Meal Rates (Karthoum)

Topic

Meal Rates (Karthoum)

Case numbers

Description

The Standing Orders for OPERATION (OP) AUGURAL Khartoum stated in May 2006 that the meal rate was 60% of the published Treasury Board (TB) daily meal rate. The Joining Instructions, however, stated that the daily meal allowance was 75% of the published TB rate. Additionally, various Military Foreign Service Instruction (MFSIs) published over the course of the mission also authorized different rates. Nonetheless, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who served in OP AUGURAL Khartoum were initially paid at the 75% rate. However, in June 2010, the grievor was advised that Director Compensation and Benefits (DCBA) had directed a recovery from his meal claim on the basis that the 75% rate paid to him was incorrect, and that 60% was the authorized rate. Recovery was subsequently initiated against all members who served in OP AUGURAL Khartoum on the grounds that they were all overpaid for their meal claims.The Committee acknowledged that the CAF members deployed to Khartoum during OP AUGURAL were called upon to make a considerable commitment and self-sacrifice under difficult living and working conditions and found that the daily meal rate of 75% originally paid to these members had merit based upon the evidence gathered by the Committee. The Committee also noted that the intent of the allowances and benefits under the MFSI’s is to recognize and facilitate a member’s service outside Canada and to ensure that they should be neither better nor worse off than their counterparts serving in Canada. The Committee found that reducing the 75% meal rate and recovering substantial sums of money from the CAF members who served in OP AUGURAL Khartoum was unjust because it made them worse off than members serving in Canada, and caused them financial harm by requiring they absorb the out-of-pocket cost of their meals while on assignment overseas when that is clearly not the intent of the policy. The Committee found it unreasonable for the DCBA to arbitrarily reduce the meal rate and initiate recovery action without first making a concerted effort to determine whether the original 75% rate, paid from 2004 to 2010, had any merit. The Committee concluded that, under the MFSI policy, it remains open to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) to restore the rate to the original 75% based on the evidence provided, and that this action would permit the CAF to correct the injustice of recovering monies from the members of OP AUGURAL Khartoum.

Recommendation

The Committee recommended that the CDS direct the Chief of Military Personnel to retroactively increase the daily meal rate for OP AUGURAL Khartoum to 75% of the $102.00 TB authorized daily meal allowance and that all CAF members who served on OP AUGURAL Khartoum,be compensated at the rate of $76.50 per day.

Final Authority Decision

The FA does not agree with the Committee's recommendation that the daily meal rate for OP AUGURAL Khartoum be retroactively increased. The FA found that because of the passing of time and the differences of opinions and statements by various task force commanders and other members of Op AUGURAL deployed in this time period, there was no sufficient evidence to confirm that a formal request was ever made for a rate increase. As for changes to have the meal rate increased, it is not disputed that the cost of food in Khartoum is quite high, but the FA was of the view that the daily meal allowance is intended to defray some of those higher costs, not that the cost of food be fully covered by the CAF. Since there was is no information to suggest the cost place an additional financial burden on CAF members, the FA determined that the entitlement must remain at 60% per day for Op AUGURAL for the dates indicated in CDS Order 037/13.

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