Post Living Differential for St-Hyacinthe

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Post Living Differential for St-Hyacinthe

Case number

Description

In a recent case handled by the Board, the grievor had been posted to St-Hubert in 2004 and decided to reside in St-Hyacinthe. Both St-Hubert and St-Hyacinthe were situated within the geographical area of Montreal, which was divided into two post living differential areas (PLDA), Montreal North Shore and Montreal South Shore. The city of St-Hyacinthe fell within the South Shore area and, consequently, members whose place of service was within Montréal and who resided in St-Hyacinthe received the PLD for the South Shore area.

However, in 2005, through CANFORGEN 162/05, the Director Compensation and Benefits Administration (DCBA) assigned a "PLD rate" to the city of St-Hyacinthe lower than that of the PLDA of Montreal South Shore, recognizing that the cost of living in that area had decreased. In February 2008, while the grievor was still receiving the PLD at the rate for Montreal South Shore, the Canadian Forces sought reimbursement of the PLD overpayment retroactive to 1 January 2006. However, the city of St-Hyacinthe did not become a PLDA until 1 April 2008, at which time it appeared in the table added to Compensation and Benefits Instructions (CBI) 205.45.

The Board concluded that, pursuant to CBI 205.45, the PLD is awarded to members whose principal residence is located in a PLDA, which must fall within the geographical boundaries of a place of service; this provision does not provide that members shall receive the PLD rate associated with their place of service or the place of their principal residence.

The Board noted that the DCBA had taken the position that attribution of a PLD "rate" to a given city means that the city automatically becomes a PLDA. However, PLDAs have always been identified through a message or a table within the CBIs. Accordingly, the Board concluded that it was likely that other members who had been posted to the geographical area of Montreal but had their principal residence in St-Hyacinthe had also been prejudiced by this inappropriate interpretation.

Recommendation

Consequently, the Board recommended that the Chief of the Defence Staff order a review of all files involving members who have their principal residence in St-Hyacinthe, thereby ensuring that these members received the PLD rate for the Montreal South Shore during their period of eligibility (i.e. up until 31 March 2008), as it is only on 1 April 2008 that St-Hyacinthe officially became a PLDA under the table to CBI 205.45.

Final Authority Decision

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) notes that CBI 205.45 did not specify the locations eligible for the PLD, but he believes that the CANFORGENs, which did have this information, should have been consulted.  The city of St-Hyacinthe is mentioned for the first time in CANFORGEN 162/05, paragraph 2 which indicates that rate reductions and cessations for this location, among others, take effect on 1 January 2006.  Consequently, the grievor should receive the PLD rate for St-Hyacinthe as of that date, and not that for the Montreal South Shore as the Board recommends.  Given this decision, the CDS has not replied to the Board's systemic recommendation to review the files of all CF members with their principal residence in St-Hyacinthe to ensure that these members received the PLD rate for the Montreal South Shore for the period in question.

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