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Compensation and Benefits changes creating much discussion among CF members and families

Military and spousal forums on the net have been rampant recently with discussions on how families are going to cope with more changes to the Compensation and Benefits for CF members and their families on Sept. 1st.

All in the name of streamlining benefits so that others may receive the benefits that are needed more at this time, the Canadian Government is not shying away from the reality that we, as a country are in the middle of hard times financially. With requirements changing for soldiers, families and their needs, military and government say something has to be adjusted to accommodate for those changes while maintaining a strong Canadian Force.

Who makes these decisions? Is there any recourse at this time? Do they really consider the soldiers and family when making these changes? Brigadier General Matthew Overton, Assistant Chief Military Personnel wanted an opportunity to clarify these and other issues with the change in CANFORGEN.

‘It’s hard times for Canada and a hard time for Canadians, which means there’s going to be difficult decisions for government,” said Overton. “So we’ve looked at that, and what we have is the government approved and discussed changes to the Compensation and Benefits for the Canadian Forces in this particular area. That’s a Treasury Board approved measure and we are now responsible for implementing it.”

“We think this is the right measure to apply to support families managing the transition from one duty location to another and support the idea that families are together. With the announcement in early August for implementation in September, we realize this is going to have an impact on our soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, and special forces operators, all our personnel. That was anticipated in that the decisions they have made on how to orchestrate their lives with consequences of where their duty location is. We also have to look at the impact on the Forces as well; how we go about moving people around the country in terms of how we do that because we have alternatives available in terms of temporary duty, attached posting, as well as posting.”

Brigadier General Overton was very frank when talking about families and how the CF wants to keep families together, having been through many moves with his own family during his career. While supporting initiatives over the past 10 years, due to the results of the 1998 SCONDVA report that saw families requiring more support as a unit and ill and injured soldiers’ benefits. There are initiatives supported through the Family Resource Center and Personnel Support to help families adjust and resources there that can help on many levels..

Suggested options include, porting your mortgage, and using moving expenses on Canadian taxes. There are also various support mechanisms for those who qualify through service loans and the Military Family criteria.

“There’s no doubt that this latest change is going to cause some difficulty and in some situations (personnel will) get less money, but have a strong Compensation and Benefit network, when you look at the pay, and the allowances, the entitlements, which really does a good job at supporting people at the current duty location and whether it’s through deployment across Canada, it is a reality that’s really good to keep in front of our eyes. That overall package has significantly improved over the past 10 years, especially in terms of supporting our ill and injured soldiers, through resources such as the Family Resource Centers,” he said.

With new policies affecting everyone on an individual level, the list of changes below should help identify what’s coming on September 1st.

The following programs and policies are where resources are being streamlined:

  • Separation benefits for personnel living apart from their families
  • Some eligibility and entitlements for Reservists
  • Some benefits and reimbursements under the CF Integration Relocation Program (CFIRP) and Compensation and Benefit Instructions (CBI) 208

SEPARATION EXPENSE BENEFIT

Separation Expense (SE) – Amendment to Separation Expense Meals Benefit

  •   F members are currently entitled to a meal allowance and incidental expenses when rations are not available. When rations are available, they are currently provided at no cost to the member.
  • Regardless of whether CF members are with or are separated from their families and household goods, they should not be paid for their meals as this is a cost they would incur at home.
  • To ensure that only core military requirements and the operational readiness of the CF are directly supported, the daily allowance for meals and incidental expenses will be eliminated.

Amending Eligibility to Separation Expense (For Reservists)

  • The Separation Expense benefit is compensation for additional expenses incurred as a result of the separation from a CF member’s normal place of residence.
  • This benefit is currently applicable to some Regular Force, Class B and C Reserve Force Personnel.
  • With the changes, Separation Expense entitlement will only apply to Regular Force and Reserve Force personnel on Class C who are relocated as a result of service requirements.
  • The CF do not impose postings on Class B Reservists: members elect to apply and follow through with a specific contract or not. If they decide to be separated from their family, they will do so on their own initiative. However, should they decide to move their dependants, they are still entitled to full relocation benefits, similar to Regular Force personnel.

