Good day, OPSEU 468 will be making changes to the email subscription service many of our members use. Currently, we use a service called FeedBlitz. You may not have known this because it is a fairly seamless process. The local publishes articles on the ...


Email subscription updates coming soon and more...

Email subscription updates coming soon


Good day,

OPSEU 468 will be making changes to the email subscription service many of our members use.  Currently, we use a service called FeedBlitz.  You may not have known this because it is a fairly seamless process.  The local publishes articles on the website and those who have subscribed get an email within 24 hrs.

468 will be migrating to a new service provided by MailChimp.  MailChimp has a few more features that FeedBlitz doesn’t have and the look and feel is more modern.  Those who have subscribed to get email updates will still receive updates.  But those email updates may look a bit different, hopefully more modern looking, and may be received from an updated email address.  If you subscribed and don’t notice emails, please check your spam or junk folder first.

Thank you for your patience during this transition!  If you have any questions, please contact 

Jim – Communications Officer until the end of March 🙂


OPSEU Article 30, WDHP and an Update


Dear Steve Orsini,

I will share that I am disappointed to not have heard back from you in any way to this point.  I had hoped that in sharing concerns that I believe are across the OPS at the worker level, which is more open to sharing with me than they are with you, would provide you with insight that should concern you as the leader of the OPS.

Your silence, even to the point of not reassuring myself or those who have read the public documents that I have shared, that you are now aware of the issues I have put forth and are following up on them is greatly disappointing.  It is hard not to feel that for all your promotion of the OPS of the Future and the desire you professed to have to hear from OPS members, is nothing more than lip service.

Well, I will not give up as it is important to me that concerns I know of, or are shared with me from various sources in the OPS must be shared, and the awareness of rights and entitlements as well as issues must be addressed even should you choose to remain silent.

So in an effort to share once more I will start with the concerns about the OPSEU Collective Agreement Article 30.

Article 30 – Employee Right to Representation

When you take the time to read this Article over it is not difficult to see that there is very clear direction as to how this article is to be applied and to understand that unlike past situations where the employer would try to put the onus on the employee to address concerns about representation.  Article 30 says:


30.1 Where a supervisor or other Employer representative intends to meet with an employee:

a)    for disciplinary purposes;

b)    to investigate matters which may result in disciplinary action;

c)    for a formal counselling session with regard to unsatisfactory performance or behaviour;

d)    for termination of employment;

e)    for matters related to the development, implementation and administration of an accommodation or return to work plan;

f)     to discuss attendance management issues under the Employer’s attendance management program;

g)    for layoff/surplus;

h)   any other provision in the collective agreement where the right to representation is referenced;

the employee shall have the right to be accompanied by and represented by a Union representative.

The Employer shall notify the employee of this right and advise the employee and the Union of the time and place for the meeting. If no union representative is reasonably available to meet at the time established, the Employer may set a meeting within the next twenty-four (24) hours taking into consideration, to the extent possible, the union’s availability.”

The article starts the process with an effort to be made by the employer to determine why they will meet with any employee(s) by having the employer determine the intent (“intends”) for the meeting. It is up to the employer with their partners in HR to determine if the intention meets any of the criteria of a) through to h).  If the intent is covered by one of those eight scenarios or qualifiers, then the employer is given more clear direction in the part that is at the end of that list.  It is no doubt made known to management (or should be) that if there is any doubt or question as to whether or not the qualifiers are being met, then erring on the side of caution will never be a bad thing to do.

Why?  Because this Article is as much to protect the employer and their investigation/disciplinary processes as it is to protect the employee’s rights.  A common result in law is that if the fundamental right to representation has been denied at any point, the employer will have a very difficult time ensuring that any proposed discipline will not be overturned because of this concern.  Jurisprudence is full of examples of situations where the discipline has been overturned and there is no chance to start over and get it right.  The very large majority of grievances will have this as the outcome.

So what is the next information regarding the process that the employer must follow?  The employer is the only one who is always aware of the intended reason for a meeting so when they have determined that even one of the qualifiers has been met, they must acknowledge that:

“the employee shall have the right to be accompanied by and represented by a Union representative.”

The key to this part of the acknowledgement is that “represented by” statement as far too often the employer has tried to deny members representation by stating that yes, you can have someone accompany you to a meeting for a process, but their role will be for support only.  The above acknowledgement makes it clear that if any meeting for any process what so ever that has met the criteria, the Union Representative will be “representing” the member and the employer will try to stop them from doing so at the risk of a grievance based on a violation of this article.  This will be addressed further in the next section of this letter.

The next part of the article now gives specific direction (orders) on how management has to comply with this article by stating that in order to meet the obligation regarding representation:

“The Employer shall notify the employee of this right and advise the employee and the Union of the time and place for the meeting. If no union representative is reasonably available to meet at the time established, the Employer may set a meeting within the next twenty-four (24) hours taking into consideration, to the extent possible, the union’s availability.”

The word “shall” in our collective agreement makes it clear that there is an obligation to do something which is described after the word shall.  Again, only the employer is aware of what they are doing and why and when and all the other details for whatever meeting they are setting up.  Therefore it makes perfect sense that it is the employer’s responsibility to make the arrangements and if necessary, a concession, in order to ensure that the right to representation is protected and respected.

It is the responsibility of the employer and not the employee to advise the union of any meeting that meets the requirements for ensuring representation.  In the past the employer would insist that the employee must contact the union to make arrangements.  Again, the employee often has no clue as to the nature of the meeting and therefore are not aware of the need or rationale for getting union representation.  This wording makes it clear that the onus is not on the employee and the employer can be in violation of this article by not informing the union.

WDHP (Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Policy)

So, with this information in hand and from personal experience I can share that in spite of this article being in the Collective Agreement for over 30 months now, situations have come up that clearly indicate that management does not have awareness of, nor understanding of, this important article.  And that is a problem compounded by the fact that many HR partners for management do not have a proper awareness of or understanding of this article either.

