CEP Policies and Procedures documents
In terms of the CEP Process and Validation Protocol, which was approved by the parties in late August 2007 and received formal court approval in February 2008, the CEP process began with the collection of applicant information, confirming its completeness and performing a preliminary assessment by verifying the applicant's identity against the required identity documents. The validation process itself was guided by eight validation principles, most noteworthy of which being the principle of erring on the side of caution in favour of the applicant. At the heart of the CEP was the validation process, whereby residency at an eligible IRS was confirmed. Created just prior to the launch of the CEP, the validation document was aligned with the guiding principles of the Settlement Agreement and provided a detailed step by step procedure to CEP delivery requirements as defined in the Settlement Agreement. It guided both departments (Service Canada and the OIRSRC) on how to manage claims from former students. Recognizing, however, that the validation of CEP applications posed many complex challenges (namely, the sheer volume of applications and the meeting of service standard requirements) for the Trustee of the CEP funds, which was the Government of Canada, the OIRSRC was meticulous in assembling this document so that it adhered to the Settlement Agreement.
The CEP Process Assessment Protocol dated September 6, 2007, had a significant influence on the final design of internal procedures, on training materials, on conducting the training, on finalizing system workflows, etc. CEP applications went live only 13 days later, on implementation day, September 19, 2007. This date was endorsed by the OIRSRC and the Department of Justice in August 2007 and then subsequently approved by the all-party National Certification Committee, which was the predecessor to the National Administration Committee.
All CEP applications were first automatically assessed by the Computer Assisted Research SystemFootnote 11 (CARS). CARS was an algorithm that searched over one million coded student records stored in the National Research Analysis Unit's CT Summation research document management databaseFootnote 12. It processed over 600 calculations when completing each applicant search, including, for example, noting common phonetic spellings and typical manual typewriter mistypes. It also searched records 10 years on either side of the applicant's stated date range of attendance. CARS made automatic eligibility decisions in about 44 percent of the over 110,000 CEP applications received (the original CARS prototype projected a much higher validation rate).
Where CARS could not make a determination, the CEP application was manually reviewed by the National Research Analysis Unit research staff or a consultant. The basis of the conclusive result of the review was recorded in the Single Access Dispute Resolution EnterpriseFootnote 13 (SADRE) system, including citation of all summation research, if applicable. As set out in the Validation Protocol, an inference and interpolation policy had been adopted to allow confirmation of duration where there were gaps in the IRS records held by the OIRSRC. As well, the Protocol allowed the OIRSRC to make a preliminary assessment by verifying the applicant's identity against the required identity documents.
For many of the former students, the CEP was their entry point into the services provided by the broader Settlement Agreement. To ensure that the spirit of reconciliation and healing, which was the ultimate aim of the Settlement Agreement, was reflected in the delivery of the CEP, the Court approved assessment principles to ensure that every eligible applicant received the correct amount of compensation and that this compensation reached the intended recipients. The assessment was to be fair, objective, timely and practical and, while minimizing the onus placed on applicants, it was to be efficient and executed with a minimum of errors.
When designing the implementation of the Settlement Agreement, the challenge was to ensure a fair and transparent process with solutions for every stakeholder, especially in the light of "missing records" and the extensive CEP-related media coverage. This created a variety of competing requirements and the need to balance these. Moreover, central agencies were also interested in the CEP process and the ultimate outcome of the implementation of the Settlement Agreement. Based on interviews and documents reviewed, CEP officials did their due diligence in order to satisfy the legal requirements to uphold Section 34 accountabilities while balancing the expectations flowing from the CEP assessment principles.
To address the "missing records" question, the OIRSRC hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an audit of records readiness in spring 2007 and which showed that gaps existed in the National Research Analysis Unit's historic record collection. A work plan to locate IRS student records had been implemented throughout late 2006 and much of 2007. This undertaking was concurrent with the CEP design and the work involved churches, provincial and territorial archives, various Indigenous organizations and former students. The audit also prompted the Department to implement inference and interpolation policies that would allow CEP eligibility decisions to be made when there were gaps in records.
The documents reviewed for the Study also clearly showed that the policies and procedures created were aligned with the Settlement Agreement's principles. For example, the Memorandum of Understanding between the OIRSRC and Service Canada conformed to the Settlement Agreement and defined the roles and responsibilities of the two organizations. Two levels of appeals were implemented, the first being Reconsideration, which dealt with applicants who were not satisfied with their claim decision. Where they were dissatisfied with the Reconsideration decision, applicants could appeal to the National Administration Committee. Importantly, the National Administration Committee was composed of members representing the parties identified in the Settlement Agreement and, therefore, acted as a check on the work being undertaken by the OIRSRC. Moreover, the Settlement Agreement clearly defined the guidelines for the CEP's implementation. The content of files and documents reviewed by the Study adhered to the principles. Finally, the Settlement Agreement required the National Administration Committee to produce and implement policy protocol and standard operating procedures documents with respect to the implementation of the Approval Orders.
