# 2021-204 Pay and Benefits, Home equity assistance program

Home equity assisatnce program (HEAP)

Case summary

F&R Date: 2021-12-13

On 19 April 2018, revisions to the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program (CFIRP) Directive 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 grievor relocated from Cold Lake, Alberta in May 2020. The grievor's home in Cold Lake sold in August 2020 with an equity loss of approximately $112,000. The grievor, reimbursed $30,000 from the Core funding envelope, argued that the CFIRP Directive in effect at the time of the home purchase should be applicable, and asked for interest to be paid until reimbursement was received.

The Initial Authority (IA), the Director General Compensation and Benefits, found that on 17 July 2018, the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) declared that houses sold in Cold Lake after 18 April 2018 would be subject to the revised version of the CFIRP Directive HEA policy, which no longer contained the depressed market benefit. The IA denied the grievance, finding that previous CFIRP Directive was no longer applicable given the grievor’s home sold after 18 April 2018. The IA acknowledged that a systemic issue exists, following the withdrawal of the depressed market designation, and stated that the TBS is currently considering HEA cases. 

The Committee first considered whether the grievor had a vested right to be administered under the previous CFIRP Directive, but found that the house would have had to have been sold before 19 April 2018 in order to have locked-in that vested right. 

The Committee cited an interview given by the Director of Compensation and Benefits Administration (DCBA) to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in May 2018, where 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 Directive. DCBA staff later advised the Committee that the “caveat” was the CFIRP Directive article 2.1.01. The Committee found that CFIRP Directive article 2.1.01 applied to the grievor's case given that the expense in question was directly related to the relocation and the extent of the equity loss was exceptional in nature.  

The Committee also observed that taxation of the current $30,000 HEA maximum reimbursement under Core serves to reduce the benefit received by the grievor. Since taxation is governed by the Income Tax Act, the Committee recommended that the CAF and TBS pursue a reduction in this tax burden on military members. 

Lastly, the Committee found there is no regulation that provides for the payment of interest to the grievor. The Committee recommended that the Final Authority direct DCBA to forward the grievor's claim, for full reimbursement of the equity loss to TBS, with the full support of the CAF

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