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Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs


Proceedings of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs

Issue 4 - Evidence - March 7, 2012

OTTAWA, Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 12:05 p.m. to study the services and benefits provided to members of the Canadian Forces; to veterans; to members and former members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and their families (topic: Transition to civilian life).

Senator Roméo Antonius Dallaire (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. This is a new session of the study we are conducting on veterans' transition to civilian life and on their civilian employment, which is one of the necessary factors in the transition.

Today we are pleased to hear from witnesses from an industry that is known for its traditions and the major role it played and continues to play in our country's evolution.

From Canadian Pacific, we welcome Paul Wajda, General Manager of Human Resources, Planning and Development, and, from Canadian National, Christine Joanis, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, and Nancy Villeneuve, Sourcing Manager.

Ms. Joanis, I really like that title of yours.


She is the Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition. That is a very sophisticated way of saying a dimension of the human resource side.

We have just come back from Charlottetown and we want to spend a couple of minutes on our report from the veterans' headquarters, so we have until about 10 past at the most. Who would like to go first? You have opening statements, I hope. After both presentations, we can go to questions starting with Senator Plett, the deputy chair of the committee. Is it polite that with two women you will be the first, Mr. Wajda?

Paul Wajda, General Manager of Human Resources, Planning and Development, Canadian Pacific (CP): They suggested it, actually. It is in the reverse order.

The Chair: Please proceed, Mr. Wajda.

Mr. Wajda: Chair and senators, my name is Paul Wajda and I am the General Manager of Human Resources, Planning and Development for Canadian Pacific railway. I am accountable for the hire-to-retire process, which includes all hiring in Canada, all the technical and management training, career development and succession planning. I appreciate the invitation to appear before you today to discuss these important issues concerning veterans in Canada.

Canadian Pacific operates a transcontinental railway in Canada and the United States and provides logistics and supply chain expertise. We provide rail and intermodal transportation services over a network of about 15,300 miles, serving the principal business centres of Canada from Montreal to Vancouver, B.C., and also the U.S. Northwest and Midwest regions.

We transport bulk commodities, merchandise freight and intermodal traffic. Bulk commodities include grain, coal, sulphur and fertilizers. Merchandise freight consists of finished vehicles and automotive parts as well as forest and industrial and consumer products. Intermodal traffic consists largely of high-volume, time-sensitive retail goods in overseas containers that can be transported by train, ship and truck, and in domestic containers and trailers that can be moved by train and by truck.

In regard to our workforce, we have over 15,000 employees in Canada and the U.S. Over the next few years, we have considerable hiring requirements both because of core growth in our franchise as well as significant attrition due to retirements. Given these requirements, we have a robust plan to hire approximately 2,000 employees across Canada.

We are currently looking for conductors, who work on the trains and in train yards; diesel mechanics, who fix the locomotives; railcar mechanics, who fix the railcars; signal and communication personnel; seasonal labourers; equipment maintainers; rail traffic controllers; and various management positions.

Currently we have signed agreements with CIVISERVE and Forces@work, where we post a link to our job website, where veterans can apply for those positions. The commitment we made was that veterans would get an interview if they are qualified for the position. Recently, we announced our ongoing commitment with the Lord Strathcona's Horse Regimental Society, which includes providing technical exchanges to showcase work skills in both workforces — the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Pacific — and working with the Regimental Society to find ways to career transition once they decide to leave the Canadian Armed Forces. We provide scholarships for soldiers' transitional training as well as post-secondary scholarships for children of soldiers who wish to further their education. We also provide funding for programs and services to support various society and military family needs.

With that, I will end my opening statement. Thank you for this opportunity.

The Chair: You have opened up a whole series of questions on detail that we will be looking forward to asking you about, including, because you function in the United States, the impact of U.S. government policies in respect of veterans.

Christine Joanis, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Canadian National (CN): Good afternoon. My name is Christine Joanis, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition at CN. I am an ex-officer of the reserve and an industrial psychologist. Today, I am joined by Nancy Villeneuve, sourcing manager at CN. Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. We hope your findings will facilitate the transition of veterans to civilian life, as well as help employers, such as CN, recruit experienced candidates.

As you may know, CN employs over 23,000 people across North America, with 16,000 railroaders in Canada and 7,000 in the U.S. Due to normal attrition, retirements and new market opportunities, CN is focused on renewing its workforce with new railroaders who will help us continue to build on our legacy of operational and service excellence. We are pleased to say that we have made and continue to make solid progress in this area. In 2010 and 2011, CN hired a total of 5,400 employees in North America, with over 3,800 in Canada alone. Over the next two years, we plan to hire an additional 4,200, of which 3,000 will be recruited in Canada, assuming a continued strength in the economic conditions.

