Home Equity Assistance

100% Home Equity Assistance in CFIRP

TBS – Celebrating 5 years of inhumane treatment of military families

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Today was one of the most difficult days so far. Submitted my application for compassionate status (a career ender) and I am coming to the conclusion that no matter how much I sell, how hard I work or how many jobs I take, I cannot repay the money.  The most frustrating part, is that it is not my fault. I’ve been carrying the HEA debt since 2010 and using all finances to buy time. Since it has been five years and TBS continues to delay and deny, I am left with little else to do but declare. Why did I not declare earlier? Here are a few reasons:

Loss of perfect credit score for 7 years;
resultant inability to relocate in future, inability to loan or co-sign loans for 5
school aged children (jeopardizing their future);
places the focus of blame on the individual, not the CAF/TBS;
subjected to repossessions and harassing collection agencies;
further personal and family humiliation;
it is against my families beliefs to pass debt onto the taxpayer; and
added stressors to an already stressful situation.

All this time, work and effort – at what price? The Treasury Board of Canada has worn me down, destroyed my life and the lives of my family.

At what price?

Treasury Board’s interpretation of transparency described as “UNREASONABLE AND UNACCEPTABLE”

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2015_01_01_21_30_18 2015_01_01_21_30_12 2015_01_01_21_30_07 2015_01_01_21_30_00

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

January 8, 2015 at 22:51

Treasury Board Secretariat continues to delay Military Families (TBS BS)

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In November 2014, the TBS received a report which they requested, in order to assess the housing market in Edmonton CMA and Bon Accord, Alberta between Jun 2007-May 2010. These are the dates that I lived in Bon Accord. This report was funded by your tax dollars.

Below is my response to this “market analysis” which has been provided to TBS.

05 December 2014

REPRESENTATION – MAJOR MARCUS BRAUER

CONTINUING HOME EQUITY ASSISTANCE DENIAL APPROACHING YEAR 5

Good afternoon Mr XXXXXXX:

  1. As requested, please find below an initial analysis[1] of the Residential Market Conditions (hereafter the “report”) (prepared for PWGSC by XXXXXX) on 21 November 2014.
  1. The report by XXXXXX, should have no impact on the decision of declaring Bon Accord a depressed market. As stated in the CFIRP (2009) the Market Analysis to be assessed is to be provided by the CF Member and the realtor. Further, the Federal Court of Canada has stated that:
  • “The applicant’s situation seems to me to be precisely the type of problem the CFIRP Directive was meant to remedy as indicated in the views expressed by the Grievance Board and the CDS. As interpreted by TBS, however, “CF members are subject to […] absorbing an equity loss” upon “relocation akin to a “forced relocation””. This cannot be what the Government of Canada intended for its military personnel”[2];
  •  “I find that the TBS decision was unreasonable in the sense that it was not justified and was outside the range of acceptable outcomes defensible in light of the facts and the law”[3].
  1. The report is found to be, at best, inconclusive and at worst –intentionally misleading. Significant problems include the intentional MLS data being manipulated to get the results in the report. This is reminiscent to the findings of the Federal Court Judge Justice Mosely, who reviewed the previous TBS market analysis for Bon Accord as follows:
  • “In my view, TBS relied on irrelevant, post-dated and unsubstantiated information”. 
  1. The purpose of the report as stated by PWGSC in the Statement of Work[4] (SOW) was not the same as the author’s objective[5]. As below, the report did not provide any conclusions nor conduct the study with the same objective as required by PWGSC:
  • From SOW: “The stated objective of the study (in the SOW) is a third-party assessment of the market conditions in order to establish if a given location can be considered a “depressed market”[6];
  • Report states “The objective of this study is to determine whether or not Depressed Market conditions were experienced during the study period. A Depressed Market is said to exist where there has been a decline in residential Market Values of twenty percent or more”; and
  • The criteria provided to the author (Report Addendum A)[7] contains the requirements for a depressed market survey. These criteria are markedly different than the criteria listed in the 2009 CFIRP and therefore set the author up for failure in achieving the stated objective(s).

