Message from the AJC President

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dear AJC members,

As we navigate these unique and evolving challenges, I want to remind you that the AJC is here for you and will continue to advocate for your mental well-being and personal health and safety.  We have been continuing to address questions on working conditions including from members working excessive hours, members working less than normal hours, questions about schedules, timekeeping and leave under s. 699.  I am happy to report that the issues you are contacting us about generally relate to a lack of clarity in the employer’s communications and are usually quickly resolved. 

We have also heard from some members at DoJ that they have been told by their managers that the 1,400 billables target will be put on ice for this fiscal year. We are attempting to confirm whether or not this is a decision that applies nationally, so please stay tuned to our communiques!

We are also working with departments on the issue of your performance pay and we understand that the departments are continuing to conduct performance interviews with you virtually and to process payments in accordance with new deadline in the current collective agreement (120 days after fiscal year end).  We will advise you if delays are anticipated.

Finally, some members have expressed anxiety about job security given that an upcoming recession is a virtual certainty and the staggering amounts of fiscal stimulus being dispensed. 

I want to reassure you that I am in contact with officials at Treasury Board several times per week and that layoffs are not on anyone’s radar.  We are all going to get through this crisis together.  And while no one knows what the long term future will hold, the AJC will continue to foster a solid working relationship with departments and TBS so that we can be heard if, at some distant future, the conversation changes.

As I wrote in our last newsletter, this crisis has put into focus the great importance of solidarity and collective cooperation.

I would like to share part of one message in particular, that I received from AJC member, Belinda (she’s given me permission to share her message with you all):

“As it’s year-end review time, I’ve been thinking about how lucky I am to have a job which is secure and well-paid, this being especially highlighted as I see so many people losing their jobs during this pandemic.

I was thinking I’d like to forego on my bonus this year (…) There may be other counsel out there who feel the same way as me. Could the AJC play a role in disseminating this idea across Canada?” 

I am profoundly touched by this message and others like it, that reaffirm my conviction that the AJC membership is both kind and committed to community service.

I’ve learned that it costs an average family of four in Ottawa $880 a month for groceries and so that has been my target amount for my private donation to the local foodbank.  I also have contributed to a worthwhile program that provides short-term internships to law students who suddenly find themselves in a precarious position with no income and a lot of student debt:

There are no doubt many other wonderful ways we can share our good fortune with others. While the AJC does not have the resources to coordinate a cross country charitable campaign at this time, I want to share ideas like Belinda’s and encourage all our members to give to the cause of your choice, individually or as a coordinated effort with your office colleagues. Now, more than ever, we must all lend a hand in spreading hope and gratitude.  We hope you will share the causes that are important to you with your regional GC reps, who may be able to help direct or coordinate a group donation on behalf of the employees in your section.

I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe during this global crisis and remember that the AJC continues to be here for you.  I look forward to reconnecting with you virtually at the AGM on April 21st, 2020.   Please remember to pre-register.  The registration details will follow as soon as possible now that we secured a new electronic platform to host the AGM, in compliance with prescribed public health guidelines and direction.   

In solidarity -

Your AJC President,

Ursula Hendel