Interviewees highlighted the enormous effort made by the OIRSRC to ensure that policies and procedures adhered to the principles set out in the Settlement Agreement. Every decision was made in consultation with departmental legal services and there was significant consultation with the National Certification Committee (pre-National Administration Committee), the parties and former students before the framework was finalized. The National Certification Committee, which was the transitional group, had a representative on the National Administration Committee and worked with other lawyers. Several meetings were held to ensure that every process or procedure conformed to the Settlement Agreement.
Finally, Terms and Conditions for Contributions for eligible Aboriginal Organizations for the purpose of providing advocacy and public education on a diverse range of issues related to the Settlement Agreement were also well aligned with the Settlement Agreement. The purpose of the Advocacy and Public Information Program was to inform the public and encourage the sharing of diverse viewpoints on a range of IRS Settlement Agreement issues, policies or programs and thereby allow the Government of Canada to respond to the widest range of information possible This would improve the quality of departmental decisions, identify where changes might be needed to enhance service delivery, and, ultimately, ensure the Indigenous community was well informed of the benefits available through the IRS Settlement Agreement. It was, moreover, essential for all Canadians to understand the Settlement Agreement and the impact that the legacy of the IRS had had on Indigenous communities. The Terms and Conditions also identified all eligible recipients as those defined in the Settlement Agreement who could apply for the CEP.
Based on analyses of the documents and the interviews conducted, it was clear that the Memorandum of Understanding with Service Canada together with the CEP Process and Assessment Protocol and the Advocacy and Public Information Program Terms and Conditions, ensured that the policies and procedures were aligned and respected the key principles defined in the Settlement Agreement and answered the CEP requirements as also defined in the Settlement Agreement.
All key informants agreed that the CEP documents supporting the Settlement Agreement were clear and designed to satisfy the requirements of the Settlement Agreement. An audit of the CEP trust fund (Designated Amount Fund), completed by Employment and Social Development Canada and presented to the Court in March 2013, acknowledged the strength of the checks and balances validation process.
Finding 2: Both within and between the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada and Service Canada roles and responsibilities were well understood, including clearly defined relationships. However, challenges such as information not being communicated to others were encountered.
According to interviewees, at the outset, roles and responsibilities were somewhat clear at the ''ground level'' within the Department, but as the process evolved and more components were added, defining roles and responsibilities became harder. Key informants mentioned that relationships and the nature of the processes became less clear and "it really took some time to adjust" in that the CEP implementation gradually differed from the original conception. Moreover, stakeholders had a different understanding and inquired, for example, "Who paid for this?" and "Who authorized it/this?"
Senior management and staff. First, senior management had to concentrate on staffing director general-level positions. Interview evidence indicates that the relationship between staff and senior management was good because it was a small department"with a good feel and the communication was good; the employees were very dedicated, went above and beyond and in the best way; and it was a positive culture." There appeared to be a direct line to the Assistant Deputy Minister, again because it was a small group in a small department. Anecdotal evidence suggests that several employees were of the view that though this was a stressful period, they would recommend it as a place to work.
Geographical split. Due to the geographical division of the National Research Analysis Unit staff, it was difficult for some National Capital Region staff to report to a director who worked in the Vancouver National Research Analysis Unit office. Some individuals found it positive as they received a lot of direction directly "from my Director General and Assistant Deputy Minister." However, this on occasion constituted a management challenge for the National Director as it could mean a communication breakdown (e.g. exclusion from critical information being passed on). Overall, however, interviewees saw the CEP as a very horizontal, collaborative initiative "where everyone did their best to keep everyone in the loop, and senior managers were very supportive when issues arose."
At the CEP operational level, although efforts were made to be inclusive, the geographic distance, different time zones and competing mindsets (perspective and approach) were obstacles. For example, the Vancouver and National Capital Region staff did not always work the same way and further, the urgent nature of the CEP response was not dealt with in the same way so that internal procedures, discussed below, were challenges.
Another problem that came to light (due to the geographical separation) was one region's "more relaxed approach" to the CEP response "and so the urgency was not there." For example, the study learned that while senior management had informed the National Capital Region that they had room to "make mistakes, to err on the side of caution" due to the urgent nature of the CEP, this information, it appears, was not passed on to those in Vancouver. If there was far more comfort and confidence with the policies being developed in the National Capital Region than in Vancouver, then it is clear that there was a communication breakdown and this did disservice to the entire National Research Analysis Unit staff, whether they were based in the National Capital Region or in Vancouver.
In terms of the two National Research Analysis Units, prior to the arrival of a new director in February 2007, the research teams had been separate with minimal interaction and when the two were merged, there were differences in experiences and approaches. At different times, consultants were hired to address the National Research Analysis Unit's operational realities, including a change management consultant (early 2007), a focus on relationships (2008) and then an "operational sustainability assessment" undertaken in early 2009 led to a yearlong National Research Analysis Unit business transformation project.
