Negotiations stall between Iqaluit Housing Authority, union

Previous contract expired more than 2 years ago; 23 workers affected

Talks have stalled between the Iqaluit Housing Authority, shown here, and the Nunavut Employees Union. Unionized employees of the authority are working under a collective agreement that expired two years ago. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Meral Jamal

A mediator is being brought in after contract negotiations between the Nunavut Employees Union and Iqaluit Housing Authority broke down earlier this month.

Talks stalled Aug. 18, according to Public Service Alliance of Canada north regional executive vice-president Lorraine Rousseau. The Nunavut Employees Union, which is a member of PSAC, represents the Iqaluit Housing Authority’s unionized members.

The housing authority’s collective agreement with the union expired June 30, 2020. It covers 23 workers.

The Iqaluit Housing Authority is part of the Nunavut Housing Corp. It is responsible for providing affordable housing and housing programs in the city of Iqaluit.

Rousseau said the housing authority wants the union to give up a number of benefits included in the previous collective agreement, including sick leave and vacation for casual employees, and time off for union business.

The union also does not like the authority’s proposal to implement an automatic rent deduction from pay cheques of employees who live in homes rented from the housing authority.

Rousseau said changes like these, if implemented, would greatly impact the livelihoods of employees, especially given the high rate of inflation being seen across the country. Canada’s inflation rate between Aug. 29, 2021 and Aug. 29 this year is 7.5 per cent, according to the Bank of Canada.

“Our expectation is for [the housing authority] to revise its proposals,” she said.

“These workers are in the community returning the economic benefit to the community they’re living in. Are they valued so little that none of the benefits are [provided] and [the IHA] can’t come to the table?”

Rousseau said the union is awaiting a mediator to be appointed through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

If both parties don’t reach a tentative agreement through mediation, she said union leaders will consider a strike vote, to gauge support for such a measure among its membership.

Kendra King, assistant manager for the Iqaluit Housing Authority, did not provide comment.


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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Maq-Pat on

    Auto-payments are just for everyone’s convenience. The GN has a separate system (FAM 870) for wage garnishment which will pluck amounts they deem owing right off of your paycheque (without even the need to even tell you in advance).

    • Posted by What’s wrong with rent deduction on

      Please can you enlighten me. Is there anything wrong with rent deduction from payroll? I cannot understand this, unless for employees concerned paying rent is the last thing on their minds. If you have a job and a roof over your head (supplied by the employer) then you should pay the rent.

      • Posted by Umingmak on

        It sounds like they simply want to get away with not paying rent.

      • Posted by housing member on

        Taking rent directly off of an employees paycheque for being in a housing unit is unattractive to us because of the underlying stipulations. this means an employee of housing, after waiting 8 years for a unit and finally getting it. their unit becomes a “Staff housing unit” and if they leave housing they will be evicted as if it was a subsidized housing unit. These are 2 separate things that we want to keep separate. While NHC would like fire the staff members and then evict them from a public housing unit because it then becomes a staff housing unit.

        • Posted by Maq-Pat on

          Qujannamiik for clarifying! That is a very different problem then we had thought.

          Is this problem unique to IHA? Presumably there are GN employees who are also in social housing, I’ve never heard of their units being magically converted into staff housing.

          More broadly why do you guys have your own collective agreement? There is strength in numbers.

    • Posted by John W Paul Murphy on

      Just to clarify. A garnishment is a court order, The GN doesn’t have to notify you, but they must act on it.. The employee will have received it and be aware of it.

      • Posted by Maq-Pat on

        Fair point on the technical definition of “garnish”. The term used by the GN to accomplish the same thing while avoiding the courts is “Set-Offs”

        Reviewing the directive in more detail, there is a requirement (section 3.4) to inform the employee when wages are taken to pay a debt. I have seen that notification step missed. More than that, employees/unions should demand some way to dispute the debt before it is taken directly off of your paycheck.

  2. Posted by John K on

    We have clinics and family wellness centers closing due to staffing issues and IHA wants to REMOVE incentives?!

    This tell me all I need to know about the priorities of the higher ups at IHA. Either up here padding their resumes or aiming for a higher position.

    I guess they didn’t get the memo about all the help wanted signs and sign on bonuses in the south.

    • Posted by iThink on

      Hierarchical systems are outdated and largely a failure, they are too conservative to adapt and address the kinds of disruptions we are seeing in our institutions today.

      • Posted by iThink on

        I should revise this a little, historically they have been successful in a lot of specific ways, though even there they have delivered a lot of needless hardship and pain. Today, in our increasingly complex society we know the ‘top down’ model is not the best or most effective. In fact the more you look at it, the more it’s inadequacies really stand out.

  3. Posted by Learned His Lesson? on

    Automatic rent reduction is just such a basic thing. The GN does it, the feds do it, pretty much any employer in that situation does it. The rent is owed, why would they not just deduct it from the paycheques? The employees don’t want to pay rent?
    The radio segment on this also mentioned the union was looking to increase acting pay and the housing allowance, and that IHA’s offer didn’t reflect inflation. Where was Rochon on these issues when NEU was negotiating with the GN?

    • Posted by Maq-Pat on

      Why complain about acting?

      GN Acting Pay: under two months 10% pay increase, two months or over 15%.

      GNWT “Responsibility Allowance”: 5 days or less 10%, over 5 days 12%.

      YG Acting Pay: 5%-10%

  4. Posted by Name Withheld on

    For the number of PH in Iqaluit
    ,you think the LHO would have more indeterminate staff in Maintenance Department?

    Garnishing rent is the way to go in order to get the rent paid, everyone does it…?

    Not sure if the casuals received vacation pay in a lump sum annually, but I would understand they received the 6% bi-weekly with their payroll.

    It’s only fair to increase their wage considering they likely do more than the actual indeterminate crew when it comes to attending a work order.

  5. Posted by Inuk guy on

    The GN only has so many dollars to go around. If GN gave NHC more $$$$$$$$ for local housing, more could be given to IHA, which could then give to employees!!! But there is no money to give! Unions don’t care if the increases will bankrupt the employer.

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