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CSSEA was established by government to coordinate collective bargaining for publicly-funded employers in the sector. CSSEA negotiates three collective agreements in the sector. These collective agreements cover approximately 200 employers and close to 27, 000 employees working in community social services. The cost of labour under these collective agreements is approaching $1 billion so the provincial government remains invested in how this money is spent in collective bargaining.

The three agreements in the community social services sector are established by the Community Services Labour Relations Act and they are typically negotiated at the same time and with many common terms. Your organization is party to one of the three collective agreements based on the main services you provide: community living, Indigenous child and family, or general services (i.e., all other types of community social services). Individual employer and union collective agreements have not been negotiated in this sector since 1999, given the efficiency of group bargaining and the common interests that employers in this sector share with one another. Your organization has an influence in shaping the terms of your collective agreement by participating in the pre-bargaining feedback process, nominating representatives to sit on CSSEA’s divisional panel so they can join the bargaining committee to directly negotiate with the unions, and by participating in the ratification process of any tentative agreements reached by the bargaining committee. A representative of your organization can also be elected to shape CSSEA’s policies and strategic direction by participating in CSSEA governance through divisional panels and the Board of Directors.

CSSEA is one of six employers’ associations in BC, responsible for coordinating labour relations and human resources activity for the community social services sector. There are similar employer associations or representatives established for other public sectors where funding for services originates mainly from government, like health care, education, universities, and crown corporations. The mandate of all of the employer associations is determined by Section 6 of the Public Sector Employers Act. These mandates form the core of CSSEA’s responsibilities to your organization and to government. CSSEA is not an advocacy organization; rather, its legislated mandate is to coordinate activities for our sector in the following areas:

  1. Collective bargaining
  2. Human resource practices
  3. Benefit administration
  4. Compensation for non-union employees of members
  5. Fostering positive relationships with the unions; and
  6. Assisting the government in the delivery of their strategic initiatives

To carry out these mandated responsibilities, CSSEA currently has a total staffing complement of about 20, including the CEO, finance and administration, communications, membership, research and knowledge management, and human resources/labour relations services. The two departments that you will most typically have contact with are Research and Knowledge Management and Human Resources/Labour Relations.

Human Resources/Labour Relations

The Human Resources/Labour Relations Department is a team of seven professionals who provide support to all of the roughly 200 members who have been regulated by government to be CSSEA members, in addition to another 100 employers who have opted to pay a non-member fee to secure a range of services from CSSEA staff. Each HRLR professional is the primary contact for a portfolio of member agencies, which continues to grow in number as more employers become unionized and regulated by government.

The HRLR professionals provide the following free services mandated by the Public Sector Employers Act:

  • conduct provincial collective bargaining on your behalf, as well as related duties including coordinating the essential services designation process in the event of strike action and representing your organization in your local issues negotiations (and arbitration if necessary) on the topic areas listed under MOA #1.
  • post information and directions on our website in relation to current events and emerging issues.
  • develop online resources on a wide range of human resources and labour relations topics for you to access on-demand to find answers to your questions. This includes an interpretation guide for each article of the collective agreement on our member website, and hour-long modules in our Learning Hub on topics of greatest labour relations interest, for a modest fee. Our website contains resources on a number of other topics including the CSS Early Intervention Program, template policies, checklists for newly certified employers, and job classification materials.
  • provide advice on the interpretation of your collective agreement on more complex matters not specifically covered by the online interpretation guide.
  • develop and deliver customized education where needed on topics not covered by the online interpretation guide and/or Learning Hub.
  • provide advice with strategic human resource and labour relations initiatives and decisions, like workforce changes and planning, and addressing duty to accommodate inquiries.
  • act as an advisor after you have completed a disciplinary or harassment investigation and are considering disciplinary action based on your findings.
  • represent your organization as counsel in expedited arbitration, mediation, and arbitration hearings when disputes cannot be resolved after you have made best efforts to do so in the grievance procedure. CSSEA staff assumes the case file upon it being referred to hearing.
  • represent your organization at tribunal hearings such as the Labour Relations Board and the Human Rights Tribunal (provided that the employer’s insurer approves of CSSEA representing the employer where insurance payments may be made).
  • provide advice on structuring and negotiating resolutions to non-union discipline and dismissal matters except where it appears that the matter will proceed to Court; in those cases, employers should secure their own counsel early in the process.