Terminology

  1. Throughout the report, there was inconsistent use of terminology. This is one of the major dis-satisfiers with the overall 2009 HEA policy. Specifically:
  • “Edmonton CMA” is used interchangeably with the terms “Edmonton Region”, “full Edmonton CMA”, “Edmonton CMA Universe” although they have different meanings and geographic areas depending on the data (Statistics Canada and EREB[8] do not have overlapping geographic areas for CMA). Further, the geographic area for Edm CMA has changed according to StatsCan;
  • Variance: Variance is defined as: “A measure of overall variation in a set of data that represents the average squared difference between each value in the data set and the mean of all values”. The report appears to use the term to describe “difference”;
  • Sale price: Also used is “adjusted sale price” which is not defined, and implies that the data has been changed in some respect;
  • Significant (i.e. statistical significance): Refers to a statistical test result that leads to the rejection of the implicit or explicit hypothesis of independence between two or more variables. The author indiscriminately uses the term significant to imply “trustworthy, or of significant importance”;
  • Days on Market, Marketing time: are used interchangeably without being defined; and
  • Note that the author uses “Market Values”, which, according to CFIRP 2009 is defined as: “The value of a[9] residence at the time of its sale.”

Research validity

  1. Throughout the report, the most basic conventions of research or analysis were not evident. These can lead to issues with interpretation, verification or duplication of the calculations or results. It certainly affects the credibility of the conclusions. Some of the gross errors include:
  •      None of the diagrams, tables, charts or datum labelled;
  •      the majority of charts and diagrams show only year (assume annual averages),
  • some diagrams do not include the report’s mandated dates at all[10] (i.e. 2007 and 2010 not represented;
  • the report’s data sources were not referenced in any diagrams, tables, charts or addenda;
  • data supposedly from MLS was only provided for Bon Accord, not Edm CMA;
  • boundaries of CMA’s and their sub-components change often[11]. MLS data does not make the same changes and is therefore, not representative of reflecting the housing market of a CMA;
  • Statistics from government agencies were not referenced, nor were source  data tables or dates obtained provided[12];
  • The report and the 2009 CFIRP (TBS) have different definitions of depressed market: “Depressed Market is said to exist where there has been a decline in residential Market Values of twenty percent or more”[13]. Vs.: “Depressed market, as established by Treasury Board Secretariat, is defined as a community where the housing market has dropped more than 20%.” The author and the TBS are using different definitions of “Depressed Market”[14];
  • comparisons do not measure “like against like”[15]. By not using similar house types, the Edm CMA “Total Residential Market” data[16] includes duplexes and townhouses.  One report cannot satisfy the market assessment unless it analyses the market(s) for each style of house, as required by CFIRP and the applicant//realtor to provide to DCBA/TBS. CFIRP 2009 states that “similar type homes” are to be compared for HEA calculations[17];
  • throughout the document, there are many direct relationships stated without any proof of cause and effect. The cause and effect must be either demonstrated, or referenced. Otherwise it is solely an unqualified opinion.
  • the report identifies the geographical area of the Edm CMA incorrectly according to Statistics Canada[18];
  • MLS data does not use the same geographical boundaries as the EREB or the CMA, therefore the CMA conclusions are ineffective;
  • throughout the report, different criteria were used to assess the % loss. These included average price per sq ft, sold price per sq m and average sale price. No standard unit of measure is used within the report to identify a change in price;
  •  Annual sale values are used throughout the report. As the SOR requires Jun 2007-May 2010 information, no annual data will capture changes over these timeframes (i.e. Jun 2007 market compared to May 2010 market); and
  • multiple errors, omissions, mis-calculations and misclassifications are identified within the notes of the attached PDF file;

Efficacy of the Report

  1. While the report did not achieve the objectives outlined in the SOW, it did attempt to provide a “market analysis” of Edmonton CMA and Bon Accord. There were serious issues with the methods and analysis used by the author:
  • the report did not use the same methodology for both Edm CMA and Bon Accord Market Analysis, although the author (incorrectly[19]) attempted to draw conclusions by comparing the two distinct geographical areas[20];
  • the report included only data from Bon Accord, and not Edm CMA;

Bon Accord analysis:

  • the report excluded some MLS data from the Bon Accord Analysis;
  • the missing Bon Accord MLS data was not presented,
  • rationale for removing the MLS data from Bon Accord was not identified;
  • The impact on the “missing data” was not identified not stated;
  • The report did not identify the number of homes sold during the Jun 07-May 10 timeframe, a definite indicator of a depressed market. In the Bon Accord community, there was only one BLEVL type homes sold, which represents 100% of the market between those two dates. Note also that the FCC identified that “30 houses had sold in Bon Accord in 2007 and 40 in 2008, only 6 had been sold as of May 2010”
  •  the Edm CMA “Total Residential Market” data[21] includes duplexes and townhouses, whereas the Bon Accord data does not;

Edm CMA analysis: Much of the Edm CMA analysis is captured in comments on the attached PDF file and is beyond the scope of this report;

  •  Generally accepted research principles conduct research in a specific order to minimize error or influence of the author. This sequence is for the investigator to: Follow the objective, develop indicators, measure, study and conclude. This report appears to deny there are depressed markets, provide measures then manipulate the MLS data. It never achieves it’s secondary stated outcome of “identifying five benchmarks of the real estate market”[22].

