PAFSO is aware of the challenges with the current shelter share methodology and is actively working to address it.
The current methodology is based on Statistics Canada census data. Instead of being tied to annual Ontario rent increase rates, it’s tied to what households in the Ottawa-Gatineau area report spending on shelter within each census. As an example, here’s how the shelter share amounts have been impacted since 2011:
- 2011 Census data collected, shelter share remains unchanged
- 2012 2011 census data analysed, shelter share remains unchanged
- 2013 2011 census data analysed, shelter share remains unchanged
- 2014 Shelter share is adjusted to reflect the amounts households in the Ottawa-Gatineau area reported spending on shelter in 2011 (resulting in a shelter share increase of about 7% for the average FS)
- 2015 Shelter share remains unchanged
- 2016 Census data collected, shelter share remains unchanged
- 2017 2016 census data analysed, shelter share remains unchanged
- 2018 Shelter share is adjusted to reflect the amounts households in the Ottawa-Gatineau area reported spending on shelter in 2016 (resulting in a shelter share increase of 16-18% for the average FS)
So while shelter share does not change at all for the years in between when census data is ready to be applied (as per above, shelter share remained static for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and then again for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017), the current methodology leads to big jump for the years when the shelter share is actually adjusted. A particular challenge for the FS community is that if someone arrives at post during a year when the shelter share was just adjusted, they may ‘luck out’ and end up with the same shelter share for their entire posting, but if an individual arrives at post a year or more after an adjustment, they’re likely to be hit with a significant shelter share increase mid-posting.
With regards to notifying employees, FSD 25 does stipulate that shelter share will be adjusted annually to reflect changes in employee salary as well as every five years to reflect the most recent census data. While it’s only been four years since the last adjustment (last adjustment was in 2014), the last adjustment was actually scheduled for 2013 but was delayed a year by the employer. So, while the adjustment came a year early this time, the last time rates were adjusted, the adjustment came a year late. While PAFSO will raise this timing concern with the employer, we are not expecting a positive response. The employer is likely to express concern about the delay in implementing the 2011 census data permanently pushing shelter share adjustment dates farther away from the years when the data is collected. The shorter the time-frame between when the census data is collected and when the rates are adjusted, the more comparable the shelter share will be to what individuals in Ottawa-Gatineau are actually paying.
All of the above being said, PAFSO is currently involved in a cyclical review of the FSDs and the shelter methodology is one of the topics being discussed at the table. The FSD cyclical review process involves employer and bargaining agent representatives negotiating FSD wording revisions. We are hopeful that a new methodology, involving smaller but more frequent shelter share adjustments can be agreed to. The space targets/guidelines are also currently tied to the census data and have also remained static for four years. PAFSO is also hopeful that the space targets/guidelines methodology can be addressed within the current round of cyclical review. The target date for FSD wording revisions currently being negotiated is April 1, 2019.