CN offers a competitive tool compensation package with excellent pension and benefit programs. Furthermore, CN offers a wide range of employee programs, such as military leave of absence, educational financial assistance, scholarships, group RRSPs, as well as the Employee Share Investment Plan, to name only a few. CN recognizes the importance of good health for employees and their families. This is why our Employee Family Assistance Program offers counselling and referral services to employees as well as their family members.

Furthermore, CN supports our employees' professional development by offering several courses and training programs, including management, leadership, business, technical, job-specific, safety, and computers. Our comprehensive paid training programs are definitely important attraction and retention factors for us at CN. Our offering includes a three-month training program to become a conductor; a three-week training program for track maintainers; and up to four years of apprenticeship to acquire a provincial licence to work as an electrician or heavy-duty mechanic.

At CN we believe diversity produces better business outcomes. We also appreciate that veterans' skills, acquired through training and hands-on military experience, are valuable to us. Our President and CEO, Claude Mongeau, said recently:

Veterans' commitment to teamwork, their feelings of pride and passion, and their sense of accountability are precisely the qualities we look for in prospective railroaders

This approach was further endorsed by our executive vice-president and COO, Keith Creel, who, as a former U.S. Army officer, offered the following quote to G.I. Jobs following our 49th ranking on their top 100 military-friendly employer list in 2011:

Rail is the backbone of the economy and moves the goods that people use every day. A veteran's ability to work in all types of conditions with a sense of urgency and leadership are skills that successful railroaders need.

Many of our veterans occupy different roles throughout the organization. We have former captains, sergeants, corporals and privates, who were once in Kuwait, Bosnia, Afghanistan, now working in IT or operations with positions ranging from communications manager, police officer, assistant signal technician, conductors, track maintainers, heavy- duty mechanics, car apprentices, yard coordinators and first-line supervisors. We attribute our recruitment and retention success to the similarity of lifestyle and working conditions with the military. The railroad is a 24-7, 365-days-a-year operation. There is also a unique sense of passion, pride and teamwork at CN, similar to the feeling of camaraderie that is so characteristic of the military.

Although we have been recruiting veterans in the past, a more targeted approach was launched last fall. As a first step, we wanted to reach out to veterans already working at CN. This was done through a cross-border recognition program on November 11. Through this initiative, we distributed 440 specially designed pins to our veterans that self-identified to recognize and connect with them. This is the pin that I proudly wear today, and I have also distributed one. These men and women will shortly be called to action to act as CN ambassadors by either being profiled on social media, promoting jobs through their own network, acting as subject matter experts or attending military career events.

CN has also implemented targeted outreach and media activities. In the U.S., we have participated in four military base visits and three major military career fairs, and we have established partnerships with 11 military bases identified as being aligned with our recruitment needs. These partnerships were facilitated by the army transition coordinators as well as our own internal recruiters who are ex-military. Tailored recruitment communication tools were created to promote the fit between military skills and jobs at CN. I invite you to look at the signal profile that I distributed as an example.

Social media is an essential tool to promote CN and advertise jobs in order to recruit the best possible candidates. To further increase our reach, CN recently launched a new social and mobile-friendly job-search platform, including an app available through iTunes stores. In addition, we have invested in online advertisement sites such as and other websites sponsored by DirectEmployers, a well-known U.S. job board service. Finally, CN continues to participate in the top employer survey organized by G.I. Jobs and will continue to post jobs on our corporate website and on our newly launched Facebook page.

In the U.S., since the introduction of the White House initiative called Joining Forces, outreach activities have been tremendously facilitated. Companies like CN can now easily access thousands of online resumés thanks to this concerted effort between veterans' organizations, the media and employers. A great example is the free online military job search engine created by Indeed.

These sites assist U.S. veterans in translating their skills and knowledge into civilian jobs and help employers to better understand military experience and responsibilities. While some job and social media environments promoting Canadian veterans have been introduced in Canada, they do not appear to have the same reach as those currently available in the United States.

CN offers the following five recommendations to increase opportunities for veterans and employers:

First, the creation of an official online job board endorsed by Veterans Affairs and the Department of National Defence would enable employers and veterans to connect by posting jobs and resumés respectively. In addition to an official online presence, CN would welcome the organization of military career fairs to better connect with veterans.

We also would look forward to the opportunity to build strong relationships with key military partners, from whom we can obtain first-hand information on recruitment opportunities, and to continually improve and sustain our outreach activities.

The creation of specialized educational programs, such as those found at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, can accelerate the education of former and current military members as they offer accreditation for military experience.

Finally, we suggest increasing the visibility of existing services that help employers and veterans better understand and connect with each other. As an example, in working with Right Management, the current career transition consulting firm retained by Veterans Affairs, CN discovered that more veterans could take advantage of these services.

In other words, there is tremendous value for both the military and private businesses in the creation of official tools and events, as well as an effective liaison service.

In closing, CN faces are changing. We are introducing new generations and new cultures, as well as a more diverse and multi-skilled workforce. We are looking forward to including and welcoming more veterans.

Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to share our efforts and to provide ideas to foster stronger relationships with veterans and their supporting organizations.


The Chair: We are very grateful to you for the reduced fares, even the free trips, you have provided to veterans and their families in recent years. They are greatly appreciated. Your program has not gone unnoticed in the armed forces.


We have gotten some pretty expansive information, and, I must say, I am quite happy that you are the first ones up in regard to looking at the transition to civilian industry. We will go through our list. We want to save 10 minutes at the end, if you please, for a review of our trip.

Senator Plett: Thank you, chair. I certainly agree with the comments you made. I think other witnesses will be hard pressed to give us the type of presentations we have had here today. I am overwhelmed by the efforts that both of our railways are making in getting our men and women in uniform into civilian life. Thank you very much to both companies. Indeed, I believe that both of your companies are so well positioned because there is probably almost every type of job out there that you could accommodate, whether it be an electrician, a carpenter, a policeman, an IT person, and so on. I think you are well positioned to help our veterans, no matter what their skills, expertise, and training. It is positive.

I have a couple of questions. Both witnesses can certainly answer. Mr. Wajda, you talked about your scholarship program. I would like you to elaborate a little bit on the scholarship program that you have. Ms. Joanis, if you have something similar to that, please jump in as well. Could you expand a little bit on the scholarships that you have for either the veterans or their families?

Mr. Wajda: That one was announced by our CO, Fred Green, back in November, I think, of last year. The Lord Strathcona's Horse Regiment has had a long history with CP, since almost its inception. In the scholarship program, we have money put aside that veterans coming in through that regiment can apply for. It is not just a scholarship but also helps to transition once they decide to leave the military. The applications come through HR, from my department, and then we look at them and determine what amount we want to give those individuals. If they have children who are going into post-secondary education, we have a whole bunch of different scholarships, but that one is specifically targeted for veterans coming in. Even if they are in the army and they want to have their children expand their further education, we have funds set aside to provide scholarships for those individuals. They have to apply through the company. It comes through HR, and then we make the determination. We have set money aside for that.

Senator Plett: Does CN have any similar program?

Nancy Villeneuve, Sourcing Manager, Canadian National (CN): We have scholarships available to our employees and their children, but nothing formal for the military. We have one for First Nations and one for women in non- traditional roles, but nothing specific, at the moment, for veterans.

Senator Plett: You talked, Ms. Joanis, about your training programs of three months and three weeks, respectively. Could you tell me a little more about the training program? Is that geared to veterans or simply an overall training program?

Ms. Joanis: Overall training programs. For example, to become a conductor, you can come in with a high school diploma, and we will train you to become a conductor. In terms of the skills we require for doing that job, there is a lot of safety consciousness. That is why, in terms of recruiting veterans, the training is made that much easier because they go by railcars and locomotives and are not impressed by these kinds of assets, whereas some people, like you and me, could be. The training is not tailored to veterans; the training is offered to new hires at CN. There is training on the mechanical skills side and on the engineering side, both for the tracks or for signals, as well as on the operational side. For the vast majority of our positions, we will train people to occupy the jobs that we have.

Senator Plett: You both want to expand your workforce. Well, maybe not expand; maybe, through attrition, it might stay even. You certainly both want to hire a lot of employees in the next while. You have some great programs here. When you advertise, do you give preferential treatment to veterans? If I come in alongside a veteran, would you simply give the veteran the position? In my case, he might be better-qualified. Would you just simply hire the best- qualified person for the job, or do you give some preferential treatment to vets?

Mr. Wajda: I will start with that one. We sign two agreements, one with CIVISERVE and one with Forces@work. I cannot speak for CN, but I understand their business quite well. A lot of our positions just require high school graduation. If you are going to be a civil engineer, then obviously you need an engineering degree. However, a lot of our positions basically require high school diplomas, college, or whatever. When they come through CIVISERVE or Forces@work and they have the credentials, we guarantee that they will get an interview. Then they are put in with the regular mix. Obviously, when people just have high school, we look at all of their previous work experience and how it relates to heavy industry. We are heavy industry. We work around moving equipment. There are a lot of manual tasks involved. Obviously, the military has a lot of that. If it is an individual from signals and communications, they would be more suited for signals and communication. We are always looking, as a company, for whoever has the skills. If the skills match, we would rather have that than prolong the training. If we have a mechanic who comes in from the military and has already worked on diesel equipment, the only training we have to do is how it works on a diesel locomotive. There are some subtle differences versus a diesel truck.

That kind of training speeds up our process, and, obviously, those people would get preferential treatment to someone who is an auto mechanic, for example. We look at that. We look at their skill sets and match them to the positions we have. If a veteran has the skills, they will probably float to the top because their skills apply more to the work we are looking at.

