The Provincial Friendship Centre had a contract with Health Canada, a division of the federal government, to provide a childhood education program to First Nations children in its area. The contract was for a three-year term, running from July 1996

The Provincial Friendship Centre had a contract with Health Canada, a division of the federal government, to provide a childhood education program to First Nations children in its area. The contract was for a three-year term, running from July 1996 to March 1999. When the contract expired in March, it was not renewed and the staff associated with the program were laid off in April. The contract was offered to other providers via a tendering process, and the First Nations Family Centre was the successful bidder. The First Nations Family Centre began offering the program in September 1999.

Bonnie Patrick worked at the Provincial Friendship Centre during the time the centre had the contract with Health Canada. She worked as a child care worker and as the executive director of the program and was employed as a child care worker at the time the program ended. She told the board that the program was designed to start First Nations children in the formal education process through the use of Aboriginal cultural resources. Health Canada provided the funding for the program, and the centre administered the funding and kept financial records. Together, the two agencies hired and fired program staff. The program also had a volunteer parent advisory committee. There were six paid staff associated with the program: the director, a child care worker, a nutrition worker, two teachers, and a bus driver. The program budget also had an allocation for training the parents of the children enrolled in the program.

Patrick described the work of the program staff as including child care, daily instructional activities, cooking daily snacks for the children, and cleaning the rooms in a local school building where the program was held. The program also included parent social activities and designated “cultural days.”

Patrick told the board that providers of programs such as this one have some flexibility in designing the program content, subject to Health Canada guidelines. Delivery of the program was overseen by a Health Canada consultant, Marnie Salmon, who had a role in hiring and fi ring staff and who also acted as a liaison with the parent advisory committee. Another childhood education program, which operated under the same Health Canada guidelines and was funded by Health Canada, was offered in another part of the city by the Community Co-Operative, which also leased space in a school building for the program. 

Patrick said that the program staff first discussed unionization after the centre’s annual meeting in the fall of 1998. She also said that around that time she had told Salmon of the staff’s desire to unionize. Patrick said that the centre was aware of the organizing campaign prior to the application for certification being filed, which took place in April 1999.

Patrick told the board that in December 1998 Salmon called a meeting that included herself, the program director, and three members of the parent advisory committee. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the renewal of the funding for the program. Salmon described how the renewal application package should be completed, advised the others at the meeting that the program was “not in danger,” and described the renewal as “routine.” However, Patrick said, she learned in March 1999 that the funding would not be renewed and that the program would close at the end of the month. She said that the program’s employees met with Salmon, who assured them that they would not lose their jobs and that the only change would be in the agency delivering the program. Salmon also said that the current funding would be extended until June. In fact, Patrick said, the program funding ended at the end of March, and on April 9, the centre laid off all the program employees, including Patrick. The layoff notices gave no reason for the layoffs.

On June 17, according to Patrick, Health Canada held a meeting for any agencies interested in bidding for the program contract. Applications were distributed, along with an explanation of how the contract would be awarded. The contract was eventually awarded to the First Nations Family Centre. Patrick said that she was not contacted by Health Canada or the Family Centre with respect to employment in the program.

Emmett Logan is the union staff representative assigned to the bargaining unit at the Provincial Friendship Centre. He told the board that he was given a letter dated April 9, 1999, signed by the provincial Health Canada program manager and addressed to the Friendship Centre executive director. The letter stated that the program contract was not being renewed because of concerns about poor financial accountability, high staff turnover, and lack of support for the parent advisory committee. The letter also stated that the Friendship Centre had not demonstrated the ability to effectively and efficiently manage and deliver the program, and that Health Canada had hoped to extend the agreement until the end of June, which was the end of the school term. However, the letter continued, on March 30 Health Canada had requested a meeting with the Friendship Centre to discuss the possibility of renewal and the centre had declined such a meeting. The centre had instead requested a written list of reasons for non-renewal and asked that the non-renewal be reconsidered. The letter concluded, “Please note that the decision remains Changes to the Union or the Employer as stated and no further review will be conducted . . . and further, after recent events, we no longer have confidence that this program can operate appropriately . . . and there will not be an extension.”

Logan told the board that he interpreted the reference to “recent events” as meaning the application for certification. The board was also told that on March 31 Health Canada terminated the contract for the Community Co-Operative childhood education program, although no reason was given. 

Elsa Quennell is the executive director of the First Nations Family Centre. The centre is a nonprofit corporation established in 1996 and operated by a community based board of directors. Like the Friendship Centre, it works in association with various government agencies to deliver a variety of programs to its community. 

Quennell stated that the Family Centre received a letter dated January 13, 1999, that invited it to an informational meeting on January 21. The meeting was announced as a solicitation for delivery of a childhood education program previously offered by the Friendship Centre. The letter indicated that the program’s current funding would end on March 31. Quennell told the board that she believed that a similar letter went to five other organizations. On January 27, the Family Centre submitted a proposal to Health Canada indicating its interest in delivering the program. On February 12, Health Canada notified the Family Centre by letter that it would be awarded funding for the program effective April 1. The draft contract for the program was sent to the Family Centre for signing on March 26.

Quennell said that the Family Centre placed a newspaper advertisement for seven program staff. She confi rmed to the board that the Family Centre ran the program from the same school building that the Friendship Centre had used, but it had negotiated a different lease for the space with the same landlord (the regional school board). The Family Centre also used a different name for the program than the Friendship Centre had used.

