Home Equity Assistance

100% Home Equity Assistance in CFIRP

REPORT ON THE HOME EQUITY ASSISTANCE ENTITLEMENT FOR RELOCATING MEMBERS

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REPORT ON THE HOME EQUITY ASSISTANCE ENTITLEMENT FOR RELOCATING MEMBERS.

 

REPORT ON THE HOME EQUITY ASSISTANCE ENTITLEMENT FOR RELOCATING CF MEMBERS

ISSUE

1.         The aim of the briefing note is to apprise members of a systemic denial of an approved relocation entitlements by the Treasury Board  Secretariat (TBS), significantly affecting hundreds of Canadian Forces members and their families. The approval process within TBS is not in line with the intent of the policy.

BACKGROUND

2.         The Canadian Forces Integrated Relocation Program (CFIRP) is a DND policy which authorizes 100% of Home Equity Loss over $15,000 as a reimbursable entitlement if criteria are met and if TBS identifies the “community” as a “depressed market”. Although as of 2010, there were 146 applications, none were approved. The Canadian Forces Grievance system was unable to provide relief even when applications were supported by the Chief of Defence Staff and the CF Military Ombudsman.  The authority to approve 100% HEA is held by the TBS (Mr Ram Singh), who is responsible for declaring a depressed market. A Depressed market, as established by Treasury Board Secretariat, “is defined as a community where the housing market has dropped more than 20%” (CFIRP, 2009)

DISCUSSION

3.         The discussion will summarize key issues:

  1. CDS not approved to provide for relief

(1)               Although the CDS supported the 100% HEA applications, he could neither force TBS to reconsider, nor could he affect any form of relief due to limited financial authority.

  1. Unfair use of blanket denial

(1)               TBS decision maker (Mr. R.S.) denied all HEA application by applying a blanket denial indicating that there are no depressed markets in Canada, although being provided information to the contrary. This demonstrates indifference at the highest levels;

(2)               When evidence (HEA applications) provided the proof of meeting all criteria (specifically an average 20% loss in housing costs), the TBS changed tactics and used a blanket denial which was based on 2007-2008 data when applying it to moves in 2010, and had not been updated;

(3)               Treasury board has replaced the term “community” in the CFIRP policy with the term “area” in all of their decisions, with the effect of lowering the average home sale price from the required 20% to below the 20% cut off limit. This was done by TBS; and

(4)               Blanket denials have been tried in Federal Court of Canada previously and have been found to be unconstitutional infringing on the s.7 rights of individuals.

  1. Definition of community

(1)               CFIRP policy has the term community as the area to be assessed as a “depressed market”. This definition is neither defined nor used by Treasury Board or the NJC relocation policy.  However, it is defined by the Government of Canada, the legal definition and scholarly articles, all of which support a rural town as a “community” not part of an “area”.

(2)               The interchanging of a policy terminology between how it is written and how it is assessed demonstrates that the policy is vague and over-breadth. At no time has TBS or the military attempted to clarify the definition of community to the relocating members in order to prevent continuing failure of this policy and jeopardising the financial stability of relocating members.

  1. Recourse

(1)               As the CF Grievance system has been exhausted, the only recourse is a Judicial Review in Federal Court. An estimate provided by a local solicitor identifies the cost of a Judicial Review between $15,000-$20,000. As all affected members and their families can attest to, this is not feasible, specifically as a Judicial Review does not provide an appeal.

(2)               While families have been able to stretch their finances to allow the CF Grievance process is completed, it has been three years in some cases. Military families are selling their assets, taking second jobs and utilizing community financial assistance programs. I would hope that within our Governance there is a way for Treasury Board to be held accountable.

CONCLUSION

4.         There is a need to revisit the 100% HEA applications (retroactively), compensate affected members due to secondary and tertiary damages and prevent further effects by clarifying the policy as directed by the Chief of Defence Staff on multiple occasions.

5.         The lack of procedural fairness, to process the application (as per NJC/TBS/CFIRP policy) and the resultant delays/denials have had severe and detrimental effects to CF families. If relief is provided, it will allow affected military families to be in a sustainable financial situation and begin the healing process. Without the financial assistance some families will eventually exhaust their credit, lose military career (due to impacts of bankruptcy on security clearances and continuing mental health issues), impact the health and well being of dependents as well as becoming a burden to society. I believe in our leadership but having this situation forced onto a family without any means of surviving it is cruel and unjustified.

6.         As there is a great deal of stigma attached with the resultant effects of declaring bankruptcy, divorce, career implications, mental health and other effects of these denials; most CF members are not willing to provide their contact information at this point.  As a senior leader in the Canadian Forces, I feel it is my duty to act on their behalf to answer any questions regarding this matter as they pertain to my situation.  I may be contacted using the information below.

Prepared by:  Marcus Brauer, 902-466-4339, i_win(at)live.ca

Date prepared: 10 Nov 12

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Written by Major Marcus Brauer

February 3, 2013 at 13:51

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