Ms. Joanis: There is no specific preferential treatment, but their experience speaks for itself. As Mr. Wajda said, in terms of experience, their CVs will get to the top of the pile.

Senator Plett: I have a question about disabled veterans. We have had a number of soldiers come back from Afghanistan with serious injuries who may want to continue working but are having difficulties. Do you have programs that cater to disabled veterans?

Mr. Wajda: As a federal employer, we have to look at disabilities. There are some jobs that would be very difficult for a disabled person to perform. Safety-sensitive and safety-critical jobs such as running trains and rail traffic control require visual acuity and certain skills. However, there are many jobs at CP that are being done by disabled persons, although not necessarily veterans. We employ people who are blind or missing limbs as a result of accidents. We do accommodate people with disabilities. If they have the right skill set, there is no issue.

Ms. Joanis: That is true for CN as well.

Senator Plett: I am very happy with your programs.

Senator Day: Welcome and thank you for being here, and thank you for the pin.

Mr. Wajda, how many of CP's 15,000 employees are in Canada?

Mr. Wajda: About 13,000.

Senator Day: So CN has a much larger presence in the United States than does CP.

Mr. Wajda: We do.

Senator Day: Have either of you had any relationship with the Canadian Forces Liaison Council? Are you aware of that organization?

Mr. Wajda: I am not.

Ms. Joanis: No.

Senator Day: Did Veterans Affairs talk to you, or how did you establish some of these special considerations for veterans? How did that come about, other than the Lord Strathcona relationship?

Mr. Wajda: The military contacted us at CP. I believe that was through work that Fred Green had done with the military and Lord Strathcona. They knew through publications. People contacted us with these job sites, and we said that it was not a problem.

Referencing one of Ms. Joanis's recommendations, that is one area of difference between Canada and the U.S. The U.S. musters many of their people in certain locations, so it is much easier to get to those sites, whereas we do not see that from an industry point of view. Where do we go; who do we contact. In the U.S. the process is much more user- friendly from an employer's point of view. We can list our jobs and talk to applicants and to military liaison people and so on. We do not see it as being that clear. Maybe it is, but it is not that public, so we do not understand it.

Senator Day: Who organizes that in the U.S.? Is it the military or a veterans affairs type of organization?

Mr. Wajda: The military does it. I am not sure if it is veterans affairs, but they muster the people in certain locations to leave, and when they bring them back they give them a lot of debrief training.

I was at a conference in the U.S. where I learned that when military personnel come back they are given a lot of psychological assessments and training because of the issues of post-traumatic stress disorder. Based on the papers I have read, our veterans are experiencing the same problems.

They bring them into certain locations and provide them cultural training and training on day-to-day sensitivities. They all take driving lessons, for example, because in Iran and Afghanistan they drive down the middle of the road, and fast, so many of them get speeding tickets when they are back home. You can go to the mustering points and recruit there, but it is primarily done through the army. They have much better liaison than we have.

Senator Day: Ms. Villeneuve or Ms. Joanis, do you have any comment in relation to that service that is being offered?

Ms. Villeneuve: I believe the Joining Forces initiative that came out of the White House at the end of last year and took form at the beginning of this year is very helpful in that it enables employers, the media and the government to come together with formal commitments and new tools and ways of connecting. It is that bringing together in a more formal environment that is helping us recruit in a very efficient way, which is what brought us to our recommendations for here as well. We want to bring everyone together into a more organized environment.

Ms. Joanis: To answer the first part of your question, it is part of CN's sourcing strategy of reach out to veterans. Because of the similarity of the work that the military does, it is very valuable to us from both a training and a retention perspective.

Senator Day: Is it a win-win situation.

Ms. Joanis: Very much so.

Senator Day: You are happy to have personnel who are already trained as they fit in nicely. We are happy to hear that you find them to be good employees.

Ms. Joanis: They are very much so.

Senator Day: I would appreciate getting your recommendations at the end, and we will do more thinking about that. Is much of that developed through your exposure to other jurisdictions like the United States, or is it just from history here in Canada?

Ms. Joanis: By seeing what exists in the U.S. we know what could be developed in Canada. For example, we were not aware of the organization to which you referred.

Senator Day: The Canadian Forces Liaison Council is designed to get employers to support the reserve Armed Forces by allowing them to take training days or leaves of absence, for example.

Ms. Joanis: We will reach out to them.

Ms. Villeneuve: One interesting way of getting a sense of what veterans are thinking is through social media. Through sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook you can get the pulse of what people are thinking. Many of the ideas for the sourcing strategy actually come from the veterans themselves. Keeping a finger on the pulse is a very important part of developing strategy.

Senator Day: Have you noticed any increase in the last 10 years of employees who have had military experience with post-traumatic stress problems? Is that a growing problem within your employment group?

Mr. Wajda: I have not seen it. I was at a conference late last year in the U.S. that the U.S. military attended, and they are seeing it, but we have not seen it in Canada.