CSSEA is the ultimate decision maker in matters that could impact on all members’ human resource practices (sector-wide implications).

Services Not Provided by HRLR

CSSEA’s HRLR team does not provide the following services:

  • Attending operational, investigation, or disciplinary (including termination) meetings; however, CSSEA will provide the advice you need to participate in these meetings effectively.
  • Attending grievance meetings with stewards or union representatives; however, CSSEA will provide the advice you need to address grievances effectively.
  • Attending to WorkSafeBC (WSBC) matters. The independent Employers Advisors Office at WSBC handles claims management and other WSBC inquiries. Please identify yourself as a CSSEA member when connecting as this sector represents a block of business for WSBC.
  • Litigation relating to wrongful dismissal claims filed by non-union and management personnel. CSSEA staff do not attend court proceedings on behalf of members.
  • Advocate for adjustments to funding with your funders to address inequities and shortfalls. Under our bargaining mandate, we ensure that collective agreement negotiations occur within the global financial mandate established and approved by government, and we educate the various funders about cost increases and pressures once bargaining is complete. We do not have influence with the funding ministries over how they administer their service contracts with your agency.

From time to time, when CSSEA’s resources are stretched due to the provincial negotiations cycle, and/or staffing shortages, members may need to secure alternative representation. We recommend coordinating with CSSEA before doing so.

Steps to Take When Seeking Assistance from the HRLR team

Like you, we aim to work as efficiently as possible with the resources we have in order to deliver the mandated services. To that end, we have become more focused on developing and updating our online resources, and are continually adding to them. This allows managers to educate themselves and seek answers to a broad range of questions “on demand,” so that they can get the information they need when they need it.

This also allows for our staff to focus on providing value-added services when they are most needed. Our staff must prioritize their time between all employers in their portfolio. In addition to answering inquiries, their activities include engaging in litigation activities for members (frequently involving extensive preparation time prior to and during the hearing), collective bargaining, and resource development. Nevertheless, we will always aim to acknowledge your inquiries within 24 hours; given competing demands it may take longer to provide a complete answer to your inquiries.

Get the Most out of CSSEA

CSSEA recommends the following to get the most out of your relationship with your HRLR contact:

  1. Keep your agency contact information up to date. If there are changes to your agency’s leadership, particularly Executive Director/CEO, we ask that you notify us in a timely manner by e-mailing us so there are no gaps in communications with CSSEA.
  2. Ensure that the people in your organization who advise or make decisions about labour relations and human resource matters have access to CSSEA’s member website. Access is free, but the credentials will be provided by CSSEA only to persons who are in management and authorized by your CEO. As mentioned, there is a wealth of resources there, including interpretations of each collective agreement article.
  3. Encourage management staff to join the My Leadership Learning Hub. We recommend that new managers who have labour relations and human resource responsibilities be encouraged to take all of the labour relations courses as part of their orientation. Existing managers may also benefit from further education on these topics. The LR courses cover a range of topics including: introduction to joint labour relations, performance management, the disciplinary process, conducting effective investigations, discrimination and the duty to accommodate, and attendance management. There is a modest fee for access, with a group discount available. This will help managers be much more effective in their relationships with unions and in navigating the labour relations and human resource environment.
  4. Regularly check for new CSSEA communications online, especially for CSSEA Infos and CEO Updates. These communications provide timely updates on current events, emerging issues and directions from CSSEA to members.
  5. Have a single point of contact from your organization to communicate with your primary HRLR professional. This facilitates the development of strong internal coordination on labour relations/human resource matters within your organization. A single contact ensures effective flow of information, enhancement of skills and best practices throughout your organization, and the consistent management of similar issues arising in all of your programs and worksites. It also facilitates the streamlining of questions and answers to and from CSSEA with your organization, without duplication on similar issues.
  6. Include in your inquiries as much relevant information as possible to reduce the time spent gathering information necessary to properly address the inquiry in a timely way. Once the information is gathered, it may be easier to schedule a meeting to work through the more complex issues and develop strategies.
  7. Pose inquiries as far in advance as possible so CSSEA staff can effectively respond and discuss issues with you as needed.

Research and Knowledge Management

The Research and Knowledge Management department provides costing support to the collective bargaining process, so that CSSEA and the government fully understand how much funding will be needed to implement the collective agreements, and any changes made to them in bargaining.

