Canada Employment and Immigration Union -
November 26, 2010

So it’s come to this?

When the President of CEIU’s St. John’s local visited the five members working at the office in Placentia, Newfoundland, he found a small story that sends a big message. Who would have thought that a battle over a box of tissues would have spoken so plainly about the service orientation of Service Canada?

Local President Brent English met with the Placentia office members and together they covered the usual union topics before a member raised the topic of tissues. She had tried to order a few boxes of tissues but the department had turned down the request. “At first, I thought it was odd for a member to expect the department to provide staff with Kleenex,” said English, “but she went on to explain that they wanted it for the elderly, retired clients that they serve.” Apparently some of these clients become upset and tearful as they try to navigate the rules surrounding their benefits, and the staff like to offer them a tissue.

In the same order that staff had asked for tissues, they had requested four cans of Lysol. They were sent four cases instead. They attempted to send back the excess Lysol and renewed their request for tissues. No luck. They had enough Lysol for years and no tissues for the next day.

Rather than push back with the department on the issue, English just bought a carton of tissues for the office, saying, “If the department isn’t willing to make this gesture for elderly clients, the union is. But this whole episode says something about Service Canada’s outlook on serving the public.”


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