# 2014-114 - Education Allowance, Shelter Allowance Outside Canada

Education Allowance, Shelter Allowance Outside Canada

Case Summary

F&R Date: 2015–05–14

The grievor was posted abroad for a three-year tour. His two dependants remained in Canada to continue their education and lived in a condominium purchased by the grievor. As a result, the grievor was entitled to receive shelter assistance under the Foreign Service Directive (FSD) 34 - Education Allowance. However, during the third year of his posting he was advised at the beginning of the school year that the shelter assistance has been modified by a working group within the National Joint Council (NJC). The allowance was significantly decreased to exclude mortgage and condominium fees.The grievor contended that he should have received the full benefit for the duration of his three-year posting, as discussed with the experts in this field before being posted abroad. Further, the grievor claimed that the short notice of the change in benefit provided him with no options to mitigate his losses.

The Initial Authority (IA), the Director General Compensation and Benefits, denied the grievance. He stated that a NJC working committee approved the new direction and that he was bound by the regulations governing Education Allowance.

The Committee had to determine whether the grievor was entitled to the same level of shelter assistance for the duration of his posting, whether the reduced benefit during the third year was in conformity with the applicable NJC FSD and whether reasonable notice was provided to the grievor that his benefits would be reduced.

The Committee reviewed the process under which FSD 34 was modified and found that the working group had the authority to issue the new guidance, which was consistent with the benefits framework for FSD 34. The Committee noted that benefits can change over time and the grievor was not promised three years of the shelter allowance benefit at the higher rate for the duration of his posting. The Committee found that the change to eligible shelter related expenses was rational and consistent with the purpose of FSD 34.

However, the Committee found that the CAF did not notify the grievor of the changes and could have done so months before the grievor was officially advised. Despite the CAF having a member on the working group, who was present at the meeting when the changes to FSD 34 were made, there was no implementation plan made by the CAF to permit affected members to adjust to the reduction in benefits. The Committee found that the CAF treated the grievor unfairly by imposing a substantial, poorly timed reduction in shelter assistance benefits on him, without notice, and by the lack of an implementation period to allow him and his family to prepare for the impact of the reduction.

The Committee recommended that redress be sought outside the CAF grievance process, given that shelter assistance is governed by a NJC policy. The Committee further recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff acknowledge that the CAF bears some responsibility for the unreasonable delay and lack of implementation of the new procedure for shelter assistance, and refer the case to the Director Claims and Civil Litigation with his support.

FA Decision Summary

While the FA expressed that it is regrettable that the grievor was not informed of the change in a timely manner, he believes that, had he followed-up with the Dependant Education Manager Officer – Europe, he would have been told about the changes and the reasons for the delay. The FA disagreed with the Committee's finding that the CAF should bear some responsibility for the grievor's financial hardship, and furthermore, he found that he has no authority to accept the liability. Therefore, the FA did not agree with the Committee's recommendation that the grievor's case be referred to DCCL with his support.

Page details

Date modified: