Home Equity Assistance

100% Home Equity Assistance in CFIRP

from the Canadian Forces Grievance Board Journal”Perspectives” May 2010

with 12 comments

Home equity Allowance  http://mgerc-ceegm.gc.ca/documents/perspectives-201105-eng.pdf

“In the last year, the Board has reviewed four grievances from Canadian Forces (CF) members who had suffered very significant financial losses when they were posted and sold their residences for much less than they had paid to acquire them. The grievors had all applied for relief under the Home Equity Allowance (HEA) program. In the three cases completed to date, the Board was critical of the program but, as explained further below, could only recommend relief in one case which, according to the Board, met the eligibility criteria for HEA in a “depressed market.” The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), as Final Authority (FA), recognized the damage done to
the grievors but had to acknowledge that his authority in providing redress was limited by the policy.

The number of grievances may seem insignificant, but three factors combine to make HEA worthy of examination and comment. The first is the severity of the losses suffered by the grievors; the second is the inability of the CF to provide relief; and the third is the prospect of further similar grievances due to the current trends in the real estate market.HEA is part of an overall relocation policy intended to move CF members efficiently and with minimum disruption but at a reasonable cost to the public. This allowance has been in place for well over ten years, although its governing parameters and process changed significantly with the introduction of the CF Integrated Relocation Program (CFIRP). The present HEA program provides compensation to a CF member who suffers a loss on the sale of a residence. In most cases,
the maximum compensation is $15,000, unless the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) makes a determination that the sale occurred in a “depressed market” – a
designation for a “community” in which the housing market has dropped more than 20% since purchase.

Where such a designation is made, the member may be compensated for 100% of the loss.Significantly, the key numbers – $15,000 maximum compensation and 20% drop in a given housing market to make it “depressed” – have not changed in ten years. Over the same period, average house prices in Canada have more than doubled. This means that the potential loss suffered by a CF member before the “depressed market” designation is engaged has significantly increased. Further, Treasury
Board (TB) apparently takes the position that “community” means a broad metropolitan area as a whole, not a smaller area which may be subject to significant local influences on market prices.As a result, and as noted by the CDS in one recent decision, CF members are exposed to a “potentially devastating financial loss.” This is certainly borne out by the fact situations presented to the Board, involving losses ranging from $30,000 up to $73,000 after the payment of the maximum compensation under the existing program. In these cases, postings, often unforeseen but driven by “the exigencies of the service” have caused catastrophic financial
consequences for CF families.

Three factors combine to make the Home Equity Allowance worthy of examination and comment. 

The first is the severity of the losses suffered by the grievors; the second is the inability of the Canadian Forces to provide relief; and the third is the prospect
of further similar grievances due to the current trends in the real estate market

It also appears to the Board that some HEA claims may not have been addressed in a helpful or proper way by the CF authority responsible to administer the policy. While the CF has no power to change the HEA program, it is required under the CFIRP to forward individual submissions for the “depressed market” designation to TBS. In a case where the grievor had provided evidence of a market depression of 30%, the Board noted that his claim for extended HEA and the resulting grievance have been denied without sending a TB submission forward. This decision is said to be based on an email notification provided by a staff officer at TB in May 2009 to the effect that there are no “depressed markets” in Canada.

It was later explained to the Board that the matter had not been pursued “given other more pressing priorities and TBS conviction that there simply isn’t
a big enough problem to justify a submission for a policy change.”In the view of the Board, that is just not good enough. In its latest findings and recommendations
on this issue, the Board noted:According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the national average resale home value in Canada was $342,662 in June 2010 (p.197). Under these circumstances, a 19 percent drop in the market would result in a loss of $65,105.78, which would only be reimbursed up to $15,000 under the current policy. For these reasons, [the Board] finds that HEA under the CFIRP is not reasonable or modern and does not achieve the aim of relocating members with a minimum detrimental effect, and therefore, remedial action should be taken in regard to this issue.The Board was pleased to see that the CDS agreed.

In two cases where the CDS could not provide relief, he nonetheless directed a review of the HEA policy with TB with a view to minimizing the negative effect on CF members. In the one “depressed market” case referred to above, the CDS directed that a TB submission be prepared as required by the CFIRP.

The Board has recommended, and the Chief of the Defence Staff has agreed, that the Canadian Forces work with Treasury Board to revise the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program such that members are relocated at a reasonable cost to the public without a detrimental impact on their financial well-being.

In summation, the devastating impact of this type of loss on the family is best described by the spouse of a grievor in a letter to the CDS:

You work your whole life to save for your family and relocation from your employer puts you into a bankruptcy position, destroys all savings and puts you into great debt. Why do we have to lose so much because of a posting?

It must also be said that, in each of the cases the Board has reviewed to date, the CF member had acted prudently in a difficult situation, buying a modest home for the area to which he or she was posted. Being posted wherever and whenever the CF needs one’s service is accepted as a requirement of a military career. On the other side of the bargain, CF families, while accepting that they must be moved at a reasonable cost to the public, rightfully expect no detrimental impact on their financial well-being. The Board has recommended (and the CDS has agreed) that the CF work with TBS to revise the CFIRP such that it accomplishes both goals and better supports CF families”.

Currently, Major Brauer is fundraising to resolve this injustice and needs help with your fundraining.

Written by majorbrauer

January 3, 2014 at 15:35

12 Responses

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  1. Maj Brauer

    October 23, 2014 at 13:55

  2. Contacted by a new member today. Same situation, lost his shirt. I hope TBS gets this resolved quickly!

    majorbrauer

    July 10, 2014 at 22:45

  3. Treasury Board has provided their response to the Federal Court, on the Home Equity Assistance denial case. Comments welcomed.

    http://healoss.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/29-apr-14-ltr-to-court-from-doj-enc-additional-documentation.pdf

    majorbrauer

    April 29, 2014 at 18:11

  4. For widest distribution:

    Date for Federal Court announced: April 15 at 9:30 am for 3 hours, Halifax Federal Court

    http://healoss.wordpress.com/

    Please attend and show your support for military families. Thanks to all for their assistance over the past four years!

    majorbrauer

    March 28, 2014 at 16:07

    • I see that a number of CF are in the same situation. Perhaps you might look into a Class Action Lawsuit.

      Chris

      April 14, 2014 at 21:56

      • Hi Chris,

        That will depend on the decision and if it affects others, or if their cases are too distinct.

        majorbrauer

        April 15, 2014 at 19:24

    • Best of luck tomorrow. As an RCMP member soon to be in a very similar predicament I commend your courage and strength.

      Paul

      April 14, 2014 at 23:33

      • Thank you Paul. I hope that it is resolved before you or others are posted this year. I appreciate your support!

        majorbrauer

        April 15, 2014 at 19:25

    • I wish you complete success. I echo Chris’ comment and agree that a class action law suit by all members who sustain financial loss as a result of systemic policies, decisions, indecision or inaction related to CF IRP and/or DCBA or DGCB, might perhaps gain the attention of the TBS or the Minister. Not only are the policies harmful, the growing backlog of adjudications is appaling proof that the chain of command knowingly accepts that some members and their families can be victimized in order to meet budget priorities. I suggest the courts would be generous in awarding punitive and exemplary damages in view of the unique moral and ethical betrayal in this circumstance.

      John

      April 17, 2014 at 13:09

  5. Many thanks to Mr Sam Gatenby of Nova Scotia for his generous $2,100 donation to the Soldiers Justice Fund http://healoss.wordpress.com/

    majorbrauer

    January 29, 2014 at 06:55

  6. To date, we have tried to resolve the systemic denial of relocation benefits by formal and informal methods, including application, appeal, grievance and judicial review. Unfortunately, the cost has been high…too high.

    I have fought for close to four years, and lost much to this fight and I am not willing to be beaten by TBS delay tactics using OUR tax dollars. Many families are affected by this issue.

    I have used all available resources to fund the Judicial Review. To date, I have lost over $250,000 due to this injustice. Despite that, and raising a large family, we have been able to raise over $8,500 at http://www.gofundme.com/Home-Equity-Assistance .

    The current legal bill is $14,000 and expected to go up to $20,000 for the Judicial Review.

    Please consider assisting Canadian Armed Forces military families who ave been systemically denied their entitlements (some in excess of $100,000), follow the following for ways you can help.

    Donate online: http://www.gofundme.com/Home-Equity-Assistance or direct through Paypal

    Donate via mail: Address available upon request

    Purchase (100% proceeds to fund): http://stores.ebay.ca/ubiqueantiques/

    Share: Spread the word!

    My sincere thanks.
    Marcus Brauer

    majorbrauer

    January 22, 2014 at 20:47

    • Thanks for the info

      Anonymous

      April 22, 2014 at 11:56


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