Ombudsman writes to ADM (HR-Civ) concerning visit to 12 Wing Shearwater, NS

 9 April 2015

Ms. Cynthia Binnington
Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Civilian)
National Defence Headquarters
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0K2
 

Dear Cynthia:

I recently completed an engagement visit to CFB Halifax and 12 Wing Shearwater, from March 2-6, 2015.  During this visit, my staff and I were pleased to meet with and listen to concerns and feedback from military personnel, civilian employees, caregivers and military family members. I would like to highlight some of the concerns that we heard regarding civilian employees and human resources issues relating to staffing processes.

There is significant concern amongst the medical staff relating to the ability to fill public service positions with qualified medical practitioners. Not unlike other locations across Canada, retirements are occurring within the medical group and there is a significant need to replace those individuals in a timely fashion. 

Issues were raised regarding the inability to access national pools of qualified practitioners, acquiring the correct and timely status of pools through human resources staff, and the overall length of time to hire medical professionals.  The stated result for the medical leadership at CFB Halifax is the loss of experienced candidates due to the significant delays in the hiring process. Similar issues were noted with staffing processes to fill support staff. Exhausted national pools result in much time and effort to manage casual contracts.

Also in respect of staffing, it was suggested that a review be conducted of the salary levels of the Psychologist positions in relation to the qualification standard.  Specifically, it was noted that it is increasingly difficult to find qualified individuals at the current salary scale with the level of experience demanded. We were told that the salary levels are more in line with a less experienced Psychologist than that noted in the standard and, as such, the Department of National Defence is not seen as the employer of choice for this group in the Halifax area.

Concerns were also raised locally around the costs and administration of parking, the potential for further alternate service delivery and the continuance of the Referral Agent training. All of these items are noted as contributing to employee morale issues.

More specifically, sincere concerns were expressed about the future of the training program for Employee Assistance Program Referral Agents. Employees expressed that with the operational tempo remaining at a high level on the base, the program is a valuable and needed resource.  They appreciate that MARLANT leadership paid for training for the last year, but are concerned that the program will be phased out when it continues to be needed.

The future of alternate service delivery on the base is a source of stress for the civilian employees. There is an impression that individuals could be training their potential replacement staff. Clearly there is some further communication around this issue required locally, and the base Commander committed to keep the dialogue open. 

I am also offering my assistance should you wish to follow up on any of these matters. I am a firm believer that collaboration and sharing best practices leads to long-lasting positive changes.

Sincerely,
 

Gary Walbourne
Ombudsman

Date modified: