Update from the President of PAFSO for July 5, 2024

Dear members,

I hope you all had the chance to enjoy a bit of a break over the Canada Day long weekend. Things here at headquarters are quite busy again. As you know, this past Monday marked one year since the transition of the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP) to a new administrator. After a year of the ensuing fiasco, we had to put our foot down and say, “Enough is enough.”

Let me get you up to date.

PAFSO files human rights complaints for Foreign Officers deprived of heath care coverage
On Tuesday, we have officially launched human rights complaints against both the Government of Canada and MSH International on behalf of PAFSO members deprived of adequate health care coverage while serving Canada abroad. Here is the link to our news release and background package.

This is a big step, and one we are not happy to have to take. But after repeated efforts to engage with the Employer, all we have seen are band-aid measures and finger pointing. It is time for real action. It is time for real solutions. It is time for the Government to meet its obligations.

As many of you know first-hand, this failure of both the Government and MSH International to fulfill their duty to our members has serious consequences, especially for persons with disabilities and other protected groups. That’s why we will also be supporting individual complaints by affected members. If you have been affected by this fiasco and would be interested in filing a human rights complaint, please contact our office for advice and assistance as to how to proceed.

We have also received a number of requests from journalists who would like to speak to affected members, on background or not for attribution if you prefer. If you are willing to discuss your situation with a journalist, please let our office know and we will contact you to discuss the arrangements.

This issue has been a thorn in our side for over a year now and has been the cause of a great deal of psychological and financial stress to our members – to say nothing of the obvious medical risks it poses. Something had to be done.

Obviously, there will be many developments as this issue unfolds. I will be sure to keep you as up to date as possible in the coming weeks.

Preliminary results from the 2024 PAFSO Triennial Survey
As I reported last time, the 2024 Triennial Survey was a great success. A record number of you took the time to answer our very comprehensive questionnaire. The results are currently being analyzed, but I can share with you a few top line data points.

The general makeup of our membership is mostly unchanged from three years ago. 77% of you are employed at GAC while the other 23% are at IRCC. The percentage of members on assignment abroad is slightly higher, with 57% of respondents indicating being at post.

Overall job satisfaction appears to be up. We now see 54% of respondents indicating that they will likely retire from the Foreign Service, which is up considerably from 2021. Similarly, we see the number of respondents reporting unfair treatment from the employer in the assignment process is down to 51% from 57% in 2021 – still too high, but an improvement, nonetheless.

Our group’s demographics are largely unchanged, with a 55/42 split between members identifying as female and male. 17% of you identify as a visible minority, while 5% identify as indigenous persons.

When it comes to factors that contribute to the difficulties of living and working abroad, 51% of respondents cited access to medical services. This is compounded by the over 70% of our members who report having experienced significant issues in dealing with the new administrators of the PSHCP.

That’s just a quick look at the numbers we just got. We will have a deeper analysis for you in the coming weeks. I’ll be sure to let you know what that becomes available.

PAFSO Breakfast on strategic planning July 9 at 0900 Ottawa time
Here’s another reminder of our PAFSO Breakfast on strategic planning next week. If you haven’t already registered, you can do so by clicking here. Please join me next Tuesday morning for an update on our strategic planning process and to discuss which priorities you would like to see in our next plan, which will be presented at our AGM in October.

If you can’t make it to next Tuesday’s breakfast, please consider joining one of the other webinars I will be hosting, at 1230 EDT on Thursday, July 11, and at 7pm EDT on Wednesday, July 17.

The 2024 union dues adjustment
Just a reminder that this past Monday, 1 July, your monthly union dues underwent an adjustment. As a rule, your union dues are adjusted each time new rates of pay are negotiated in a collective agreement and are set to come into effect one year after the signing – which took place on 30 June last year. You can find out more about this recent adjustment and about your union dues in general in this great FAQ on our website.

That’s it for this week’s message. We’ll chat again in two weeks. Between now and then, I will keep you informed of anything that arises from our human rights complaints.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to us if you are having any concerns at work. Are you having issues with your pay? Do you feel harassed or discriminated against? Do you have a grievance or a staffing complaint? Or do you just want some clarifications on our collective agreement or the FSDs? Whatever the case, PAFSO is here for you. Just send us an email with your name, department and a detailed description of your concerns. For anything and everything else, please send us an email at info@pafso.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

All the best,

Pam Isfeld