Collective bargaining of the three agreements will always be concluded within the global funding mandate of government. CSSEA’s global costings on collective agreement settlements are based on the data provided by members in submitting their Compensation and Employee Turnover Reports. Our legislated mandate is to ensure that government knows how much money is required to fund the collective agreement settlements and other funding commitments made at the bargaining table. The data also informs PSEC and the various funding ministries/entities so that they can plan for the necessary allocations to many service contracts within their budgets.

The department also produces a number of human resource reports of interest to members. These include:

  • Executive Director/CEO Salary Report
  • Employee Turnover Report
  • Agency Employee Turnover Report
  • Employee Turnover Report by Classification
  • Management and Excluded Salary Report
  • Social Services HR Metrics Report
  • Agency HR Metrics Report
  • Non-Union Salary Report
  • CSSEA Fact Book

To provide these reports, the department depends on members to voluntarily provide human resource data to CSSEA. The higher the participation rates of members in data collection, the more accurately CSSEA can estimate the cost pressures arising from collective bargaining for funding purposes, and the more accurately the reports can be produced. CSSEA requests its members to complete the Compensation and Employee Turnover Report on an annual basis.

The Research and Knowledge Management department also provides job classifications support to member employers. When bargaining unit jobs are created or materially changed, the new or changed jobs are evaluated under the Joint Job Evaluation Plan (JJEP) for placement on the collective agreement wage schedule.


CSSEA’s Communications department keeps the membership connected with developments related to provincial bargaining, HRLR legislative news, research and knowledge management updates, and events. We communicate with members through a number of targeted publications, which are both e-mailed to the contacts designated by an agency’s Executive Director/CEO and posted on this website. Our main publications include:

  • CSSEA Info: This is CSSEA’s most common publication and is used to share all general information that requires action by the membership. This includes: upcoming legislative amendments that may impact your operations, news about sectoral arbitrations and grievances, survey requests or report releases, notification of new wage grids, reminders about collective agreement implementation dates, events and registration, and the like.
  • CEO Update: This is a high-level communication by CSSEA’s CEO, which provides a monthly overview of CSSEA’s operations across departments. It not only keeps members informed about what we are working on, but also provides commentary on key issues, when appropriate.
  • CSSEA News: This is a periodic publication that covers pertinent HRLR topics and membership-related news.
  • Annual Report: This yearly report provides financial disclosures and departmental highlights from the preceding year.
  • Bargaining Updates: When CSSEA is actively in bargaining, we provide brief updates on key developments at the bargaining table, but only to designated bargaining contacts. This communication is not posted publicly in order to preserve the integrity of negotiations.

AGM and Conference

CSSEA’s Communications department is also responsible for organizing the Annual General Meeting, which takes place in person and tackles yearly association business, including the selection (and potentially, election) of panel and board representatives. It is also the venue where resolutions may be proposed and discussed. The AGM takes place alongside a multi-day conference, which provides cost-effective workshops on a range of rotating HRLR topics that is appropriate for community social services leaders, from new leaders to Executive Directors and CEOs.

Community Social Services Awards of Excellence

The BC Community Social Services Awards of Excellence sponsored by TELUS, were created in 2015 to celebrate successes in BC's publicly-funded community social services sector and to thank the incredible employees responsible for these successes.

Employees in the community social services sector play vital roles in providing care for people with physical, mental and developmental disabilities; at-risk youth; women experiencing family violence; and children who witness abuse. The creation of these awards is CSSEA’s way to acknowledge the incredible work being done in our sector.

CSSEA accepts nominations for the awards each spring and holds a luncheon during the Fall AGM and Conference to celebrate each year’s winners. Winners are selected in four categories:

  • Rising Star: An individual with less than five years of experience who demonstrates early success.
  • Leader: An individual with more than five years of formal leadership experience who leads and mentors a team to achieve a common goal.
  • Hero: Someone who goes the extra mile to make a difference, not necessarily in a formal leadership role.
  • Legend: An ED or CEO with at least 15 years of experience who has made extraordinary contributions to the community and the sector.

Awards recipients are selected anonymously following a two-step process. This includes an initial short list selected by a CSSEA member panel, followed by one recipient from each category selected by a committee of volunteers representing the community, academia and business. Meet all our previous winners here


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555 Burrard Street, Box 232
Vancouver, BC  V7X 1M8
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