Conclusions

  1. The TBS is to base their decision on the Market Analysis provided by the CAF and his/her realtor to determine a depressed market[23] in accordance with the CFIRP. Conducting an additional analysis only demonstrates the desire to limit/deny applications for HEA. As noted in the initial HEA application, the Community of Bon Accord’s housing market was calculated by a realtor (as specified in the CFIRP).
  1. The realtor identified that the Bon Accord housing market fell by 23.11% (undisputed by TBS in Federal Court). This evidence was un-contradicted in the FCC between Jun 2007 and May 2010.
  1. A 47 page report which self identifies its conclusions as “speculative”, “interpretive”, “not guaranteed for accuracy” speak towards its validity. When conclusions are drawn from an analysis which is self stated as statistically insignificant, those results should not be relied upon. Specifically: “It (average home sale prices in Bon Accord) does not represent the variance from June 2007-May 2010 as there is insufficient sales in the Town of Bon Accord to draw a statistically relevant conclusion”, goes on to conclude in the report summary that “depressed market conditions” were not experienced in the Edmonton CMA or the Town of Bon Accord”[24].

SUMMARY

  1. The report compiled for the TBS is not valid and it should not be relied upon to make any determination on market conditions.
  • The report identifies that it has different objectives and criteria than requested in the Statement of Work;
  • As the 20% criteria was proven in the initial 2010 application, uncontested in Federal Court and deemed not necessary in the only two successful HEA cases in Canada[25] [26], it is unclear why another report was commissioned where it cannot be used in making the decision of a depressed market;
  1. By using the MLS data provided in the report, and using all of the homes of similar type (BLEVL) bought between Jun 2007 and May 2010, with a sample size of 100% of the Bon Accord market, bought in those months, the housing market fell by 21.7%. This statistic is in agreement with the Royal Lepage assessment provided in the initial application date 10 May 2010, which found the Bon Accord housing market to have gone down by 23.11%. This report provides multiple percentages, but does not provide one percentage of housing market decrease for Bon Accord as requested in the SOW.

22. Considering the history of this matter and the length of time I been attempting to obtain a remedy, I would ask that this matter be dealt with expediently. As the TBS has confirmed through providing 100% HEA in Temiscaming, QC and Yarmouth, NS without a market analysis confirming 20% loss, and considering that the 20% factor is not the only factor to be considered, I would ask that this application for entitlements be dealt with post-haste in order for me to attempt to regain some of my life, career and family. Of note, I contacted the members who won their HEA application in Temiscaming and Yarmouth, and they both were terrified that they were contacted, and advised that they were told they cannot talk about it.  I may be reached at the number below if you require any clarification/information.

“e-signed”

Marcus Brauer

Major

25 Wheatstone Heights, Dartmouth

Nova Scotia, B2Y 4E1

(902) 466-4339

Appendix: e-copy of Report with notes

cc: CAF Ombudsman’s Office

cc: Hon Robert Chisholm

cc: Undisclosed recipients (4)

[1] The foundation of my review is based on a masters level courses obtained in 2010-2012. Managerial Epidemiology (HESA 5320.03), is “designed for health administrators, not researchers. The course has three components: assessing the health status of a population using existing data; using Epi-Info for statistical analysis of associations (relative risk, odds ratio, chi-square test, confidence intervals, Mantel-Haenszel analysis, multiple logistic regression); and clinical guideline monitoring. Throughout the course, recurring themes are: understanding the meaning of numbers, assessing validity, and ascertaining causation, including the concepts of confounding and effect modification”. Further my masters level thesis was an 10 year trend analysis of blue cross payments by the Canadian Forces, which involved many hundreds of thousands of calculations. I have significant experience in assessing research and conducting analysis of data. Several courses in research methodology and master level statistics courses as well.