If they did, there would not have been any need to file several grievances on this article in the past four weeks because every effort would have been made to avoid creating situations where it became necessary to file the grievances (including erring on the side of caution as there is no penalty for being too careful).

That is not a disparaging remark about the staff who provide HR services.  It is an expression of the concern that there are an abundance of new (less than 3 years) HR services staff who have not had the time to be properly indoctrinated in the Collective Agreement and the various policies in the OPS before being thrown to the front lines to deal with issues.

At least ten years ago I mentioned to several HR employees, in all seriousness, that I was willing to file a grievance against the employer for understaffing the HR groups causing them to have workload and lack of training time issues which did/do impact the workplace for everyone.  They were scared stiff that I might actually do it.

There are several instances where the policies we have are built on direction from the HRTO and in those directions they clearly indicate that things should be timely in regard to the nature of the process and that the employer should ensure that adequate resources are available for the handling of the issues that fall under several code based concerns.  What I have shared in the last few paragraphs can be taken as my opinion that there are often times that both the resources are not there and if they are, they are not up to the standard to qualify as “adequate”.  That is a huge detriment to all members of the OPS.

Here is a very real and problematic example.

For years the WDHP Advisors were insisting that when there are situations where an employee will be asked questions and the responses to those questions might lead to disciplinary action, the employee can have a “support” person, who is only there to support and not advocate for the employee.  The section of the policy that they refer to is:

“Right to Representation

9.14.   Complainants, respondents and witnesses have the right to be accompanied by a support person and/or bargaining agent representative where applicable, during complaint resolution processes related to this policy. Employees must actively participate in the process; the support person or bargaining agent representative does not advocate on the employee’s behalf.”

It is ironic that they label the section Right to Representation and yet at the end they say that the bargaining agent representative does not advocate (represent) on the employee’s behalf.  This is the section of the policy used by the WDHP advisors to deny OPSEU members (and probably AMAPCEO and others) of their rights.

The simple truth is that no policy can supersede or over-ride a collective agreement right.  When you look again at Article 30 as quoted above, when you are being questioned and the answers you give might be used for disciplinary purposes then part “b)    to investigate matters which may result in disciplinary action;” takes precedence over the policy.

That is a fundamental of labour law that collective agreement rights cannot be changed by internal policies.  That is what the employer has tried to do with the statement made in item 9.14 from the Respectful Workplace Policy.

What else have they done which is patently unfair if they have tried to remove this right employees protected by a collective agreement have?  Well consider the following when dealing with internal processes:

In fairness, the employer should recognize that:

  • in a lot of such processes those who bring forward a concern can take their time and gather any evidence or items necessary to support the concern as well as line up witnesses if needed before starting a process or during it.
  • where needed an investigator has the time they need to review whatever is presented for the concern and have the opportunity to prepare for the phase where they discuss the concern with the employer and then discuss the concern with the impacted employee.
  • the employer has all the time they need to take to review material, gather additional information and get input as to how to deal with the concern.
  • Therefore in an organization such as the OPS, all of the facts above require that in a Respectful Workplace, anyone who is not yet proven to be guilty of any wrong-doing, (read the letter of suspension with pay) Fairness and Respect should dictate that the person who is being investigated will be treated equitably.  They should be provided with the information, allegations and concerns that will be presented to them in any meeting to discuss the matter in question, in advance.  And they should absolutely be provided with access to any material in the workplace that may be used to support the position they intend to present.  The way things are done now is shameful and grossly unfair in that people are bush-wacked with a meeting with the expectation that they will respond quickly and without the same equitable opportunity as those who participated in the process up to that point.
  • the employee will be represented by their bargaining agent representative and not be obliged or directed to act only as a support person.

You have to wonder what the true meaning of a Respectful Workplace can and should be.  In my mind it should include “equitable” treatment for all participants in a process and it should include making allowances for situations that are perceived or ought to be perceived, as being unfair.  The Preamble of the Collective Agreement covers this.

  1. (b) a procedure for the prompt and equitable handling of grievances and disputes.
  2. It is understood that the provisions of these Agreements apply equally to all employees and that the parties are committed to work together on joint initiatives that further support diversity in the workplace.

As we claim to have a workplace that is seeking to have an environment that is inclusive and fair and diverse as well as allowing for equal opportunity, no one should be disadvantaged in any way in any OPS process.  It would be a stark contradiction to the Respectful Workplace Policy and the spirit of that document if anyone is disadvantaged in any way as is the scenario indicated above.

That process is what employees who may be respondents in WDHP concerns and in regular workplace investigations have to unfairly endure.  It essentially screams that they are considered “guilty” and unfair treatment is to be expected.


An Update

These two pieces as well as some past issues shared were front and center recently in a matter that I am representing someone for.


In the next part that follows I am not disclosing any confidential or privileged information.  I will not speak to the nature of the concern being addressed and what is shared is done with the permission of the employee who has been impacted in this process.  I am merely exposing the unfair and unjust, disrespectful and haphazard application of the process.

In my first letter to you Steve Orsini I pointed out the concern regarding the wording of the letter of “Suspended with Pay” some members get.  I shared concerns over the connotation of the word “suspended” back on January 18th and I let you know that I believed that it can lead to unfortunate and harmful consequences.  It took only three weeks for my words to prove to be prophetic.

What is most disappointing in this situation is that you Steve Orsini, shared an email on Bell Let’s Talk Day with two links to helpful information regarding things to be aware of in regard to mental health.  One of the links had five tips to follow as things that have been identified to have a negative impact in regard to mental health issues/awareness.  In the very first one it said:

”Language Matters

Words can help, but they can also hurt. Before starting or joining a conversation, think about the words you use; they can make all the difference.”

I think that you sharing that link with those words in that context should be sufficient for you to stand by your commitment to improve the mental health and well-being of OPS members and strive to remove the reference to Suspension/Suspended.

