The Administration and the Eligibility Criteria for the Land Duty Allowance (LDA) in the Canadian Forces

Topic

The Administration and the Eligibility Criteria for the Land Duty Allowance (LDA) in the Canadian Forces

Case number

Description

In this case, the grievor claims that his unit meets the definition of “field unit.” It is his view, therefore, that his unit should be added to the list of units eligible for the Land Duty Allowance (LDA). 

As well, on a more general level, the grievor feels that the LDA eligibility criteria listed at article 205.33 of the Compensation and Benefits Instructions (CBI) are being wrongly interpreted by the Canadian Forces (CF). The grievor suggests that, given the nature of their roles, other units on the list of units eligible for the LDA are not exposed, as his unit is, to difficult working conditions and harsh environments in the field for long periods of time.

The grievor also compared certain members of units eligible for the LDA to members of his own unit and alleged that the former were not exposed to difficult working conditions and harsh environments in the field, but were nonetheless receiving the LDA. In his view, this erroneous interpretation of the eligibility criteria is leading to an inequitable distribution of the allowance and affecting troop morale.

Although the Board did conclude that the grievor’s unit is not a field unit and is therefore not eligible for the LDA, it believes that the grievor’s concerns respecting the management of the LDA within the CF were sufficiently important and serious to warrant a general review of the LDA eligibility criteria. The main concerns arising from this case are as follows:

1)  CF members are eligible for the LDA based on the unit to which they are posted, whether or not they are actually exposed to harsh conditions in the field on a regular basis.  On the other hand, for a position to be designated by the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the position holder must be exposed to harsh conditions in the field for 90 days. This difference in treatment is perceived as unfair by CF members.  Ultimately, the Board is asking whether a CF member who is not exposed to harsh conditions should receive the LDA ?

2)  Despite their intentions in this matter, the CF does not carry out systematic and regular reviews of the list of field units.  Given the amounts of money at stake, the Board has expressed its concern with this lack of follow-up.

3)  As explained above, it isn’t necessary for members of field units to be exposed to harsh conditions for 90 days per year in order to receive the LDA, yet this is the standard imposed on members holding designated positions.  By the same token, there are no standards governing the number or percentage of positions required within a unit for it to be designated by the Minister or eligible for the LDA.

4)  On first reading, it would appear that several of the units on the different eligibility lists issued since 2008 have never met the definition of “field unit.”  Yet despite that, members of these units are collecting the LDA because they remain on the list of field units recognized by the CF.  And of the units  removed from the list, some of them had this occur retroactively, others not.  This unexplained and unjustified difference in treatment means that some CF members have simply stopped collecting the LDA while others have been required to reimburse all the LDA they received in the past. This situation is of serious concern to the Board.

Recommendation

The Board recommended that the CDS order an immediate review of the management and administration of the LDA within the CF in order to address the four concerns raised above.

The Board recommended that the CDS order the establishment of standards or criteria to be used in identifying units that the Minister might designate for the purposes of the LDA, taking into account the purpose of this allowance, so as to ensure equitable treatment and administrative procedures for the positions and units eligible under the CBIs.

The Board recommended that the CDS initiate an information campaign regarding this allowance aimed at giving CF members a better understanding of the purpose and eligibility criteria of the LDA.

Final Authority Decision

Since the CLS is currently completing an LDA reform proposal, including its elimination, the CDS decided not to comment on the Board’s systemic recommendation to review LDA management and establish norms to identify units that could be designated by the Minister under the LDA.  However, he ordered the CLS and the CMP to make the LDA reform a priority.

The CDS also determined that the Board's recommendation to hold an information campaign was overtaken by the reform that will take place.

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