TRANSPORTATION ASSISTANCE FOR RESERVISTS
Restructuring the transportation assistance for Reservists

  • The transportation assistance benefit exists to encourage participation of Class A Reservists in an area where Reserve Units are not close to bigger urban centres.
  • The current benefit assists both Class A and Class B Reservists in subsidising transportation costs for those who travel beyond 16 kilometres to their place of training or duty.
  • The CF do not impose postings on Class B Reservists. Members elect to apply and follow through with a specific contract or not
  • As such, a revision limits this benefit to Class A Reserve members.

CANADIAN FORCES INTEGRATION RELOCATION PROGRAM (CFIRP) BENEFITS

Canadian Forces Integration Relocation Program (CFIRP) Benefit – Mortgage Breaking Penalties no longer applicable/ CBI 208.96

  • Mortgage breaking fees can be equivalent to several months of interest or a percentage of interest remaining on the term.
  • The CF wish to encourage members to obtain portable mortgages which incur no such fees or limited fees.
  • CF members, in preparing for the length of the anticipated posting, will have to better coordinate mortgage terms.
  • This benefit will no longer apply.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Extended House Hunting Trip (HHT) Benefit (and related benefits)

  • An extended HHT adds up to four additional days and nights as a customized benefit (includes Dependant care, vehicle rentals, etc).
  • To ensure that only core military requirements and the operational readiness of the CF are directly supported, this benefit will be reimbursed as a personalized benefit.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Pet Care Boarding Costs during HHT Benefit

  • While on HHT, the CF reimburse the commercial boarding of pets as a customized benefit.
  • This benefit will now be reimbursed as a personalized benefit.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Accompanying Pet in Commercial Lodgings at Origin and/or new Place of Duty Benefit

  • Currently the CF reimburse accompanying pet fees in commercial lodgings as a customized benefit during the period that a member is separated from their household goods/effects at origin and/or new place of duty.
  • This benefit will now be reimbursed as a personalized benefit.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Pet Care (Boarding Costs) at Origin and/or new Place of Duty Benefit

  • While in commercial lodgings at origin and/or the new place of duty, the CF reimburse the commercial boarding of pets as a customized benefit.
  • This benefit will now be reimbursed as a personalized benefit.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Accompanying Pet in Commercial Lodgings while Travelling for Relocation Benefit

  • Currently the CF reimburse accompanying pet fees in commercial lodgings as a customized benefit during the period that a member is separated from their household goods/effects while travelling for relocation.
  • This benefit will now be reimbursed as a personalized benefit.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Sale Appraisal Fees Benefit / CBI 208.96

  • Appraisal fees are paid in order to, among other reasons, help establish market value and establish a home value for funding purposes.
  • The CF reimburse the first appraisal as a core benefit, with any additional appraisals being reimbursed as a customized benefit. For moves under CBI 208, only one appraisal is reimbursable.
  • The additional appraisal will be reimbursed as a personalized benefit (not reimbursable under CBI 208 section 8 relocations).

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Disconnection/Connection Fees at Origin and New Place of Duty

  • The CF reimburse the disconnection fees at origin and the connection fees at the new place of duty for appliances and equipment moved at public expense as a core benefit.
  • CF members already receive a CAN$650 movement grant within their personalized benefit component intended to cover these costs.
  • This benefit will now be reimbursed as a personalized benefit.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Postal and Courier Services Benefit

  • The CF currently reimburse Post Office charges such as change of address and mail “hold” service as a core benefit.
  • To ensure that only core military requirements and the operational readiness of the CF are directly supported, this benefit will be reimbursed as a personalized benefit and will be limited to 12 months.

CFIRP Benefit – Amendment to Interest on Home Relocation Loan Benefit

  • The CF reimburse interest on a home relocation loan as a customized benefit. This benefit allows members to buy down the interest on up to CAN$25000 of their mortgage
  • This benefit will now be reimbursed as a personalized benefit.

CFIRP Benefit – Elimination of Mortgage Loan Insurance Benefit

  • The CF currently reimburse mortgage loan insurance expenses and administration fees paid to an insurer when the mortgage is more than the 80 per cent purchase price of the new residence.
  • This benefit will be eliminated. This change better aligns CF benefits with Government of Canada recent mortgage rules emphasising the strengthening of Canada’s Housing market.

Source : Anna Rubaj, MBA
Communications Advisor | Conseillère en communications
CMP and Legal Services | CPM et Services Juridiques
Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs)

(This article is Part one of Two. The second article on this issue will appear in our Holiday edition of CMF Magazine)

By Andrea Edwards-Edwards

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