Senator Day: You are aware of it and keeping an eye out for it, but you have not seen it.

Mr. Wajda: Exactly.

Ms. Joanis: I am not aware of any cases.

The Chair: Are you aware of something called SCAN, Second Career Assistance Network, that provides information to all military personnel before they retire?

Mr. Wajda: I am not.

Ms. Joanis: No.

The Chair: It is supposed to be the instrument of transition for regular force members who are in the normal process of retirement. They are educated on all things, including employment opportunities.


Senator Nolin: I would like to go back to the matter of the efforts that the federal government could make to encourage the work you are being urged to do, as I listen to you today. What more could the federal government — the Department of National Defence as an example — do to support you in the efforts you are being asked to make?


Ms. Joanis: Of the five recommendations that CN has put forward, the first one about having an official online site would be very helpful. We have seen some hesitation from military members regarding posting their CV online. There are different ways of posting CVs and keeping confidentiality. Not everyone wants to put their name beside all the things they have done for the country or their work, but having one recognized site so that people know that is the place to go to post their name confidentially is important. They would act as translators for that person’s experience.

Having a body of knowledgeable liaison that can connect the military background to what the businesses are looking for would be very helpful. Not everyone understands the different titles and the experience gained in the military. By educating either the employers or a service, it would help us tremendously. It would also help veterans as they are putting forward their CV or going to interviews to translate the experience that they gain into valuable experience for businesses.


Senator Nolin: I would like to go back to the question of wounded veterans. Senator Day put his finger on the one of the problems affecting soldiers and veterans, a problem that traditionally scares employers. It is the whole question of operational stress.

All three of you answered in the negative. So you have no veterans working for you who might be suffering from that kind of injury.

Let me ask you the question in a different way. According to your military hiring criteria, are there any that would prevent a veteran who could possibly be identified as suffering from a mental illness from getting a job with you? This is an arm of the federal Parliament, so you can use whichever of the official languages you prefer.

Ms. Joanis: So let me use French to say no. In all of our tests, no psychometric test evaluates the candidates' mental conditions. The selection processes would not detect people in that situation.

Senator Nolin: If you were looking at a candidate's medical file, let us say, and you found out that he had that kind of injury, which we and the military are increasingly regarding as every bit a wound as one from a bullet or a shell, what would you do?

Ms. Joanis: It comes down to the same thing. In the hiring process for unionized positions, for example, everyone has a medical. The results of that medical are never passed to the applicant. As a recruiter, the only thing I have to know is whether the person is capable of doing the job.

For example, anyone found to be colour-blind could not do the job because they have to be able to recognize the signals. But I do not know the reason. I am simply told that the person cannot work in that position. As a recruiter, I never know a candidate's medical condition. No doctor determines whether a person has the skills to do the job.


Senator Nolin: Now I would like to have your experience in the U.S. because they have similar concerns.

Mr. Wajda: To Ms. Joanis' point, I have occupational health services in my group. Some jobs require medical; some do not. If they do not require medical, the person comes right in and we hire based on reference checks, and so on. If an individual does have medical conditions that could impact their ability to do the work properly, we have a chief medical officer, as required by Transport Canada, and so on, that reviews the medical conditions and makes a determination if that person is fit or not. It is not a recruiter or HR; it is an actual medical doctor who looks at it. They can go back to their personal physician and ask more questions and get clarifications.

In the U.S., it is not much different. For example, Ms. Joanis was talking about colour vision. It is the same in the U.S. In the U.S., our company does more physical abilities testing to ensure that individuals can lift and pull and so on for the job than we do in Canada. The conditions are more stringent in the U.S. for the positions than they are in Canada at the present time.

Senator Nolin: To your knowledge, mental fitness is not a requirement?

Mr. Wajda: No. However, if something comes on a file that the individual's personal physician, or the doctors, or the company that is doing our medicals on a contract basis for pre-employment, that will go to our corporate physicians. The corporate physician will talk with the employee and will get additional information to make assessment. At the present time, there is nothing there that identifies a mental illness as an issue that prevents an individual from having that job.

Senator Nolin: My concern is not about being aware of something; it is what you will do the moment you will be informed of that reality. Are you going to treat that veteran the same way you are going to treat someone who was hit by a bullet?

Mr. Wajda: We are going to treat the veteran the same way we are going to treat any employee who comes up for a medical and has a condition that comes to our understanding. We will go through our corporate physician for determination. It does not matter who the individual is. If there is a medical condition that prevents that employee from having that job, it does not matter if he is a veteran, or myself, or whoever. They will not get that job or they will be asked for further information to make an informed decision.

It does not matter if it is a veteran or not. We are not discriminating against anyone. If they have a medical condition, it is reviewed by our medical facility and they will make the determination.

The Chair: The chair would like the opportunity of asking a couple of questions as we have time for a second round.

