to respond with.
You will be provided with an update when case management decisions have been finalized.