An individual I am helping as their Representative was met by their manager at the entrance to their workplace early on a Friday morning and they were presented with a letter.  The letter was one that indicated, in big bold letters, that they were suspended with pay and they were being dismissed from the workplace immediately and their work access/ID badge were confiscated.  Within hours that individual was at the hospital being examined for a medical health concern.  The letter mentioned that they were going to be investigated, after the findings were in they would be questioned and that it could lead to discipline and dismissal.  It is not surprising that they then had an adverse health effect to this news.

Management did not follow the direction of Article 30 and advise the union or the employee of the “meeting” to hand over the letter, tell them they are being sent home and collect their badge.  Before any management or HR representative tries to say that there really was no meeting – I respectfully say that is only an excuse for not “Doing the Right Thing”.  The intent of the letter was to convey an investigation process had already started (how else could they justify the step they took in sending the employee home?) and that they were now bringing the employee into the process even if only to send them home for awhile.  That is clearly spelled out as was “investigation” and “could lead to discipline and dismissal”.  30 b) for sure.

A grievance was prepared and a discussion with the Director was started in both email and in person to see if the employer would accept accountability for denying the employee representation that morning (with a full explanation as above of Article 30) and advising them of the health impact on the employee.  What was shared by the Director was that the “investigation” had not started.  That was clearly an excuse as they had at that point enough information to warrant sending the employee home.  So the grievance was filed.

A request was made to the Director to follow the bullet points shared earlier on the unfairness of their process in order to try to attempt to mitigate another episode that might precipitate the employee needing medical attention once more.  The Director denied the request.

About a week after the employee was sent home without being granted article 30 rights, the employer sent the employee a letter letting them know of the time and date of the meeting to meet with the investigator.  As the meeting the started I shared with the employer that they once again violated Article 30 by not making any effort to:

“advise the employee and the Union of the time and place for the meeting.”

How is it that when a director and HR have the article clearly spelled out for them and their requirements emphasized that they can so cavalierly violate the same article once again?  I only heard excuses from the Director when the second grievance was submitted once it was confirmed that they could not produce any email or other evidence of any effort to meet their obligation to advise the union of the meeting.

Please understand that I am not nit-picking here.  Article 30 as I have explained is extremely important and to not take proper steps to ensure that it is not violated a second time is unforgivable.  In light of the second violation the union requested that the process be reviewed and that it continue with the employee being guaranteed that there would be no negative consequences to them as a result of any investigative efforts that followed the two violations.  Management declined to spare the employee a long drawn out process when it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that the article was breeched twice.

So Steve Orsini, in that first letter to you I also indicated that in so many cases the employer would never admit fault or wrong-doing and that that attitude and approach is detrimental to OPS employees.  This is clearly a case that emphasized the concerns I have shared with you to date and there is still more that I can share.

The employee, while not being aware of what the matter of concern was about was given direction not to tell anyone about it.  Not to say anything.  By taking such steps the employer is cutting-off an employee, at a very vulnerable time, from their support network.  The employer is exponentially increasing the employee’s stress and anxiety.  The net effect is to put the individual in emotional solitary confinement.  Is it any wonder that they had to seek medical attention?

In Conclusion

The situation would have been a whole lot better if the management had followed the clear direction of Article 30, even as a precaution.  I can see no possible negative impact by allowing someone who will get unwelcome and distressing news from having a representative with them.

Am I trying to promote change and modifications to current policies and procedures?  Of course!  Especially when those policies and procedures are inherently unfair and unreasonable.  I would hope that would be a goal that we can all share.

Am I trying to show that there are real issues with application of Article 30 in the workplace and the fact that management, even when support by the entire HR resource group, cannot get it right on their second effort?  Yes, because with it being a management responsibility to ensure it is followed correctly, the ultimate responsibility lies with you at the top Steve Orsini.  You ultimately make the decisions that impact training, staffing, and enforcement of the requirements of management in dealing with the Collective Agreement.

Again, I am encouraging everyone who knows of or has experienced issues similar to what I have touched on to share their stories and express their views.  Comment on what I shared (good or bad as I want the conversation to start and take off across the whole OPS) and please make every effort to protect your rights and entitlements and if you have any concerns regarding reprisal for doing so, I offer the following for you to share whenever you put forward a concern.

I am bringing forward these concerns as I believe that I have been negatively impacted and my rights have been violated.  I am doing this even though I fear that there may be reprisal for doing so.  Should there be any actions against me that I believe are a result of putting forward my concerns, I will avail myself of representation to have those situations addressed as well.

Disappointed not to have any reply, yet still respectfully,


Frank Wendling

OPS Employee

OPSEU member

Local President and MERC Co-Chair, MOHLTC


OPS of the Future: Grievances



Mr. Orsini, I am following up on my first email sent to you January 18, 2018 to provide some more of my concerns and points of view on what I perceive to be matters for your consideration as you help to guide the OPS into the future.

In that first message I tried to introduce you to areas of concerns and provide some examples to illustrate why I am sharing concerns on behalf of OPSEU members that I feel you are the person to guide any discussion and consideration for positive change.  As I shared in that letter, I believe in the vision you have stated you have and I believe that the tool to make it a reality is the Respectful Workplace Policy.  If that policy is allowed to cover all that I envision it can and should, the OPS will evolve in a positive way.

I am going to share the concerns I have in regard to the OPSEU grievance process as I feel the concept of respect in the workplace is potentially lacking in that process.  While I share, I hope that anyone who reads this keeps in mind the OPS Values as well.  I believe that there should never be any exceptions to according respect or applying the Values.  I am always disappointed when I or others can clearly demonstrate how those values are either ignored or completely discarded, yet it seems to matter not.  Those values and respect should be evident in every aspect of OPS activities and interactions and I expect that you will agree.

