In May 2014 the Canadian Forces introduced the surprising notion that CF members should first alert the chain of command of their intention to grieve a certain matter by filing a Notice of Intent to Grieve. What is more surprising is that increasingly CF members are agreeing with such a procedure which is most clearly to the overwhelming advantage of the chain of command.
Although this new procedure is advertised as being “a voluntary process”, truth be told most CF members sees this as a required pre-requisite step which, out of loyalty and respect for the chain of command, should be observed. That is clearly wrong and more often than not it works to the detriment of the CF grievor.
What many CF members fail to understand is that there is NO obligation on the part of the Chain of Command to respond in any way to a Notice of Intent to Grieve. None. In our experience, they often do not even acknowledge receipt.
In our practice, we see many potential CF grievors who have been disappointed to find out (often too late)that the time limit to submit a grievance (now 3 months – per art. 7.06 of the QR&Os) is not, repeat not, suspended by the submission of the said Notice of Intent to Grieve. As a result, many of them find themselves in the unenviable position of having submitted a Notice of Intent to Grieve and have allowed the 3-month time limit to run out before submitting their actual grievance losing along the way their “right to grieve.”
The statutory Right to Grieve belongs to the individual CF member not the chain of command. That statutory Right to Grieve is, in several instances, the only avenue open to a serving CF member to obtain redress. Consequently, the Right to Grieve should not be interfered with in any manner which diminishes if not impairs the potential effectiveness of such a right. Had the legislator intended in 2013 to have grievor provide the chain of command with notice prior to submitting a grievance they would have included such a requirement in Bill C-15. They did not. There is therefore no legal obligation to do so and we do not recommend that this voluntary procedure be adhere to by CF grievors.
In conclusion, there is no necessity or utility in law for a CF member to give notice of his intention to grieve. As a result of amendments enacted on 19 June 2013 via Bill C-15 the time limit to submit a grievance was shortened from SIX to THREE months. Such a constrained time period already provides a clear benefit to the chain of command.T That time limit should not be further reduced or compressed by providing the chain of command with an advance notice of one’s intention to grieve.