On June 2, Quennell said, the Family Centre and six other agencies received a notice from Health Canada about an information meeting to be held on June 17. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss finding a new provider for another childhood education program to be offered in the area. Unlike the notice in January, this notice did not identify the former provider of the program, but the application form carried the name that the Friendship Centre had used for its childhood education program. The application stated that the program would be offered starting August 15. On June 27, the Family Centre submitted a proposal for the program to Health Canada and explained in its proposal how it would integrate this program into the childhood education program it was already offering. On August 5, 1999, Health Canada awarded the program to the Family Centre and, rather than create a separate second contract, amended the contract for the existing program by doubling the amount of funding.

Because of the increased funding and increased program capacity, Quennell told the board, the Family Centre decided to create four additional staff positions and add to the hours of an existing part-time clerical position. The Family Centre again advertised for staff in the local newspaper.

It received at least one application, for a teaching position, from a former employee of the Friendship Centre program. The Family Centre also decided that it would need more space to offer the program; however, because of the short notice it had received from Health Canada, it arranged with the school board to take over the space in the school building that was used by the Community Co-Operative program. The Family Centre now maintains its administrative offices, a kitchen, and parent training facilities at this school, and delivers the two childhood education programs in the space at the other school formerly used by the Friendship Centre.

Quennell was asked to explain the differences between the Friendship Centre program and the Family Centre program. She said that the Friendship Centre program had more of a spiritual and language component, while the Family Centre program emphasized culture and training. She also stated that the Family Centre has not had any contact with the Friendship Centre about the program. At the time the hearing was held, the Family Centre had issued layoff notices to its childhood education program staff, pending Health Canada’s decision on the renewal of funding for the two programs. Tina Tremblay, the provincial Health Canada program manager, told the board that the childhood education program is a national program, with 16 such programs offered throughout the province. The Friendship Centre was one of the fi rst organizations to deliver the program when it was first offered. Tremblay told the board that in December 1998 the

Friendship Centre was invited to a meeting with Health Canada to discuss the funding-renewal process for the program. She said that the Friendship Centre submitted a renewal proposal, which, along with the other proposals, was reviewed by a panel of program consultants and experts in early childhood learning. The panel decided not to renew the Friendship Centre’s contract. Because Health Canada’s fiscal year end did not coincide with the end of the school year, Tremblay said, Health Canada was prepared to extend the Friendship Centre’s funding until June 30 to minimize the disruption to the students. However, she added, the Friendship Centre opted not to meet to discuss the extension.

Tremblay described to the board the concerns that Health Canada had about the Friendship Centre’s delivery of the program, as outlined in her April 9 letter. She insisted that Health Canada had had no knowledge of the union organizing campaign when it was considering the renewal of the Friendship Centre’s contract, and that it had not learned about the campaign until sometime between March 26 and April 9. She said that the reference to “recent events” in her letter was to the “disturbing recriminations” that the Friendship Centre staff, the centre’s management, and the parents involved in the program were leveling against each other. These “recriminations” included allegations of intimidation, stalking, and tire slashing, and they were so stressful that Marnie Salmon, the program consultant, had to take time off. Tremblay said that, after Salmon’s departure, she assumed personal responsibility for the program.

Tremblay told the board that the Friendship Centre director at the time the program ended cancelled the lease of the school premises where the program had operated and transferred control of the program’s assets to Health Canada. These actions were in keeping with the terms of the program contract.

Under questioning, Tremblay revealed that the second childhood education program, operated by the Community Co-Operative, had actually been subcontracted by that organization to another agency. It was suggested to Tremblay that the Community Co-Operative’s program contract was not renewed because the employees of that agency were unionized. Tremblay denied this suggestion.

It was then suggested to Tremblay that a program contract awarded to an agency in another community had not been renewed because there was an organizing drive in progress to unionize that agency’s employees. Tremblay denied any knowledge of this situation. The Employer’s Position The employer argues that there is no evidence of a sale, transfer, or disposition of a business in whole or in part, which must be proven for successor ship to occur. The employer also states that a contract to deliver a program is not a business as defined in the labour relations legislation and that once a program contract expires, the agency delivering the program loses its rights to control or deliver the program. The employer points out that the Family Centre had no contact with the Friendship Centre about the program, had delivered the program under a different name than the Friendship Centre had, and did not acquire any of the assets that the Friendship Centre had used for the program when it had the contract.

The employer also argues that the Family Centre is operating at least some of the functions associated with the program, such as administration, from facilities that the Friendship Centre did not use, and that no one who was employed by the Friendship Centre program is working at the Family Centre program. There was also a hiatus of several months between the end of the Friendship Centre contract and the start of the Family Centre contract.

The Union’s Position

The union argues that there are several connections between the Friendship Centre program and the Family Centre program. The Family Centre received several assets from the Friendship Centre, including the program guidelines and the equipment in the school space where the program had been delivered. The program name used by the Friendship Centre appeared in the Health Canada application for funding that the Family Centre submitted, and the program is being delivered in the same place.

A Corporation is a legal form of business that is separate from its owner. In other words, a corporation is a business or organization formed by a group of people, and its right and liabilities separate from those of the individuals involved. It may...

This problem has been solved!

Do you need an answer to a question different from the above? Ask your question!
Related Book For  answer-question
Question Details
Chapter # 14
Section: Exercise Questions
Problem: 21
Posted Date: May 27, 2018 04:07:19