As I have shared as to my appreciation and respect for the Respectful Workplace Policy due to how it was thoughtfully written and put together, there are parts in the OPSEU Collective Agreement that are also written in a meaningful way as well as with a clear statement of commitment.


So, in regard to grievances and the way they are promoted in the Preamble and Article 22 of the OPSEU CA as a way to achieve resolution:


  1. The purpose of these Agreements between the Employer and the Union is to establish and maintain:
  • satisfactory working conditions and terms of employment for all employees who are subject to these Agreements;
  • a procedure for the prompt and equitable handling of grievances and disputes.
  1. It is understood that the provisions of these Agreements apply equally to all employees and that the parties are committed to work together on joint initiatives that further support diversity in the workplace.

The parties, therefore, agree as follows: “

“22.1         It is the intent of this Agreement to adjust as quickly as possible any complaints or differences between the parties arising from the interpretation, application, administration or alleged contravention of this Agreement, including any question as to whether a matter is arbitrable.

22.14.4     The parties agree that principles of full disclosure of issues in dispute as alleged by a grievance advanced by the Union on behalf of a member or members, or the Union itself, and full disclosure of facts relied upon by management in a decision that is subject to a grievance, are key elements in amicable and expeditious dispute resolution processes.”

(emphasis added by me)

In those passages you see the words prompt, equitable, equally, committed, agree, together, quickly, amicable and expeditious.  Those words are reflective of a respectful process and one that seems to be committed to exemplifying the Values of the OPS.

There is nothing wrong with the way this is written in respect to the grievance process, except that there should be acknowledgement in the CA that a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code is a violation of the Collective Agreement.  This glaring omission as I shared in the previous message has serious implications and has caused issues for many employees.

As indicated last week, a senior management member did not believe me when I shared that info and even after sharing the details from the Tribunal’s website, they would not acknowledge that connection as a fact.  That is very disturbing for an organization that wants to be moving into the future when the future we are moving to includes increased recognition of all rights and protections under the Code.

So in the current grievance process as we have experienced it, a fair number of concerns can or do have a Code based component.  If all of the statements shared above from the OPSEU Collective Agreement are to ring true, then this issue has to be corrected immediately.


With the current process of having a management representative act as a designee for grievances, if there is no recognition of the relationship of the Code to the CA, then we are putting employees in a position where their rights are potentially being denied and negative impacts of doing so can have harmful consequences.

I believe that it is shameful that many grievances I am aware of, are reported as “Denied” at the Formal Resolution Stage (FRS), when they really should not be.  More recently we made sure the designees have had information before them from the Tribunal’s website (provided by the union) in the form of their direction to employers as to how to deal with various code based concerns and situations, as related to the grievance(s) being heard.  Yet the designee will often make a conscious decision to “Deny” the grievance.

I ask now, if anyone acting as a designee is not aware of the direction from the Tribunal and the resources available to employers for handling Code based concerns in the workplace, should they really be making a decision on whether or not the Code has been violated such that a decision of “Denied” is rendered?

The Tribunal shares the following:

“Employers violate the Code when they:

  1. directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally infringe the Code
  2. constructively discriminate
  3. do not directly infringe the Code but rather authorize, condone, adopt or ratify behaviour that is contrary to the Code.”

Designees should not have to wonder, is denying a grievance without knowledge of the code going to lead to me being seen as “condoning” behavior, actions and decisions that may or do violate the Code?  They should be given training to help them understand if their decision is just, based on the circumstances.


At this time I would like to share with you a list of concerns and facts about the grievance process before anything is decided if a grievance should go to arbitration.

The employer controls the process

In matter of Health and Safety, Accommodation, there may be negative impacts to the griever that the employer’s actions seem to indicate that they just don’t care about.

Management can just ignore the truth and any justification as to why a grievance should be upheld.  (I am not saying that they always do, but it has happened)

Often very substantial information/documentation is submitted on behalf of a griever, yet the employer disrespects the efforts made on the union side and will not provide a single piece of rationale as to why the union position is unjustified or inadequate.

Management can deny a grievance, just because they can

Management does not provide a rationale as to why a grievance at the Formal Resolution Stage is denied.  In my opinion this alone is extremely disrespectful regardless of what understanding or reasoning will be offered for this omission.

Go ahead, send it to Arbitration, is pretty much expected as a unspoken follow-up to a FRS denial.

Deny, delay and demoralize

I feel justified in sharing those concerns/thoughts because I have experienced or witnessed most of them personally in the efforts I have made in representing OPSEU members.

The first few items are undeniable truths and do have an impact on the process and the griever based on how the employer wants to have the situation play out.  I say that because I have had several grievances (for different ministries) where different designees have confided in me that they wanted to find a resolution to a grievance they were participating in, yet management absolutely would not allow them to try to make it happen.  That is relevant to the middle items in the list above.


Let’s look at that type of scenario in light of what was shared earlier about a designee respecting a griever’s Human Rights and the concern about condoning, adopting or ratifying (willingly or not) behavior that violates the code.  In those instances where the designee did see the need to address Code based concerns, the management they were “supporting” in the role of designee pretty much forced them to violate the Code.

No designee should ever be put into that situation and the fact that I was made aware of it on five occasions demonstrates to me that it likely is not an isolated concern.  Designees should have autonomy and support in situations such as this as well as the ability to share at a higher level their concerns about following the direction that they are being given, without fear of reprisal.

I personally feel that an open and honest response to a grievance in such cases would be to allow a statement from the designee such as this:

“In regard to the grievance I officiated, I did see the merit in the presentation and information to support the griever’s concerns and from that, I made an honest effort to work with the management of the branch to try to come to some resolution.  It is clear that one is not possible at this time.  Therefore I share that the grievance is unresolved at this Formal Resolution Process and the griever can decide if they choose to present it to the GSB for mediation/arbitration.”

