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The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada > News & Events > Communications Magazine > Vol. 36, No. 3, Summer 2010 > Government Parking Policy
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Government Parking Policy

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When news of a potential new parking policy hit in April of 2009, PIPSC was acutely aware of the burden threatening its members. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) committed to consulting with the bargaining agents on the development of that policy. Unfortuantely, that commitment has not been upheld.

In August 2009, PIPSC learned that PWGSC had been working with departments to try to develop a common approach to the implementation of a new government-wide parking policy. The purpose was to have a common starting point for departments to use in developing their own policies. Until now, each department had its own parking arrangement. Many employees were charged little to nothing for parking over the last years, for any number of reasons:

  • Departments had negotiated leases with private suppliers or occupancy rights with PWGSC with blended occupancy and parking rates.
  • The lack of public parking or public transportation was recognized by the employer as a huge impediment to attracting workers and free parking was offered as a compromise.
  • The employing department recognized that no other employer in the area charged for parking, and that it would be unfair and a disincentive to charge federal employees.
  • Employees required free parking as part of their employment, including employees working shifts outside regular business hours.
  • Employees with permanent disabilities, unable to commute to work by public transit or to find a free or less expensive parking lot further away, were provided free parking as an accommodation.
  • The provision of parking at minimal cost was viewed as a compromise for restricted wages and wage increases in the federal public service.

In the absence of union consultation, PWGSC issued a new Custodial Parking Procedure Policy and accompanying Custodial Parking Procedure, effective February 2, 2010. Under the new policy, federal service employees will be charged “market-rate” for parking at facilities in the custody of PWGSC and other departments. However, Directors and Assistant Deputy Ministers will retain their parking privileges. The new PWGSC Policy and Procedure was expected to be applied in a coordinated manner across departments, effective July 1, 2010.

PWGSC’s actions are in flagrant violation of the consultation provisions in collective agreements. PWGSC continued to provide presentations to the unions on proposed policy initiatives while developing its own policy without union input. Aside from the lack of consultation, there are serious concerns with the methodologies used for determining “market rate”. PWGSC carried out a study of parking rates for all custodial buildings to determine appropriate market rates (ranging from $50 to over $400 depending on the location). Not only are employees questioning the soundness of PWGSC’s methodology, they also question whether PWGSC adheres to its own policy. Moreover, the availability of commercial parking and public transit and the practices of other employers in the vicinity are ignored. There is no recourse for employees to contest the determination of market rates.

Several PIPSC members at PWGSC have been hard at work trying to address the parking issue. They pursued the employer for the lack of consultation, the lack of transparency and validity in the determination of market rates, and refusing to seriously address the duty to accommodate employees with disabilities. These efforts were supported by letters from the PIPSC President and Vice-President. Nonetheless, the employer proceeded with the implementation of this ill-conceived policy.

The policy also discriminates against employees with permanent disabilities, contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act. Employees with permanent disabilities often do not have the opportunity to find alternative cheaper parking or to take the bus. Fortunately, the employer decided to postpone the revised Custodial Parking Policy for persons with disabilities until December 31, 2010, while it reviews its duty to accommodate in parking.

Some departments have now notified their employees of the impending policy. The Department of National Defence already faces 38 individual PIPSC grievances on the new policy. Members at Environment Canada, the Canada Nuclear Safety Commission, Health Canada and the National Research Council have also begun voicing their concerns.

National action is being taken. PIPSC will be filing policy grievances and an unfair labour practice complaint against the employer. The parking policy has been implemented without consultation, without discussion at the bargaining table, and at a time when federal employees have been subjected to minimum legislated wage increases under the Expenditure Restraint Act. There was no substantial opportunity to discuss and/or offset this significant financial hit to employees. Parking is a matter which can and should be the subject of collective bargaining in order to ensure consistency and general fairness. The employer’s actions contravene collective agreement provisions which require consultation with union representatives about contemplated changes in conditions of employment or working conditions.

Please contact your Regional Office if you have concerns over the implementation of the new parking policy in your department and how it affects you.

Contributor: Sarah Godwin
Employment Relations Officer