Let us go just a little farther. We have veterans. Apart from your working with Lord Strathcona through the hiring agencies, you really do not have a policy that specifically seeks out veterans and has created an opportunity for their employment, versus the general population. If I understand correctly, CN has a policy for the hiring of Aboriginal people and women but not for veterans. Am I correct with that?

Ms. Joanis: You are asking as to whether or not there is a —

The Chair: Specific policy that you will be seeking to employ veterans, as you have with women, with Aboriginal people, and so on.

Ms. Joanis: The sourcing strategy that we have is to recruit the best candidate possible. We are looking at increasing our reach to reach out to more veterans because we do believe and we know that their experience has a good fit with us.

The Chair: It is not a hiring priority, but it is a source of excellent candidates that you have identified and will pursue; is that correct?

Ms. Joanis: Yes.

The Chair: Are you expanding beyond Lord Strathcona because it is only one regiment amongst a couple hundred?

Mr. Wajda: Both Ms. Joanis and Ms. Villeneuve said "where do we go.'' We are having difficulty finding out where to go within the Armed Forces to find these individuals.

When people come to us with a website, we say we will do it; however, we have not been able to navigate within the Armed Forces to say here is a source of individuals. I do not necessarily want a source, but I want to be able to put my positions out there somehow so people can look at them, understand what our jobs are and then apply for them. Right now we are having difficulty. Fifteen years ago there was not as big of an issue as people coming back now, so we understand that, and we are having difficulty trying to figure out how to get in there.

The Chair: We are speaking of veterans. We also have reservists, another case we have studied separately. We could go into that if we had time, but as we are speaking about veterans and you have spoken about the Canadian Forces and are trying to find them, what has Veterans Canada done in its responsibilities in regards to assisting members find employment? You also indicated that you help find employment for spouses too, I believe, or something that was identified. Am I correct there?

Ms. Joanis: When I spoke about the spouses, it was in terms of their eligibility to use our services with regard to the Employee and Family Assistance Program.

The Chair: What about Veterans Canada? Have they been more forthcoming in providing the information that you just told us is not readily available from the Canadian Forces?

Ms. Villeneuve: We found out from Veterans Affairs that Right Management had the mandate to help to transition the veterans to a civilian life by offering classes on how to do your resumé, et cetera, and also the ability to post jobs and try to connect one on one. It is just a slightly longer process.

The Chair: What about the Veterans administration in the United States? Do they have a particular policy in regards to helping veterans find employment?

Ms. Villeneuve: With the Joining Forces initiative from the White House, a lot of energy is put in to helping I think it is 100,000 veterans and spouses find employment. They have been reaching out to employers but also media such as Indeed and Google who have then created environments where both employers and veterans can connect and find jobs.

As we gave an example from Indeed, if you go to, there are hundreds of thousands of resumés online, free for the veteran to post and the employers to find. As they are going forward, more and more of the media community are also being engaged in committing themselves to find innovative ways of connecting both employers and veterans.

The Chair: National Defence, the Canadian Forces has a director of individual training that is mandated to do Canadian Forces accreditation programs and also civilian equivalencies. Have any of them ever provided information to you, or have you been able to access that information at all? No?

Mr. Wajda: No.

Ms. Joanis: No.

The Chair: Going back to your employee who was employed and has been injured on the job, what methodology do you have in regard to handling that employee? I will extrapolate that to go along where Senator Nolin was. If we have injured veterans who are injured in one way but not in other capabilities, would you see your companies looking at a policy of trying to employ in a sort of priority basis injured veterans and finding them employment within your organization to meet with the government and what the Human Rights Commission says of employing or hiring people with disabilities?

Mr. Wajda: I will start because the occupational health services return-to-work and all of WCB falls under me also. We have an employee that is injured at work, so it is a work-related injury. They obviously go on to workmen's compensation.

The Chair: That is provincial, right?

Mr. Wajda: It is provincial. Every board is different but they are all somewhat the same. They all pay a percentage of wages and so on. That is fairly expensive for all companies. We have a return-to-work route that once we find out what the injury is we try to find out what the restrictions are. There are a couple of paths we take.

If they are temporary restrictions, we will try to accommodate the individual in the job, change the job. It is always in our best interests to get the person back to what he was doing, so we will try to modify the job and get him back to work rather than sitting at home. If it becomes a permanent injury, say it is an amputation or something like that, and he cannot work in his chosen field, we will look at the disability. If it is a permanent disability, we will look at accommodating that individual. We will possibly move him, look at other jobs within his work area or location or city or province. He will have to make a determination whether he wants to move or not.

We will work down both streams. We have temporary accommodations for individuals who have been injured at work to try to get them back in the workforce because it is much more beneficial to the employee to get back to work than to sit at home, and if they are permanent disabilities, then we look at the system, the whole thing in Canada, and we try to bring the individual back to his skill sets. We have accommodated many people with disabilities in call centres, for example. You can set up a system at home and they can phone and manage it that way.