[2] FCC decision para 64 at http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2014/2014fc488/2014fc488.pdf

[3] FCC decision para 68 at http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2014/2014fc488/2014fc488.pdf

[4] As found in the Reports Statement of Work, pp.41

[5] As noted in an email from PWGSC (3 Dec 2014) “In this instance, the report you reference was a low dollar value sole source contract,  as an update of previous work to specifically address the Bon Accord market in the context of an earlier study of the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) Edmonton market.  This original work was contracted after competitive bids were solicited from qualified suppliers. Details of the deliverables required and the original statement of work for the CMA Edmonton study were included in the addenda of the report.”

[6] Note: This report is supposed to be provided by the CF Member and their realtor (Royal Lepage) which was provided in the initial application.

[7] Report p 43

[8] Confirmed with EREB and MLS

[9] “A” implying singular.

[10] Report pp.6

[11] As evidenced by Statscan in their 2011 report at http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/92f0009x/92f0009x2011001-eng.pdf

[12] In accordance with the Materials on the Statistics Canada website were produced and/or compiled by Statistics Canada for the purpose of providing Canadians with access to information about the programs and services offered by the Government of Canada. The information is being used against Canadians by the Government. Not being used for the purpose for which it was gathered, nor is it being referenced.

[13] Report

[14] 2009 CFIRP

[15] B.A. is a town, while the Edm CMA remains poorly defined. Even if the Edm CMA was defined (using either MLS, EREB or Statscan geographical boundaries), it is akin to making a comparison between your spleen (Bon Accord) and your body (Edm CMA).

[16] Report pp.16

[17] CFIRP 2009 s. 8.2.13 para 4(b)

[18] Edmonton CMA is currently contains the following areas: http://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p3VD.pl?Function=getVD&TVD=117159&CVD=117161&CPV=835&CST=01012011&CLV=2&MLV=3

[19] As determined in the FCC decision “It appears that no consideration was given to the differences between Edmonton, a major urban centre with a diversified economy and population of about 1 million and Bon Accord, a small town linked to the oil industry”.

[20] Edm CMA had no adjustments of MLS data due to physical characteristics of the properties, while Bon Accord had the selling prices in 2010 greatly manipulated (adjusted sale price) for that same reason. (report pp.21). This had an impact on the calculation.

[21] Report pp.16

[22] Report pp 1

[23] CFIRP 2009

[24] Report pp.32

[25] FCC decision para 65 at http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2014/2014fc488/2014fc488.pdf

[26] “The declarations in these that the standard required in this instance – a decline in the housing market of greater than 20% – was not required in those cases”  two cases contained no finding that the entire housing market had declined by 20% or more. Rather they dealt with the general economic conditions in both communities and the personal circumstances of the individuals concerned. Thus it appears

Welcome to the HEA forum

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The intent of this site is to combine our knowledge, resources and skills. As I am new to blogging etc, I would invite everyone to become involved and make this forum a focal point for our cause.

 

All members have been given editor access and so there is opportunity for everyone to change the site and make it better/easier to access.

 

I look forward to working on developing this site as our one point of focus for exchange of information and historical record. Once we have it developed, we will share it with our contacts and friends to spread the word. We need to take advantage of the recent press activity and I would like to have this up and running in a week or so.  All assistance is greatly appreciated.

 

Marcus Brauer

 

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

November 23, 2012 at 01:25

Posted in Administration

Changes to the Relocation Rules on Home Equity Assistance?

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A friend noted that the CBI (Compensation and Benefit Instructions) have been quietly amended with regards to the Home Equity Assistance.  What do you think? Has anyone seen a change in the CFIRP policy or policy clarification notices?

2009 Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program

2009 Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program-Dreamers and Doers Guide

208.97 – Home Equity Assistance

208.97(1) (Definitions) The definitions in this paragraph apply in this instruction.

adjusted purchase price

means, in respect of a principal residence, the price paid for the principal residence plus the value, as determined on the basis of actual costs for materials and professional labour, of any eligible home improvements determined under paragraph (6).

current market value

means, in respect of a principal residence, the value at the time of sale as determined by the Chief of the Defence Staff based on three appraisals.

eligible home improvements

include

  1. the addition of a garage;
  2. the addition of perimeter fencing;
  3. the addition of a deck or patio;
  4. the installation or paving of a driveway;
  5. necessary basic landscaping other than decorative;
  6. the finishing of a basement in a manner which adds living space to the residence; and
  7. the permanent addition of a bedroom or other living space.

principal residence

means a principal residence as defined in paragraph (1) of CBI 208.96 – Acquisition and Disposal of Residential Accommodation.

sale price

means, in respect of a principal residence, the final selling price.