Problems with the Information Technology (IT) system featured prominently here as well in terms of the relationship between the two National Research Analysis Unit regions. For example, while one region standardized its processes, the other did not and this, according to an interviewee, can be attributed to the fact that one office had very strong processes in place while the other did not necessarily have the same scope of standards. The centralizing of files was to make matters work better by making the work interchangeable. At the beginning, the National Capital Region was dealing with Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and the eastern provinces while British Columbia dealt with Alberta, the western provinces and the North. However, negotiations led to the National Capital Region covering Alberta. The resistance to standardization of the process could be attributed to a feeling of mistrust because one region considered the other was moving too quickly, even though both the National Capital Region and Vancouver had distinct roles and responsibilities.
For example, while interviewees agreed that there were significant attempts made to standardize research practices between the National Capital Region and Vancouver prior to implementation of the CEP, there continued to be challenges after the launch. One interviewee was of the view that one region's lack of confidence in the CARS translated into different outputs and productivity between the two offices, which compounded the situation because "one region started doing the other's files." This can largely be attributed to the geographical expanse between the two regions and where one location was able to keep its staff more informed so that there was a greater appreciation of the urgency involved. In addition, there was greater acceptance of senior management decisions and a willingness to trust the process and follow through.
There was also the transition from a small independent organization (OIRSRC) to the much larger INAC in June 2008, which led to issues related to organizational change. For instance, at the operational level, the OIRSRC's Research Unit (National Research Analysis Unit) responsible for validating CEP applications was reporting to one director general while the CEP Coordination Unit reported to another. As a result, there was a communication issue between the two CEP units. An interviewee noted that, "You could tell there was a clear distinction between the two groups. There were guidelines to be followed so the researchers followed them to a tee, whereas the workers on the frontlines may have a story that made sense but which may not fall within the guidelines. In this sense, there was less flexibility and there were differences of opinion, which posed challenges" (See "Change Management Challenges" Section 4 - Lessons Learned Findings: Key Observations).
The Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada Department and Service Canada. As stated above, the Memorandum of Understanding defined the roles and responsibilities between the OIRSRC and Service Canada for the design and delivery of the CEP. The Memorandum of Understanding put in place was well defined and it was noted that the relationship was very good between the OIRSRC and Service Canada, especially at the senior management level where they conferred weekly.
An issue identified during the interviews was the IT connectivity problem at the functioning, operational level between the two departments. Service Canada received all CEP applications, entered the data into its data system, which then connected with the OIRSRC’s claim database, the Single Access Dispute Resolution Enterprise (SADRE). Then, once an eligibility decision was made by the National Research Analysis Unit, the SADRE would be updated and data transmitted back to Service Canada. The IT systems were synchronized every 24 hours (e.g. fields had to properly align, etc.). But, as the study discovered, there was no time to test process workflow assumptions until CEP applications surged into Service Canada in September 2007. Consequently, several system issues had to be addressed within and between the two departments in real time. However, as the Study found, it seemed that by the time the issue got to senior management level, everything had been addressed because at that level, senior management received the information it needed. According to the key informant interviews, the OIRSRC Department commended Service Canada for its outreach and application intake role because when applications started arriving Service Canada was very supportive of CEP applicants. For example, some Service Canada call centres ''set up chairs for the elderly and provided food (tea, etc.) for former students who came to these centres’’. The major IT problem was due to the lack of time to implement the process and do some testing of the system within each department and between the two departments. Overall, most of the interviewees agreed that roles and responsibilities were well understood between the OIRSRC and Service Canada.
The Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada Department and the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice was involved in many aspects of the CEP since the Settlement Agreement was an obligation in an out-of-court Settlement Agreement. This meant that senior Department of Justice litigators played a key role in providing advice, interpretation and guidance in determining how the CEP should be processed, the scope of CEP eligibility and the management of all aspects of CEP appeals (and court appeals). As CEP processing began, the Department of Justice provided ongoing legal advice on a case-by-case basis. An interviewee noted that at the senior management level,relationships were strong and well understood, though at certain times there were differences, which led to additional challenges for the OIRSRC.
Overall, it must be reiterated that there were multiple players involved in the design and delivery of the CEP. As mentioned earlier, while the Government of Canada under the Settlement Agreement was responsible for the implementation of CEP, it was, on the other hand, one of many different parties signatories to the Settlement Agreement, which included representatives of IRS former students, churches, the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit organizations. Complicating the roles and responsibilities was the fact that the Settlement Agreement was also overseen by the court via the court-appointed monitor who ensured that the Government of Canada respected its legal obligations. As a result, the CEP was never fully under the OIRSRC's (the federal government) control and the federal level could not dictate how the CEP should be delivered with each service delivery process and protocol having to be vetted and approved prior to implementation. For example, the CEP Validation Protocol was the policy and procedural basis for how Canada was to assess CEP eligibility. Though this protocol was written by the Government of Canada it was subject to input, comments and edits from all parties before it was finally endorsed in August 2007, just one month prior to implementation.