Delays at Initial Authority Level

Topic

Delays at Initial Authority Level

Case number

Description

The Board has reviewed a considerable number of grievances indicating that the Director General Compensation and Benefits (DGCB) is experiencing significant difficulty in carrying out the duties of an initial authority (IA) in a timely manner due to a backlog of grievances awaiting consideration and determination.  

Article 7.07 of the Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O), which addresses the duties of the IA, does not state or suggest that the IA may request an extension to adjudicate a grievance.  Instead, paragraph 1 of the disposition creates an expectation in the reader’s mind, that a decision will be rendered within 60 days.

Evidence in recent cases suggests that the DGCB grievance staff were aware that it was taking anywhere from 10 to 15 months for the DGCB to adjudicate grievances.  Yet, they typically requested 90 or 180-day extensions from the grievors to adjudicate their grievances.  In one file recently submitted to the Board, the member was asked to approve no fewer than six extension requests over a period of approximately 14 months and there was no indication that any work had been accomplished on the file over that period of time. 

After reviewing several grievances, it appears to the Board that the situation is deteriorating rather than improving.  The Board is extremely concerned with the DGCB backlog situation and its negative impact on the grievors and on the Canadian Forces (CF) grievance process. 

In the Board's view, CF members are entitled to have their grievances adjudicated within a reasonable time. If, for lack of personnel or resources, the IA cannot respect its regulatory obligation, as a minimum, grievors should be accurately advised of the expected delay and be given an update as to the work performed to date on the file. 

Recommendation

The Board recommended that in cases where the IA cannot respect its regulatory obligation, as a minimum, grievors should be accurately advised of the expected delays.  Moreover, should an additional extension be needed, the request should include an update as to the work performed to date on the file.  This will assist the grievors in making an informed decision as to whether it is in their best interests to approve the extension request.  Finally, the grievors should be informed that, notwithstanding the granting of any extension, they continue to have the right to ask for their file to be referred to the final authority for adjudication at any time after the 60-day period contemplated by QR&O article 7.07 has elapsed.

Final Authority Decision

The CDS endorsed the Board' systemic recommendation regarding the significant backlog at DGCB, and he agreed that the grievors be provided with more accurate expectation and information on their grievance. Therefore, he forwarded the two-fold recommendation to DGCB for consideration and implementation where deemed feasible.

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