208.97(2) (Application) This instruction applies in respect of the sale of a principal residence by an officer or non-commissioned member where, as determined by the Chief of the Defence Staff, the housing prices at the member’s place of duty have decreased by 10% or more between the date of purchase and the date of sale of the principal residence.

208.97(3) (Sale price lower than adjusted purchase price) An officer or non-commissioned member who is moved at public expense other than locally and sells a principal residence shall be reimbursed 90% of the difference between the sale price and the adjusted purchase price, when the sale price is lower than the adjusted purchase price.

208.97(4) (Sale price lower than current market value) Despite paragraph (3), when the sale price is also lower than the current market value, the Chief of the Defence Staff may limit reimbursement to 90% of the difference between the current market value and the adjusted purchase price.

208.97(5) (Appraisal) For the purpose of this instruction, the current market value and the value of eligible home improvements shall be determined on the basis of appraisals by licensed property appraisers appointed by the Chief of the Defence Staff.

208.97(6) (Under financial hardship) Despite paragraphs (2), (3) and (4), the Chief of the Defence Staff may approve reimbursement to an officer or non-commissioned member in any case that does not meet the criteria of this instruction when the Chief of the Defence Staff considers that the member would suffer undue financial hardship.

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

April 16, 2015 at 17:58

Army School

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Just read the article http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/yves-engler/conservative-military-school_b_3757488.html? . If anyone is taking this type of education, boy do I have an ethics subject for your thesis!

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

April 6, 2015 at 23:33

Posted in Uncategorized

Why is our government using our tax dollars to destroy military families?

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Written by Major Marcus Brauer

April 6, 2015 at 09:19

Posted in Uncategorized

Spring brings new life to HEA members

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Hello all:

Decided to take 2 weeks off of work. Not going to Florida, or to see the grandparents…but preparing our items for a large indoor yard sale. Hopefully some day I will be able to take my family somewhere for march break, or a holiday rather than working to pay off TBS.

Still no decision or contact from TBS at this time. I thought that Treasury Board of Canada was not above the courts? It appears not.

If you are in the Halifax area this weekend, stop by, we have 3 tables of items for sale: https://www.facebook.com/events/620111088090244/

Marcus

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

March 31, 2015 at 12:50

Posted in Uncategorized

Latest media coverage over the Systemic Denial of Military Relocation Entitlements

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Written by Major Marcus Brauer

March 17, 2015 at 21:10

Posted in Uncategorized

TBS excuses themselves from Audit – then gets caught costing the taxpayers over $35 million!

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I came across this TBS document and I would like your thoughts. In the ROD (record of decision below), the Treasury Board Secretariat excuses themselves from participating in a Governmental Audit (Apr 2010).

At that time, the TBS was in court for BID RIGGING the Federal Relocation Contract, which ended up costing the taxpayers $35 Million. The following is an excerpt from the news.

“Justice Peter Annis delivered a withering decision on what he called the government’s “misconduct” in the bidding process and later during litigation. He called the government’s handling of the deal “reprehensible”, “outrageous” and “shocking. ” He also urged an investigation to determine how far knowledge about the misconduct went up the “governmental hierarchy.”

Annis awarded Envoy $30 million to cover lost profits, plus costs and interest, for two contracts — one for relocating the military and the other for moving RCMP and bureaucrats to new postings.

In a separate ruling on costs, he increased the award to cover Envoy’s lost profits and awarded full costs and interest totalling nearly $10 million to send a message about the court’s disapproval of government’s behaviour”.

This same department within the TBS was also engaged in systematically denying military families their relocation entitlements. Some in excess of $100,000.

My question. What good are audits if the agencies (such as TBS) can OPT OUT?

“Government of Canada Audit Committee (GCAC}
Stream 1- Treasury Board Secretariat
April 27, 2010
Record of Decision

00_3Tony-Clement-committee-4457

Item 6: Update of Treasury Board Secretariat’s Strategic Review
Tabled for information
Presenter: Michelle d’ Auray, Secretary of the Treasury Board
The Secretary provided an overview of the strategic review process that the Secretariat is undergoing as a department. She noted that given the department’s unique position, the Secretariat built in mechanisms to ensure sufficient challenge.
Specifically, since the area under the purview of the Chief Human Resources Officer has recently undergone strategic review and therefore excluded from the Secretariat’s review, she will undertake the challenge function. The Secretary also noted that external advisors to the department provide additional challenge. The Committee was informed of the timing for completing the strategic review.

