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

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

The Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program

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As the 5 year fight for our entitlements continues, I thought I would provide a few descriptions of the program from official sources:

  • Despite the efforts of DCBA 2, the provisions of the CF IRP remain confusing, vague, contradictory and difficult to understand all of which has contributed to a high number of adjudication requests. (CAF Ombudsman);
  • The office is concerned that the CF IRP, with its changing entitlements and approval authorities, has become a complex moving target for individual service members to access (Ombudsman);
  • we’re addressing the benefits with Treasury Board as the ombudsman outlines, house hunting trips to expand that, come up with a different formula for home equity assistance (Chief of Military Personnel-2013)
  • The Board recommended that the CDS direct that the HEA policy applicable to CF members selling their homes upon posting be re-examined with a view to reducing the impact of losses on sale to a reasonable and minimally detrimental level (2010 – Canadian Forces Grievance Board);
  • “…The Treasury Board Relocation Policy in the Middle of a period of government restraint has left the impression that saving money on relocation costs at the expense of CF personnel and their families is the primary objective.  This is absolutely not the case.  You can still apply to the directorate of compensation benefits administration for special consideration.  In short, the policy was designed to ensure YOU DO NOT GO OUT OF POCKET FOR EXPENSES THAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CF”;
  • 2007 – “the CFIRP serves to relocate service members, their family, and their goods in an efficient and cost-effective fashion, while minimizing disruptions to CF operations and military members.” CANFORGEN 093/07 CMP 038/07 241401Z MAY 07 UPDATE – CANADIAN FORCES INTEGRATED RELOCATION PROGRAM (CF IRP);
  • 2009-“there is a perception that benefits have been reduced as opposed to enhanced… the policy was designed to ensure you do not go out of pocket for expenses that are the responsibility of the CF” CANFORGEN 130/09 CMP 056/09 201717Z JUL 09 CLARIFICATION OF THE CF RELOCATION POLICY ON DOOR TO DOOR MOVES

  • 2010 – “…the intent of the policy is to ensure that personnel are not required to pay for expenses that ought to be assumed by the CF” CANFORGEN 078/10 CMP 036/10 311602Z MAR 10 2010 CANADIAN FORCES INTEGRATED RELOCATION PROGRAM

http://politwitter.ca/page/videos/id/41803

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

February 22, 2015 at 15:43

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with

CAF Ombudsman Concerns on Home Equity Assistance Administration

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2013 November:

On the Homefront: Assessing the Well-being of Canada’s Military Families in the New Millennium[1]

[1] http://www.ombudsman.forces.gc.ca/en/ombudsman-reports-stats-investigations-military-families/military-families.page

The Home Equity Assistance Program provides financial assistance to members and their families when selling their principal residence. CF members who sell their home at a loss are entitled to reimbursement up to 80 percent of the difference between the original purchase price and the sale price, up to a maximum of $15,000. A loss in excess of $15,000 (and up to 100 percent) may be reimbursed in places designated as “depressed markets” areas as defined by the Treasury Board Secretariat. The major criterion for a “depressed market” is real estate values in a specific market having dropped by 20 percent or more during the concerned timeframe. There are currently no Canadian markets deemed to meet the 20 percent criteria.

There are several concerns with this program. The policy itself is vague, and the criterion is too onerous. The relevance of the all-important 20 percent threshold employed is unclear and not explained in the policy. The $15,000 maximum payment has remained the same since the program’s inception in 1998 despite consistently rising real estate values. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, at that time $15,000 equalled approximately 10 percent of the average house value. Today, the average home price in Canada is closer to $325,000. As such, $15,000 limit represents a considerably lesser percentage of home value than it did in 1998. Consequently, CF families can still incur a loss of several thousand dollars, even when they are eligible to benefit from the Home Equity Assistance Program, and many do.
The documentation required to justify a “depressed market” is voluminous and complex. Moreover, the involvement of a realtor in the process, whose priority is to sell homes and not facilitate claims, is often unrealistic. The overwhelming majority of members and their families who complete and submit a claim for 100 percent reimbursement through the Treasury Board Secretariat have their claim eventually denied. According to Director Compensation and Benefits Administration figures, from July 2008 through to January 2013, 118 applications were submitted for losses greater than $15,000. [207] Of those applications, the total number decided on by the Treasury Board Secretariat (as opposed to the Director Compensation and Benefits Administration) is unclear. This is because, in some instances, Home Equity Assistance claims are reimbursed fully for losses above $15,000 without being forwarded to the Treasury Board Secretariat for consideration. Depending on the reimbursement claimed, or on whether the sale price is below or at 95 percent of the appraised value, losses up to 100 percent may be reimbursed through three funding envelopes available to the CF member, provided these are not exhausted as a function of other expenses incurred as part of the posting. If there are sufficient funds to cover the entire loss claimed, all envelopes may be used to reimburse the member directly by the CF’s moving Agency, or by the Director Compensation and Benefits Administration. What is clear is that since 2008, the Treasury Board Secretariat had approved only two Home Equity Assistance claim files, both in 2011.
Unfortunately, many families discover too late that this benefit is subject to stringent conditions and thus applied on an exceptional basis only. The restrictive application of this benefit is not specified or referred to in policy and therefore not understood until a military family faces a loss on a home sale. This creates a false expectation in the minds of many families that this program protects them in the event of having to sell at a loss.