However, if the individual was a locomotive engineer or conductor and somehow had an unfortunate accident and cannot get into the locomotive, then we look at doing something different, or if there is nothing in the company, through the WCB act we would pay for that individual to be retrained into something so he can go and get other work external to the company.

The Chair: The company will pay?

Mr. Wajda: Oh, yes. We are a Schedule 2 employer, so we pay dollar for dollar plus an administration fee. For pretty much anyone who gets injured, it is revenue coming out of the firm. We will get people retrained depending on the injury and what the individual's skill sets are. They might be able to find a job closer to themselves, and then they leave the company and go elsewhere.

The Chair: Is there anything specific on injured veterans?

Mr. Wajda: They will be treated exactly the same way as anyone else. If an injured veteran comes in with a disability, under the employment standards we do not discriminate against people with disabilities. They have to have the skill set to do the job.

The Chair: And you find that.

Mr. Wajda: We find that, yes.


The Chair: Ms. Joanis?

Ms. Joanis: Ditto.

The Chair: The same thing, then.

At this point, I am going to start the second round of questions, if I may.


Senator Plett: I have only a follow-up to Senator Nolin's line of questioning. Ms. Joanis, you mentioned that you do not see a person's medical records when you are hiring. A doctor sees them, or whoever.

If someone applies for a job as a signalman, obviously, a person cannot be colour-blind. I understand that. If it is determined that he or she is colour-blind, there is a host of other things that person could be capable of doing. Do you simply get a report back saying, "Sorry, this person does not qualify,'' or do you get a report saying this person qualifies for this and this and this?

Ms. Joanis: The second alternative. There are positions with requirements. In some cases we will ask for the candidate to not be colour-blind, so we will then tell the candidate that he cannot apply to these positions but that there is a host of other positions he could certainly apply for. As a recruiter, I do not see his medical. I just get to see three things, but the candidate knows because the candidate has been spoken to.

Senator Plett: The candidate knows he did not get the job because he is colour-blind?

Ms. Joanis: Exactly. That was a requirement, so there is a test that measures that, and he will be told he did not pass that specific test. The candidates are fully aware of the reasons for which they are not accepted for medical conditions. It is the same thing if they do not pass our background check. I will never know the reason, if he had gone to prison or something else, but the individual will be told the reason. He knows the reason in this case.

Senator Plett: Would CP have a similar situation?

Mr. Wajda: Very similar.

Senator Plett: I have one final question in this area. I do not want to paint anybody with a bad brush here, but there are some organizations that offer different treatment, and firefighters may be one of them, with respect to physical requirements, women versus men or possibly Aboriginal people not having to meet the same rigorous requirements. Do your railways or railroads have those types of situations? If someone needs to be able to lift a certain amount of weight, would it matter what gender they were? Would they all have to pass the same type of test?

Mr. Wajda: Yes. In the U.S., we partner with many of the big Class 1 railroads and we have developed physical ability testing. One area we have looked at is primarily for conductors because they have to walk quite a distance and hang off the side of the cars. There are a whole bunch of issues they have to deal with. They have something called a knuckle that they might have to replace, for example, which weighs 100 pounds.

These tests were developed to simulate that work. They go through the medical, and then they have to go through the physical abilities test. We do not necessarily have that in Canada, but occasionally people will have to lift a 100- pound piece of metal to get on the train. We will not discriminate against anyone; they just have to be able to do that task.

Ms. Joanis: CN piloted a physical ability test in both the U.S. and Canada, and we are considering putting that forward. We are clear in the requirements in that we had a third party help us build the test. We are cognizant of ensuring it does not discriminate against women.

Senator Plett: Mr. Chair, I know that you will in your capacity as chair thank our witnesses formally, but I would like to say that if this is a lead-in to the types of witnesses we will hear from in the future, I think we will have an excellent report. Thank you.

The Chair: I would like a follow-up, if I may. Oh, Senator Day, do you have a follow-up?

Senator Day: I can wait. Go ahead.


Senator Nolin: I would like to keep going along the same lines. There is no discrimination, but is there any affirmative action? That is, with those with disabilities, with female staff, with Aboriginals, you do not have that kind of policy?

Ms. Joanis: No. In terms of our recruitment strategy, we seek more exposure in certain communities. But in terms of the criteria, everyone is the same.

Senator Nolin: I understand, but you make specific efforts to reach different segments of the population that, right from the start, would not contain your traditional clientele?

Ms. Joanis: Exactly.

Senator Nolin: I understand. So perhaps the word "discrimination'' is not appropriate, but you undertake specific actions for groups of individuals, which may include Aboriginals, women, the disabled.

Ms. Joanis: Yes.

The Chair: Are you aware that there is a policy of recruiting women and that the armed forces now have a greater proportion of women with those skills? Are you going to target those women specifically?