A statement such as that shows respect for the individual and those supporting them as well respecting the words as written in the Collective Agreement “to adjust as quickly as possible any complaints or differences between the parties arising from the interpretation, application, administration or alleged contravention of this Agreement, including any question as to whether a matter is arbitrable.”  That would be refreshing and one of the finest examples of a Respectful Workplace simply because it speaks to the truth and it recognizes that the griever has brought concerns forward that deserve the respect the process should guarantee.


Of course when a grievance is, in the opinion of management, one that should be denied, it would be equally respectful to all involved to share the rationale as to why that is the decision being made.  In addition to this being another respectful act, there is also the benefit of allowing all parties to learn from these processes to help avoid going through the same thing over and over when it might be clearly demonstrated as to why it is not worthwhile or  it is unnecessary.  That reason alone can have a significant cost savings for the administration budget of the OPS and as such it should be seriously considered.

The cost factor above can be expanded greatly if it can be demonstrated that there is a connection to previous concerns and that in keeping the results “hidden” behind a confidentiality clause, the employer has increased their liability by not sharing information that may have kept others from potential harm afterwards.

I personally believe that the best way to reduce liability concerns is to have an open and transparent process so that those whose actions would put the employer in a liability situation will clearly see the impact of those actions and responses.  Couple that with a commitment to accept accountability, this approach can serve as a strong message to deter/address future concerns.

A resolution process either:

has the potential to be the most disheartening and demoralizing event an employee can experience.  It could have a huge negative impact on the morale and dedication as well as the health and productivity of a griever.

Or it can be:

the most reassuring and uplifting experience.

Which is a better fit for the OPS of the Future?

What follows is again from the Tribunal as their information as to what should be included in any internal settlement for a Human Rights complaint.

“ii) Base settlements on human rights remedies that may be available:

Any remedy mutually agreed on by the parties should take into account the actual losses experienced by the claimant, remedies available under human rights legislation and the interests of all the parties in a fair and speedy resolution of the matter.

The principle behind human rights remedies is to put the claimant in the position they would have been in had they not been exposed to discrimination, as long as they have taken steps to minimize their losses (this is called “mitigation of damages”). A further goal of human rights remedies is to protect the public interest and make sure that measures are put in place to prevent further discrimination. If a claimant is successful in proving discrimination and entitlement to a remedy, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario could order the company, and any people personally named in the complaint, to do any of the following:

  • pay monetary compensation to the claimant for loss of earnings or job opportunities (if the claimant can prove that he or she acted to minimize losses)
  • pay interest to the claimant on the money awarded dating back to the date the Codewas violated
  • pay damages to the claimant for the mental anguish suffered because of the violation
  • pay general damages to the claimant for the infringement of the right and impact on his or her dignity and self-worth
  • put the claimant on a paid leave of absence until compliance with the Tribunal’s order has been achieved
  • promote or re-instate the claimant to the position he or she would have held except for the discrimination
  • change policies that have been found to be discriminatory or have a discriminatory impact
  • put in place training initiatives (this may include requirements to hire a consultant, involve the claimant in designing such training and/or make such sessions mandatory for employees)
  • set up a process for resolving internal human rights complaints. This could include a requirement to have complaints of workplace harassment and discrimination investigated or mediated by an external third party
  • develop and introduce effective anti-discrimination and harassment policies. An employer may be required to hire a consultant to help with this. Employers could also have to include compliance with such policies as an element of the performance appraisals for supervisors and managers
  • monitor of compliance with the terms of an order or settlement (for example, reporting to the Tribunal or a third party designated by the Tribunal) on an ongoing basis
  • make available the Tribunal’s decision, or a summary of it, in the workplace and bring it to the attention of employees.”

My experience with grievances in the Formal Resolution Stage is that pretty much none of the above actually happens.  There is a great reluctance on the part of the employer to actually address the concerns as described above.  The following, also from the Tribunal may shed some light on why.

“i) Practical reasons to resolve complaints early:

In the Commission’s experience, there are many cases that give rise to costly litigation because an employer was not willing to provide any form of redress to an employee who has most likely experienced discrimination in the workplace and is seeking modest compensation. Many employers have expressed the feeling that an employee’s requests for compensation are equivalent to “black-mail.” Also, employers often say that as a matter of “principle” they will not pay any amount of money to an employee based on a violation of human rights, because this would open the “floodgates” to a stream of human rights claims that have no merit.

While this is an understandable position, it is not normally in an employer’s interests to take this approach. In most cases, the costs of such posturing far exceed the benefits. If a human rights claim is resolved early on, there is usually a recognition by both sides that neither party knows whether or not the claim would ultimately be successful. Thus, a claimant may accept much less than he or she would otherwise be entitled to. The costs of defending against a claim all the way to the end of proceedings before a court or tribunal may be major if the employer uses lawyers.”

What is more important to the OPS of the Future?  Treating every situation as respectfully as possible for all aspects of the situation?  Or ignoring the advice of the Tribunal on how to address redress for concerns that are valid just because of “principle” that would be in total opposition to the Respectful Workplace culture?

I will state that I believe that the more we bring these concerns forward and share what the results are (where applicable) the likely result will be a positive effect because all OPS employees will see what the expectations are, what the results of violations can be and there will be opportunities to effectively either address inappropriate behavior or to deal with those who do not learn to accept the value of respecting Code based rights.  I believe that following such a course of action can and would reduce the amount of time and effort spent on dealing with Human Rights concerns as “doing the right thing” in regard to the Code will be positively reinforced and become an accepted standard.

I thank all who have read this far and I appreciate you doing so.  I will be preparing another post and letter to you Mr. Orsini where I again expand on concerns in the OPS where a more comprehensive acceptance of the meaning of “Respectful Workplace” can yield benefits and help you in your drive to take the OPS into the future.