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

February 22, 2015 at 15:22

Posted in Uncategorized

CAF OMBUDSMAN on Home Equity Assistance Systemic Denial

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The Board indicated that it previously made a systemic recommendation regarding the need to have the HEA program reviewed; the Board added that, in a recent decision, the CDS agreed and directed the Director General Compensation and Benefits (DGCB) to review the HEA provisions with the TBS with a view to reducing the impact of losses on sale of a residence to a reasonable and minimally detrimental level. The Board expressed the hope that this matter will be treated as a priority by both the CDS and the DGCB, given the prospect of further similar grievances due to the current trends in the real estate market.[i]

[i] http://mgerc-ceegm.gc.ca/cs-sc/2012-058-eng.html

“While the average price of a house has tripled since then (as per statistics from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation), the benefits under the policy have not been amended to more adequately respond to the needs of Canadian Forces members and their families,” Daigle wrote in a letter to Lawson, dated Dec. 21, 2012.

“Times are tough for everybody,” Daigle said.

“But what we demand of military people in this country we don’t demand the same for the rest. If you’re told you go to one place to do that job, and you’ve got to be loyal and agree to that, why would you pick up the bill at the end?”

 

Over the years, the office has identified serious concerns with the Home Equity Assistance policy within the Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program (CFIRP).
When posted, Canadian Forces members can be faced with volatile market conditions, a lack of availability of military housing, limited housing options in the open market, low rental vacancy rates and a short time-frame in which to decide where to live. Many of these circumstances are beyond the control of Canadian Forces members and can have severe and long-lasting financial and personal consequences.
Under the Home Equity Assistance policy, Canadian Forces members are only compensated for the full loss on the sale of a home if it is located in a community where Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) – the authority on the government’s relocation policy – has determined that the housing market has dropped by more than 20 percent. The CFIRP requires that a military member, who wishes to apply for depressed market status due to a home equity loss, must substantiate his/her case and submit it to the Director of Compensation and Benefits Administration for consideration and possible submission to TBS.
As a result of the Home Equity Assistance policy, a number of Canadian Forces members have incurred significant financial hardship. Between 2008 and 2012, 118 Canadian Forces members suffered losses greater than $15,000 and, in some cases, losses greater than $80,000. In comparison, only two received a full reimbursement.
The former Chief of Defence Staff supported a number of grievances as valid claims for Canadian Forces members’ loss of equity as a result of the sale of their home; however, he lacked the financial authority to reimburse these losses.
The Ombudsman appeared before the Parliamentary Defence Committee in February 2013 and recommended that the Chief of Defence Staff be given financial authority to resolve financial unfairness. Several other witnesses made the same recommendation.
The Ombudsman’s office remains concerned by the financial losses and the resulting distress being placed on military members and their families as a result of relocation. The office will continue to investigate complaints that relate to the Home Equity Assistance policy and will submit recommendations as appropriate. [1]

[1] http://www.ombudsman.forces.gc.ca/en/ombudsman-reports-stats-reports/2012-2013-full-annual-report.page

 

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

February 22, 2015 at 15:19

Posted in Uncategorized

CFIRP Decision 2011-119

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2011-119

Accordingly, the Board recommended that the Chief of the Defence staff :

  • uphold the grievance;
  • direct the reimbursement of HEA, MLI and SIT from the grievor’s core envelope; and
  • direct a review and reassessment of the grievor’s file to determine her entitlement to capital improvement reimbursement.

CDS: “The CDS agreed with the Board’s recommendation to grant the grievance. The CDS agreed with the Board’s recommendation that the grievor be reimbursed for the HEA”

Written by Major Marcus Brauer

February 22, 2015 at 15:11

Posted in Uncategorized

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