As most of you likely know, ACFO’s negotiating team is scheduled to head back to the bargaining table February 16 for our first round of talks since the election.

The employer’s team not only has a new mandate but there’s also a new chief negotiator on their side. In many ways, we’d be starting from scratch regardless, as not much progress was made under the old regime anyway, but the changes in personnel reinforce just how much of a reboot we are looking at.

On our side, there’s a sense of cautious optimism. Comments made by the Liberals during the election and since they came to power have suggested we can expect good faith bargaining and an open mind across the table. And the decision this week to repeal the legislation that gave the government the power to arbitrarily take away the sick leave regime – a decision no doubt influenced by the constitutional challenge to which ACFO is a complainant and the ILO complaint that ACFO drafted –  is a welcome development.

Even more encouraging, perhaps, is the recognition that the highly touted $900 million savings associated with illegally legislating away the sick leave plan is, in the words of Government House Leader Dominic Leblanc, “voodoo math.” As ACFO Executive Vice-President Dany Richard reminded the Ottawa Citizen, we’ve been making that point since the budget was first tabled.

Our mandate from the FI Community has been clear from the start: ACFO is not to make concessions on the protections that exist for members who fall ill. Over the last year we’ve collected examples of other sick leave and short-term disability plans in place in public and private sector organizations across the country. If the government remains committed to changing the system we have no shortage of ideas on how to make the system better and more fair for everyone. All we need is a team across the table that’s empowered to actually bargain and explore options.

For the first time, we’re seeing evidence to suggest we’ve got one.

If you’ve got any questions, please contact Scott Chamberlain (

Rob Hawkins
ACFO Vice President and Chair of the Collective Bargaining Committee