In-Camera Meetings:
In-camera meetings were held individually with the Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Audit Executive. In addition, the Committee met with the President of the Treasury Board”.

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

February 26, 2015 at 22:03

Posted in Uncategorized

ACCESS TO INFORMATION HELP – HOME EQUITY ASSISTANCE

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As posting season is upon us, I have had multiple requests from military members who are expecting to loose a great deal of equity on their home sale. Luckily, the CAF has the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Policy which

Therefore, in order to gain access to government records you will need to fill out a request. You can do this online, or by mail by filling out this form http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/tbsf-fsct/350-57-nf-eng.pdf

Next: You may request information from both DND and TBS by sending requests to their ATI co-ordinator.

The DND forms get mailed to:

Director Access to Information and Privacy
National Defence Headquarters
Major-general George R. Pearkes Bldg.
101 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0K2

and the TBS form gets mailed to:

Access to Information and Privacy Office
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
140 O’Connor Street
8th Floor, East Tower
L’Esplanade Laurier
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R5

Each request can cost $5, so include a cheque (usually reimbursed if you are requesting information about you only).

What to expect: I have experienced that each department will reveal different information to you. Often the ATI officer will call and ask to reword the request to save work/time, stand your ground and ensure you are NOT watering down your request. If you encounter long delays there is an office which can help resolve. For example, DND and TBS both withheld information from me using various excuses. Also information was blacked out or “under review” by another department, and never actioned. With the assistance of the Office of the Information Commissioner  you can get help with some of these roadblocks.

So, you need information about your last relocation as you are expecting to take a large (over $15,000 hit) on your equity? Here are some sample ATI’s for your use as you see fit:

“All memoranda, reports, emails, briefing notes, minutes of meetings held within DND and any letters to or  from Treasury Board for the period 1 January 2009 to 5 August 2012 on the subject of 100% Home Equity Assistance, depressed markets  or policy clarification as it applies to Edmonton and surrounding communities (e.g. Bon Accord, Morinville, St Albert).
DGCB definition of ‘community’ as it applies to the relocation policy used within IRP (e.g. E-mail Thursday, 5, July, 2012 09:43 AM LCol Gash-LCol Raney). Any communications between DCBA/DGCB and TBS demonstrating an effort to resolve the issue of defining “community” as it applies to the CF IRP. Spreadsheet, printout or any document that would show the number of claims submitted, and approved under the Home Equity Assistance (100%) between 1 January 2009 and 5 August 2012″.

Between 2006 and Aug 2012, all memos, reports, emails, briefing notes, minutes, internal and external correspondence regarding Home Equity Assistance, Bon Accord, {Major Brauer}, and the definition of ‘community’ as it applies to relocation policy.  Any documentation on depressed markets, and policy clarification of Home Equity Assistance administration of IRP”.

Drop a line if anyone needs further guidance/assistance. Do note that there are discussions that ATI requests may increase from $5 to $250 each. I myself have been advised that my last ATI would cost hundreds/thousands – but this is my information and I have a right to access it. Without having access to our own personal information, I would not have discovered that we were being cheated out of our entitlements!

Below is an excerpt from the Senate of Canada on the subject of access to our information:

“Access to Information Requests—User Fees

Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition): Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and pertains to the proposed increased user fees for Access to Information requests.

Last Thursday, Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault testified before the House of Commons Access to Information and Ethics Committee on the funding crisis facing her office. In response, a number of Conservative Members of Parliament proposed that the solution to the office’s lack of funding would be to increase the $5 user fee charged for ATIP requests. Erin O’Toole, Member of Parliament for Durham, recommended that the government increase the fees charged to ordinary Canadians from $5 to $25 for each request, and to $200 per request from businesses, including commercial news organizations. This would mean that Canadians would be paying $25 to learn whether Mr. O’Toole’s predecessor had charged $16 for a glass of orange juice.

The Information Commissioner made it clear that increasing the cost of ATIP user fees was not, in her opinion, a good idea. She said:

. . . it is not my office that is in a crisis, it is the fact that Canadians’ right to access government information is in jeopardy, that is the real issue . . .

When your Prime Minister came to power in 2006, he promised to usher in a new era of openness and accountability. His exact words were:

We promised to stand up for accountability and to change the way government works.

Can you explain why the government is even considering charging Canadians more for information which by law belongs to them? If the government does increase user fees, does this not negate completely the government’s claim to be more open and transparent and accountable than its predecessors?”

Marcus

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