The military announced amendments Wednesday to the new relocation model after members voiced their concerns over a number of issues they had run into over the last few weeks.
Most significantly, as a short-term solution, the decision was made to revert to sending Electronic Funds Transfers directly into a member’s bank account for any new requests of funds to cover relocation expenses. This change is expected to take place by the end of the week.
Members who have currently incurred any expenses related to the Relocard will be compensated and are advised to the keep receipts, according to a message sent out Wednesday evening by MGen. Wayne Eyre, Deputy Commander Military Personnel Command.
“There are few things that we do in the Canadian Armed Forces that are more stressful on our families than relocations. We are committed to improving the relocation experience for our members and will continue to work with our partners to improve the service delivery model while concurrently modernizing our relocation benefits packages,” ”said Eyre in his statement.
It’s been just over three months since the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) rolled out its new relocation model and frustrations have been mounting for those members, and their families, who are the first to test out the new system.
From the Relocard to booking moves to how the new interface itself works, questions are cropping up on all fronts.
Frustrated by the lack of information, Capt. (ret’d) Tanya Strembiski decided to write to her Bay of Quinte Member of Parliament Neil Ellis.
“I am retired. I have no chain of command. I have nobody to voice my complaints to,” said Strembiski, who was medically released this year and is currently in the process of her Intended Place of Residence (IPR) posting.
According to Strembiski, the problems started right from the get-go when she logged into BGRS’ new online portal.
“When you first sign into the system there are these video presentations that are there, and there are these facts sheets, they call them Relofacts, and you start reading these, and you’re thinking: ‘okay I know all of this. I’ve been posted four times before. I know this stuff.’ And you start going through it, and then they just stop. It’s a great little introduction to the posting world, being posted, but it doesn’t explain how the site works itself,” said Strembiski, adding that there’s no direction on how to create claims or expenses on the site itself.
When she tried to reach out for answers, she says they were mostly canned responses.
The biggest issue, however, for many military members and their families have been the Relocards, a reloadable, declining, balance “cash card.” The card was intended to be used for every expense related to the move from restaurants, hotels, appraisals to paying lawyers.
Many Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, however, found that card was not accepted at a number of locations. They’ve also ran into issues when it comes to paying for larger transactions, including lawyer fees. Since many lawyers don’t accept VISA, members had to resort to Direct Funds Transfers. A DFT has a surcharge of 1.5 per cent that was forced upon the member to pay out-of-pocket. For larger transactions, this meant that members were paying hundreds out of pocket for the surcharge.
According to the CAF, these fees were not transparent when the contract was implemented, and according to the contract BGRS is contractually obligated to cover these fees.
After being made aware of these issues, the Director General Compensation and Benefits team has been meeting with Public Services and Procurement Canada to resolve the issues and “hold BGRS to the contract and to ensure members and their families are not out of pocket for the fees.”
Hence, the decision was made to revert to the aspects of the old system when it comes to EFTs.
As changes to the program start to take effect, Strembiski recommends that all members and their families take the time to familiarize themselves with the new system, first and foremost.
“When you sign in, go through every presentation, every Relofact sheet and get comfortable with it. You don’t have to know the entire directive, but you should know where to find stuff and what applies to you,” commented Strembiski.
Along these lines, she recommends members become familiar with the Compensation and Benefits instructions, so they do not miss out on any benefits they are entitled to.
And, most importantly, Strembiski recommends that members keep their chain-of-command advised on any and all issues they might face with the new system.
To find a complete list of Compensation and Benefits click here (http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/caf-community-benefits/cbi-benefits.page)
To voice any concerns with the new relocation model, reach out to the Director Relocation Business Management email.
Stay tuned to cmfmag.ca as we continue to follow this story.