Frank Wendling

President, OPSEU Local 468 Kingston


Open Letter to the Secretary of Cabinet, Steve Orsini – 2018


Open letter Jan 2018: Select the hyperlink to download the PDF

Subject:  The OPS of the Future

Secretary of Cabinet, Mr. Steve Orsini

Mr. Orsini, my name is Frank Wendling and I am an OPSEU OPS member in Kingston Ontario.  I work for the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  I am a local President, a MERC Co-Chair and I have been in the OPS officially for over 19 years.  In my various roles as an OPSEU member and representative, I have seen and experienced many things that have me believing that the OPS can do, and can be better.

Your announcement in 2017 about the OPS of the Future initiative and the information and events related to that process are of interest to me and in addition to reading some of the material, I did participate in the event that was held in Kingston in November.

Mr. Orsini, in the past you shared the following with all OPS employees.

“It is important to me to learn about our organization from your perspective and hear your ideas. I continue to be impressed by the strong commitment to public service, the high levels of employee engagement and the strong dedication to creating a positive workplace culture. At the same time, I have heard that more needs to be done to build a stronger, more diverse and inclusive public service. I am committed to working with you to do just that.“

I am writing this as an “open letter” as I believe that it is important that what I share be seen by as many OPS employees as possible and that others in the OPS have an opportunity to respond and be aware of how you respond to my message.  Such transparency and openness is important to a large organization such as ours.

I will, in this letter, attempt to instill an understanding for a need for a change in the OPS to support your vision.  A change that where those who are presented with concerns, will put any individual before them, first in the decision making process.  Then an effort can be made to find a way, a respectful way, to figure out how the resources and people of the OPS, within the framework of policy can help them.

I hope to make a modest effort to help you learn about my perspective in this letter.  What I want to have anyone who also reads my words to know, is that respect is all about how choices and decisions in the OPS can impact the lives of OPS employees as they interact in the workplace.  It is about how even the perception of the choices made can result in a negative impact that in a lot of cases we would be outraged if such situations involved a loved one or family member.

Mr. Orsini, I agree with a lot of what is being discussed regarding moving the OPS forward in a positive manner in relation to our changing times.  I see value for the organization, all OPS employees and the people of Ontario in bringing about positive change.  However, as things are from my experience, your vision can never be realized due to a few, but simple to correct existing concerns.

Partners in the Workplace

I have always promoted that I believe that bargaining agents are “partners” in the workplace and that is because we have common cause with the employer and other groups in that we all want there to be a safe and healthy workplace for everyone and a workplace that is respectful and responsive to needs and concerns.  It is in the interest of any bargaining agent to help improve the workplace as much as it is for the employer.

This is supported by the fact that in regard to Ontario Human Rights Code requirements in the workplace, bargaining agents are required to be responsible to their members and all other employees in promotion and protection of those rights, as is the employer.

I believe that a good working relationship between not only employees and managers can and should exist, but also a good working relationship with bargaining agent reps as well, particularly when they are asked to support employees who quite often are not comfortable or able to speak out for themselves.

The Respectful Workplace Policy

Recently the OPS leadership has taken the initiative to help transform the OPS in regard to how we treat each other and how we treat our clients.  That initiative also covers how we are treated as well.  The vehicle driving this change is the Respectful Workplace Policy.  As a concept and a directive as to what can and should happen in the OPS, it is great.  The problem as I see it, is that the need for a culture shift at the higher levels of our organization is the greatest obstacle to this policy being effective.

In my opinion, when I think of a respectful workplace, it includes understanding what impact my words and actions – at the time or in the future – will have on others.  Particularly on those whom I am interacting with.  Will the choices I make end up creating negative consequences for others that they should not be subject to?

Please take no offense as I try to explain why, in my opinion, this is important in regard to the push for the OPS of the Future.

In any organization, the leadership of the organization sets the path and the goals of the workplace.  In the Respectful Workplace Policy it is described through the Policy Statement as:

“4.2. The policy of the OPS is to take every reasonable step to:

  • cultivate and sustain a respectful, positive, inclusive and supportive work culture
  • promote awareness of rights and responsibilities
  • prevent, identify and eliminate workplace harassment and discrimination in a timely manner
  • improve and/or restore work environments and work relationships affected by incidents or allegations of workplace harassment or discrimination.”

And in the Purpose statement it shares:

“5.1. The purpose of this policy is to:

  • promote respectful and inclusive behaviours in support of the health, safety, human rights and dignity of individuals in OPS workplaces
  • establish principles for maintaining positive and productive workplaces and mandatory requirements for the prevention of workplace harassment and discrimination.”

These ideals/directions are very meaningful and important in helping to cultivate a culture of “respect”.  I appreciate the time and thought that went into crafting this document and the effort to capture an intent with an eye towards making the workplace better for everyone.

But I have to share with you the biggest barrier that has to be eliminated to help grow and promote this culture shift that we all want and would truly appreciated having.

That barrier is that we have an employer (the collective of all management of all levels) that have gone to great lengths to make every effort to avoid ever admitting to making mistakes or wrong-doing.  My experience of the last ten years or more in my multiple roles has put me in many situations to see first-hand how concerns that should be resolved and addressed in a timely manner are often prolonged to the detriment of employees only because the management involved will not admit to either being wrong, having acted inappropriately or have exercised authority in an improper manner.

Let me back-track for a moment.  I have brought up the Respectful Workplace Policy so my question is, can there ever be any belief in management as being respectful to employees when there is never any admission of fault, wrong-doing, inappropriate action, lack of action or just lack of consideration for basic interactions?

Respect of Others with Official Process Notices

Let’s look at the first of two very important and common processes in the OPS and the impact they have on employees.  In WDHP situations circumstances often arise where someone who is identified as a respondent will be removed from their work environment as a precaution in respect to the concerns of the individual who brought the issue forward.  I have seen several times now the standard letter provided to some respondents who have been sent home, as a precaution.  That letter pronounces in big bold letters that the individual is sent home on a “Suspension with Pay”.

