Severance pay softens transition for devolved feds

Of the 130 federal employees who start their jobs with the Government of the Northwest Territories tomorrow, 97 per cent will get severance pay or a transition allowance, even though their salaries are the same or higher.
A countdown sign is posted outside of Blair Chapman’s office. The director of the Northwest Territories human resources transition team is preparing for devolution, which officially goes into effect April 1. (CBC)

Tomorrow, 130 federal employees start their new jobs with the territorial government. All but five federal Aboriginal Affairs employees accepted positions as part of devolution. Even though many will continue doing the same jobs, devolving comes with some perks.

Blair Chapman leads the Northwest Territories' human resources team that's been preparing job offers and benefits packages for the new employees that come with devolution. (CBC)
Blair Chapman is leading the human resources team for the Government of the Northwest Territories. 

He says the GNWT is offering equal or better salaries and more vacation to most employees, but when that's not the case, the new employees will get a transition allowance.

About two dozen people will receive payments between a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000 dollars this July. The transition payments will continue for up to five years, and be re-evaluated annually to make sure the employees are earning as much or more as they made before.

"In some situations, the transition allowance is not terribly significant,” Chapman says, “and the cost of living increase is enough next year in 2015 that the transition allowance will become moot and it'll essentially fall away."

Some federal employees will also receive severance pay. That might include a week’s pay for each year they’ve worked, or a lump sum equivalent to three month’s pay.

Aboriginal Affairs would not say how much this will cost, but it did say that 97 per cent of people shifting to the territory will receive either severance or that lump sum.

200 new employees

In additional to 130 federal employees, the GNWT has hired another 50 people to tackle the new responsibilities of devolution.

About 40 jobs are now posted and another 40 will go up in the next few months.

“You want to get a manager in place before you start staffing subordinate positions,” Chapman says. “So the manager or director has that opportunity to determine the right skill set or suitability for that job."

Chapman says it will take about a year to fill all the devolution positions, but starting tomorrow, it's up to the territory to start running the programs that have been run by Ottawa for so many years.


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