This update is of interest to agencies that are funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
During the spring meeting of the National Settlement Council (NSC - joint policy and program table of CIC and sector umbrella organizations from across the country), the recent CFP and negotiations processes were reviewed and areas for further work discussed and prioritized.
Following is a high-level summary of some of the issues to be further discussed:
1. CIC delays in implementing contribution agreements: Some agencies were not able to sign their agreements until early April 2013 due to CIC acknowledged delays. They were then told they could not submit claims for the time period prior to the signing of the agreement. This resulted in agencies having to absorb staff wages and overhead costs for that time. The NSC recommends that CIC NHQ shift the contribution agreement negotiation so that agreements are in place and signed by January of each year.
2. Administrative fee: The issue of a floating administrative fee that fluctuates based on monthly or quarterly claims is problematic and an outstanding issue that impacts an agency's ability to manage monthly operational expenses on a sustainable basis. The NSC recommends moving the administrative fee to a fixed set monthly figure separate from the claim value effective April 1, 2013. In addition, in some cases the maximum 15% administrative fee is insufficient for smaller agencies in both urban and rural areas. The NSC discussed this in the grants and contribution working group and would like CIC NHQ to reiterate to CIC program officers that they have the flexibility of negotiating up to 20% admin fee on a case by case basis.
3. Professional Development contributions/training to sector staff: Some agencies negotiated an amount per full-time employee PD rate while others were instructed that all PD funds were to be provided through their respective provincial or regional umbrella associations. However, these associations that have in place multi-year CA's were informed that all PD funds earmarked for 2013-2014 were going towards the 2013 National Settlement Conference.
4. Percentage contribution of management salaries allowable under program delivery cost: The inability to negotiate a national standard-percentage of time that CEO's, Executive Directors and other senior leadership be included as part of program delivery costs remains an issue. The NSC feels strongly that the work of CEO's, ED's and other senior agency leaders is community connection work. Their community-wide work clearly addresses CIC's program logic model outcomes. The NSC would like to entertain a discussion to consider a national standard to recognize the time they contribute to aspects of actual CIC funded program delivery.
5. Substitute LINC teachers, childcare workers and some support/administrative staff as an eligible program expense but no budget line item amount for it: While deemed to be an eligible expense, but one that will be “covered by slippage occurring during the fiscal year”, this practice has placed agencies in the position of a) creating the risk of incurring significant costs in substitute staff without an agreement to cover these costs and b) forcing them to actively seek to create “slippage” by under spending in other necessary budget lines. Where did this standard / directive come from?
6. Staff mileage reimbursement: In some regions, CIC will not reimburse parking, a major expense in urban centres, but instead suggests using taxis. CIC has indicated it's willing to pay double the cost of projected parking fees in order to cover taxi fares, just to be consistent on this point. The NSC recommends policy flexibility in situations where exemptions allow agencies to provide services at a lower cost than what the policy dictates.