Let me explain how incredibly insensitive that is, even though there is a disclaimer that this is not disciplinary.  “Suspension” is a prescribed step in the disciplinary process.  The use of the term, even though there is the disclaimer, sets a tone for the recipient of such a letter that they are already believed to be “guilty” of something.

Any disciplinary action can only take place after a proper investigative and review process.  As the recipients of these letters have often not been included in any proper investigation yet, it is incredibly insensitive and disrespectful to make such liberal use of a term that has a specific connotation attached to it.

Those who send these letters out and those who help prepare them generally understand the meaning and the process.  The recipients do not, and when reading that they are “suspended”, even with pay, it can and actually has had, a very debilitating impact on many of those individuals.

Please see if you can have this changed to “Administrative Leave” with pay as there is an Administrative process taking place and no decision on any guilt or innocence should have taken place yet.

This leads me to the second process I wish to highlight, with one example of where the concern as to what is respect has a very significant impact.

Respect for the Health and Well-Being of Others

I am and have been, involved in a lot of Medical Accommodation processes and some are relatively easy and others are more complicated.  A disturbing trend in the not easy ones, is that the lack of “timeliness” in the process is exceedingly evident and that can lead to issues for those who ask for and need to be accommodated.

If I were to tell you of a few situations that I personally have been a part of where the process has dragged on and on for months to the point of where the employee seeking accommodation has been taken to the end of their Short Term Sickness credit entitlements I hope you would ask “how that can be”?

Accommodations are an important and often challenging processes and they should be given proper time and resources to get it right.  One would hope that when the employer gets a note that the employee is being cleared to return to work, with accommodation needs specified, there should be a reasonable turn-around time before the accommodation is in place.  Remember the simple truth about accommodations is that they are most often to help reduce pain and provide a measure of comfort or relief from suffering.

Without going into a lot of specifics of individual’s situations, I will ask you how is it that the Return to Work process can sometimes take over four months to address a clear accommodation request?   Because of the lack of timeliness, the person who trusts the employer and the Disability Accommodation Policy to help them, can end up losing 25% of more than four month’s pay.

Often, employees I have represented, have been told that they were not using their sick time according to the provisions outlined, yet in the cases I have alluded to above, it is the employer misusing the STSP credit process for employees who are cleared to return to work – with proper accommodation.  The employer is abusing employee’s credits to cover for their own issues with accommodating those employees.  In doing so, they are in effect punishing employees financially, emotionally and through loss of credits that might be needed for proper usage in the future.

As mentioned, WDHP processes can have a respondent in a WDHP concern where they are put on a full paid leave and there is the possibility that they may have done something wrong.  How is that with accommodations, we have those who genuinely need help and take the step to ask the employer for it, yet they can be financially disadvantaged and sometimes left destitute.  How does that make sense in a Respectful Workplace and is that part of your vision for the OPS of the Future?

I now propose a simple fix that will address a lot of the systemic problems that make this a reality for many OPS employees.  When clearance to return to work is provided by a medical practitioner and there is direction as to what is required to support the employee upon their return, allow a two-week grace period where the employee stays on STSP.

If the accommodation is not in place by that time, accord them the same respect as a respondent in a WDHP concern and put them on an Administrative Leave with full pay until such a time as an accommodation (a necessary/legislated administrative process), even a temporary one, is in place.  Your concern for the treatment of those who need accommodation can surely be accorded the same respectful treatment that those whom may have done wrong receive?

This will accomplish several important and meaningful goals:

  • It will protect the livelihood of the employee as indicated in the DA Policy and the Ontario Human Rights Code.
  • It will promote “healing” and positive reinforcement for those in need of accommodation.
  • It will encourage the management and the HR support structure to stay focused and involved in getting this done as a priority as all Accommodations are essentially Health and Safety concerns and as such should take precedence over other work related activities.
  • If nothing else, it will help encourage the management of these employees to make an effort to work out temporary accommodation arrangements (again as proposed in the DA Policy and the Code) to help get the employee back at work and being productive in a way that respects them and their dignity.
  • It will help avoid grievances, WDHP complaints and Human Rights applications being filed and as such there are significant cost savings to be had by this approach.
  • It will show that a Respectful Workplace is possible as described in the Policy Statement and the Purpose sections of the policy as quoted above.
  • It will encourage others that are reluctant to ask for help, to self-identify and share their need of accommodation to get help. Employees who are properly accommodated are often more likely to have their attendance improve which will help more than any new attendance management policy can.
  • The reported “Sick time” for the OPS will adjust accordingly allowing the employer to better understand what is happening in OPS attendance and wellness, as well as eliminating the need to pay employees for work not being done. It is good stewardship and proper use of the public purse and should be given serious consideration.

All of those reasons would seem to be demonstrative of a Win – Win situation and the right thing to do.  And as we are reminded in regular emails and published information on Topical, OPS News from OPS leadership, we should all “Do the Right Thing”.  I am presenting an opportunity for the leadership of the OPS as led by you Steve Orsini, to lead by example and show all of the OPS that Respect in all forms matters.  This would greatly support all other efforts to achieve your vision of the OPS of the Future.

How can that happen?

Help and Guidance from the Experts

As I have shared, the two policies mentioned so far are based on the requirements of the Ontario Human Rights legislation.  The Social Justice website which covers the Human Rights segment of their responsibilities has a wealth of information/direction for employers as to how to do things right based on the experience and knowledge of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.  There can and should be no doubt that those who are part of that organization and their supports are the de facto experts in how to meet the requirements of the Code.  And because of that fact, I rely heavily on what materials they provide as I try to support and protect the rights of OPS members in relation to Accommodations and Discrimination and Harassment concerns.

Why would I rely on them this way?  This piece of information they provide does say it all quite clearly.

