# 2020-184 Pay and Benefits, Definition of sale date, Home Equity Assistance Program, Policy change implementation

Definition of sale date, Home Equity Assistance Program (HEAP), Policy change implementation

Case summary

F&R Date: 2021-02-17

The grievor relocated from Cold Lake, Alberta in July 2016, although his home remained unsold. The grievor entered into an agreement for the sale of his home in January 2018 with a closing date of May 2018. He suffered an equity loss of $125,000. Meanwhile on 19 April 2018, revisions to the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program (CFIRP) came into effect, removing the option to apply for 100% Home Equity Assistance (HEA) reimbursement from the Core envelope for homes sold in a depressed market area.

The Director Compensation and Benefits Administration (DCBA) determined that the grievor's May 2018 closing date occurred after the 19 April 2018 deletion of the 100% HEA reimbursement benefit. Instead, the grievor argued that the signing and lifting of all conditions of the sale agreement occurred before 19 April 2018, when the CFIRP revisions came into effect, and that he should therefore be entitled to 100% reimbursement of his home equity loss as per the previous CFIRP version.

The Initial Authority (IA) found that the revised HEA benefit specifies that home sales with closing dates after 18 April 2018 would be administered under the new policy. The IA also found that the grievor's home sold after 18 April 2018 and could not be administered under the previous CFIRP version. Consequently, the IA did not grant redress. 

The Committee found that neither the CFIRP nor the Treasury Board Secretariat’s (TBS) depressed market declaration for Cold Lake provided a definition of  the “sale date” of a home. The Committee found that the date the sale agreement is signed more appropriately reflects the “sale date” of a home, since the sale agreement date captures the market conditions existing at the time of sale, whereas the closing date may be months later for expediency, and simply concludes the administration of the agreement. The Committee therefore concluded that the grievor had a vested right to be administered under the previous CFIRP version. 

The Committee reviewed the history of the HEA benefit and noted that in an interview given by the DCBA to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in May 2018, the DCBA stated that the intent of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was to address catastrophic home equity losses using a caveat found in the CFIRP. DCBA staff advised the Committee that the caveat the DCBA referred to was the CFIRP article 2.1.01. The Committee found that article 2.1.01 applied to the grievor in that his issue was directly related to his relocation and the extent of his equity loss was exceptional in nature. The Committee recommended that the Final Authority grant 100% HEA reimbursement under the previous CFIRP Directive or, alternatively, direct DCBA to forward the grievor's claim for full reimbursement of his equity loss to the TBS with the full support of the CAF

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