Ms. Joanis: We have a hard time reaching them at the moment.

Senator Nolin: Yes, if we put in place the programs they are asking for.

The Chair: The question cuts both ways. That is to say, yes, we recognize perfectly well that the government has no methodology for selling its product, but the same goes for you when it comes to having to sell your product to potential recruits?

Ms. Joanis: Exactly.


Senator Day: I think one of the most important perspectives that you can bring is that you operate both in Canada and in the United States, and you are bringing us a comparison that we do not normally hear about. If there is anything else that flows from our line of questioning that you think could be helpful to us, do not hesitate to send it to the clerk, and it will be circulated to all of us.

Ms. Villeneuve, you mentioned the Joining Forces. I do not know if I should take you literally when you talk about the White House. Is this an initiative of the President and the President's office?

Ms. Villeneuve: Yes.

Senator Day: That is interesting. We tend to think in terms of ministries like Veterans Affairs and the Department of National Defence, but this is out of the President's office?

Ms. Villeneuve: Yes. The First Lady has been the voice of this. There is actually a website that has both the information and all the official commitments from every employer, such as how many people they want to hire, et cetera, as well as media opportunities. It is a detailed site, and it certainly provides insight into what everyone is doing in the U.S.

Senator Day: Excellent. When you send us a note, if you decide to do so, from the point of view of the manner in which you treat reservists who are employees of yours, if it is different in the United States than in Canada, I think we would be interested in hearing from you on that regarding paid leave, that kind of thing, if you have a policy that is different from one to the other.

Mr. Wajda: We can provide you our policy; it is not a big deal.

Ms. Joanis: Yes. There are policies for of leave of absence, in order for them to go to the training site. They can go for up to 30 days, for example.


Senator Nolin: We want to know whether you accommodate the reality of the reservists. If so, how do you do it?

Senator Day: And whether there is a difference between the United States and Canada.

Ms. Joanis: It is different. Their reality is different from ours.

Senator Nolin: That is what we wanted to know.


The Chair: To conclude, the President as the Commander-in-Chief has a different perspective. However, our Governor General is our Commander-in-Chief, and it would be interesting to see how they might engage.

If I may, I come back to the injured person. You have a veteran who has presented himself to be recruited for a job, he is injured, he does the evaluation and the evaluation says he is not qualified to do that job. Do you treat that recruit in a way that they can find another potential job within your firm? Specifically, if it is a veteran, would you go that extra mile in ensuring that happens, or is it just a general policy throughout?

Mr. Wajda: For us, we have not had a lot of veterans apply, to be honest with you. If an individual has a great skill set, we will look to see if we can find them a position elsewhere because skills are tough to find nowadays, as everyone knows. It is not in our best interests to say, "Just because you cannot do this job, out the door you go.'' If this guy has a good skill set but did not pass the medical, we will personally provide a bunch of different options for that individual and that individual can choose by location, profession, so on and so forth.

If the individual is a veteran, if we know they are a veteran — you have to look at the resumé as sometimes they may have been out for a while or whatever. We have to look at that and then determine if they have the right skill sets for a job.

Ms. Joanis: The only thing I would say is that with the reality of the environment we work in, there are fewer opportunities depending on what the injury is, obviously, given the physical requirements of the positions.

The Chair: You have jobs in headquarters and so on, however. Is that correct?

Ms. Joanis: Yes.

The Chair: In the end, the hiring of veterans is not a policy point. It is, however, a source that you have recognized by what you have described as probably a great place to find. Because it is such a great place to find — you have said so yourself — and we know we have a lot of veterans now who are transitioning into civilian life, do you see your policies changing to be far more aggressive or even specific in seeking out veterans in the future? You are into a pretty heavy hiring period right now.

Mr. Wajda: Much of the military lifestyle is very similar to the railway lifestyle in that they move around, they are away from home and so on and so forth.

As Ms. Joanis and Ms. Villeneuve have said, if there was a way that we could access them easily, we would definitely be there. We are using these boards right now, and if there were more accessibility, I think it would be better for everyone, not just CN and CP, but for corporations in Canada, plus better for the veterans. However, right now, it just does not seem to mix. There are no clear linkages on where we should go and how we find these individuals.

The Chair: There is no need to try to identify them as a specific group to prioritize because, in fact, you are seeking them out, but the information flow is not there. That is an incredible deficiency. Thank you very much.

I would like to pass on, on behalf of my colleagues, our condolences to CN for the recent loss of your three engineers in their line of duty. We understand very much your loss, both as an organization losing comrades and also to the families. We hope that the firm is well structured to help them as they go through their bereavement.

Thank you very much. You have been most enlightening, and we are most appreciative of your coming today and being quite candid with us.

We will now go in camera for a couple of minutes to review our trip and trip report.

(The committee continued in camera.)

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