“Section 30 of the Ontario Human Rights Code authorizes the OHRC to prepare, approve and publish human rights policies to provide guidance on interpreting provisions of the Code.  The OHRC’s policies and A policy primer: Guide to developing human rights policies and procedures guidelines set standards for how individuals, employers, service providers and policy-makers should act to ensure compliance with the Code.  They are important because they represent the OHRC’s interpretation of the Code at the time of publication.[24]  Also, they advance a progressive understanding of the rights set out in the Code.”

(emphasis added by me)

As you can see, the Tribunal themselves are identifying that they know they are the source for accurate information as to how they will handle concerns related to the Code as they are presented to them.  Yet in almost every instance where I show the concerns of individuals are supported and substantiated by the direction provided by the Tribunal, local management and members of the HR community summarily discount the Tribunal’s directions.

To make matters worse, there is a systemic process of denial that a violation of the Code is indeed a violation of any collective agreement.  The Documentation provided by the Tribunal substantiates that it is a violation with a reference to a Supreme Court of Canada decision where it was clearly stated that a violation of the Code is a violation of any collective agreement.

“The rights and obligations of the Code are incorporated into collective agreements, and alleged violations of the Code are alleged violations of a collective agreement. The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed that grievance arbitrators in Ontario must implement and enforce the substantive rights and obligations of the Code and other employment-related statutes as if they were part of the collective agreement.[79]”

(emphasis added by me)

That OPS management denies this is true, is a clear indication of an employer that will fight to the bitter end to deny any sort of wrong-doing.  This type of total disrespect for the employees, their rights, the Code and the Supreme Court should not exist in your vision of the OPS of the future.

As an example of the systemic disrespect for employees rights I can tell you that the Tribunal indicates that any internal policy to do with Code based concerns (as our Respectful Workplace/WDHP is an example of) has to contain a reference where the employer representative dealing with such issues advises employees that taking their matter through the internal process in no way is abdicating their right to file an application with the HRTO.

This direction in their documentation is clear and hard to misinterpret.  Yet no such reference exists in any documentation related to the OPS policy, nor have I ever heard a WDHP Advisor or any manager share this right with an employee.  Such an absence of an important piece of information is another example of a disrespectful act and very questionable omission.

I was recently told by a senior management official that I am taking jurisprudence out of context when I use the HRTO documentation references.  That I am not educated and should seek guidance elsewhere before taking action based on what I have read and I decide to share.  The individual who shared that opinion was not aware of the Tribunal website and the guidance it offers, they were not aware of the requirements of senior management in relation to the Code as laid out in the referenced information and they ignored the fact that what I was sharing had little to do with jurisprudence and it was strictly HRTO provided information pieces, again from the actual de facto experts on Human Rights.

This shows the lack of training, education, dedication to their responsibilities and the lack of adequate support from the Human Resources group (forgive me for saying this but a majority of HR related resource persons I have dealt with have rarely had any  idea that very important and relevant information on dealing with Code based concerns even exists).

Sharing that is not an indication of a lack of respect for management or HR professionals, but rather an observation that those whose job is to deal with policy concerns based on Human Rights Legislation, have nowhere near the experience and familiarity that I and other bargaining agent representatives have obtained.  We as volunteers who choose to dedicate the time to learn and understand in order to properly assist those who seek our help.  Yet because the employer controls the processes, they can summarily dismiss out of hand what we share. They dismiss it rather than research, discuss and respectfully acknowledge what is presented make an honest effort to verify it and then act accordingly.  Is this the type of interaction you wish to carry over into the OPS of the future?

The workplace can improve dramatically when the efforts to help others are respected and if proven to be following the direction of the Tribunal, those efforts should be accepted and not hindered.

Just a quick fact.  On the HRTO information pages about Internal Processes to handle Code based concerns – it strongly recommends that internal processes should endeavor to ensure a complainant of substantiated allegations is “made whole”  and it goes on to indicate that any remedy available through an application to the Tribunal, including monetary awards for damages, should be considered and where warranted, applied.

If you are asking someone to trust an internal process, why should they give up any right to compensation that might be available elsewhere?  The accountability for the concern is still the same regardless of where a concern is dealt with and therefore the resolution, where ever it is arrived at, should be equitable as well.

Not allowing for this in it’s entirety at all in our WDHP policy, is extremely disrespectful, disappointing and violates just about every OPS value you can name.

In Conclusion

I will let you and everyone else in on a little secret.  Even with the information shared by the Tribunal and echoed in OPS policy, these are expressions of the minimum requirements for situations.  There is no legislation that says other more effective or reasonable efforts cannot be made to help someone who is part of the OPS family.  I honestly believe there is far greater value in making an extra effort to help someone than to only do what you feel you must.

I am hoping that what I have shared here will inspire those who have read this to respond however they see fit.  I hope to see comments, hear of more letters being sent to you Mr. Orsini on the topics I have touched on (and possibly some I have yet to bring forward) and who knows, maybe someone will start a debate about this on Inside OPS.  I honestly believe that what I have seen and experienced is happening across the province.  I hear about this in meetings all year round.

If by chance this letter sparks a desire to open up opportunities for further discussion or debate, I encourage all who may have similar concerns or stories to participate.  I would be happy to participate and help engage all OPS members in in conversations that do delve into the side of the OPS that I feel was not addressed in the official OPS of the Future discussions.  I am sure that many others would also line up to be heard as well.


Frank Wendling

OPS Employee

OPSEU member

Local President and MERC Co-Chair, MOHLTC


General Membership Meeting – Feb 6, 2018


Tuesday, February 6th 5:15 pm
At MCB Cafeteria

Tentative Agenda:

  • Treasurer’s Audit Report (TARs)
  • Annual Budget (review and adoption)
  • Local Elections
    • Stewards
    • President
    • Vice-President
    • Treasurer
    • Secretary
    • Communications Officer
    • Trustees (2)
    • Joint Health and Safety Committees (various)
    • LERCs (various)
  • Elections to OPSEU Convention (Apr 19-21)
  • Any new business as it arises

Nominations may be emailed in advance to our current Secretary –


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