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A couple questions about interpreting and applying the CFTDTI for Reservists

devsnrnco

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I've had 2 situations occur over the past few years that didn't "feel right" but have always kept my head down and played the game because we all know what happens when people try to get smart rather than showing blind obedience and deference to CoC. However, now that I'm a Sgt and starting to deal with tons of admin issues, I'm becoming more acquainted with the process of scrutinizing policies before establishing COAs and also calling BS on higher ups and/or clerks/HRA pers who make up answers and force their interpretation of policies they've probably never read.

I have read the CFTDTI here Canadian Forces Temporary Duty Travel Instructions - Canada.ca and now I don't know what to think about the following 2 situations:

1. A few years ago, I did a 4-month tasking in Ottawa. My home unit and residential address are in Toronto. I had a Route Letter, as well as a Travel Order and Claim. Upon my return, I had to fill out an itinerary for submission to my home unit BOR, along with all the other documents. The itinerary indicated Toronto -> Ottawa for the start date of the task, then Ottawa -> Toronto at the end. In casual conversation, I mentioned that upon leaving Ottawa, I actually made a pit stop in Montreal for a couple of days before returning to my home in Toronto. A mbr of the BOR overhead this and forced me to amend my itinerary so that the return trip would show only Ottawa -> Montreal. This felt wrong and unfair, since my home was Toronto and I would ultimately still need to make the Ottawa -> Toronto trip and I don't see how/why it should be anyone's business what pit stops I make along the way at my own expense? This happened in 2018 when I was a Cpl and now I'm wondering if I'd have grounds for a grievance (probably not if there's a statute of limitations on grievances) and if not, I would at least like to know if the BOR was right to do this?

2. I have not submitted any meal claims for Class A days in over 5 years, because:

a) Section 5.18 of the CFTDTI (linked above) contains some self-contradictory clauses that allow some units to systematically authorize a meal or two for virtually any Class A day other than a regular training night, while other units (or coys or sub-units, depending on the CSM/OC) categorically deny them.

The most problematic contradictions and/or unclear points that I need help with are as follows:

i. If you read 5.18.1.a.i, which says "the member's duty prevents the member from having their normal meal", the meaning of "normal meal" needs clarification because then the policy goes on to say 5.18.2.c.ii "there is no available meal facility (i.e. lunch room) for the member to eat a meal brought from home". The way this has always been interpreted at my current unit (which is radically different from my previous unit) is that if any room with tables, or even a fold-out tray on a bus, can be considered a "meal facility" and therefore you should pack a sandwich from home if you will be working over a meal hour. This begs the question regarding the definition of the previously referenced "normal meal". What if the "normal meal" would have been something that required heating, refrigeration, or cannot be packed into a patrol pack without getting destroyed?

ii. Section 5.18.1.b says "an approving authority considers it reasonable in the circumstances for the member to have a meal [...] at public expense". Who would be the approving authority? I think this decision is often made by someone other than the approving authority.

3. Is it true that meals need to be authorized ahead of time? With my past unit, if I did a tasking and was on the road all day, then I would simply submit an itinerary with receipts along with my pay sheet and that was it. However, with my current unit, I've been told that you "can't just do that" and that meals need to be approved in advance as part of the tasking. For example, if I do a Class A driving tasking where I'm alone and ferrying different SMP vehicles between armouries around Toronto from 0800 - 1700, wouldn't I automatically be able to submit a lunch claim or would that need to have been established at the time the Class A pay for that tasking was authorized in the first place? If someone could direct me to the policy with these ins and outs, I would be grateful... but I suspect this will be in some obscure DWAN-only document that you learn about on a Clerk QL4 crse or something.
 

CountDC

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1. No your return trip should not have been based on Ottawa to Montreal, it should have remained Ottawa to Toronto. Your trip to Montreal should have been counted as non-claimable days. I would first look at the amount of difference it was and decide if you feel it is worth the effort. I would discuss with my chain of command to see if it can be handled informally (keep records). Next step would be a letter of enquiry (might be different term now) to the CO on the matter requesting a review. After that you would have to decide on the redress. My personal recommendation as you mention as a Sgt that even if the amount was so small you didn't consider it worthwhile consider your current and future troops. Sometimes the fight is for those to follow. At least request a review of regulations and audit of the claim with a supplementary claim paid if found in your favour.

2. I agree that this could be better worded to tighten it up although the examples do help some in most cases. A key is that it does leave it to the CO discretion in stating all the conditions are satisfied which includes
b. an approving authority considers it reasonable in the circumstances for the member to have a meal — other than a mess dinner, mixed dining-in, or other similar event — at public expense;

A room with tables and chairs can be a meal facility, restaurants are basically rooms with tables and chairs. Drop down trays I do not see an issue with either as for years that is what many long haul modes of transport have provided to passengers. Air lines still use them when they provide meals or snacks. It goes back though to the CO authorizing a meal or not.

3, That would depend on who is employing you. If you are working for Div it should be approved prior rather than completing the task and then requesting a meal from them. If the unit then it would be a unit policy issued by the COas the CO should be the one to authorize or deny the meals. In fairness whoever requested the tasking approval should have considered a meal and indicated in the task auth rather one was claimable. In your example of moving vehicles between armouries in Toronto I would recommend the CO not authorize a meal as there are facilities in them for you to sit down to eat and you can schedule in your plan a meal time. It may not be a 12 to 1300 lunch but you can get a meal period in there to either side.
 

SupersonicMax

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CountDC: I believe that meal hours are defined the CAFTDTIs. IIRC, lunch is between 1130 and 1330. If you cannot have access to suitable facilities during that timeframe, that’s a claimable lunch.
 

devsnrnco

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CountDC: I believe that meal hours are defined the CAFTDTIs. IIRC, lunch is between 1130 and 1330. If you cannot have access to suitable facilities during that timeframe, that’s a claimable lunch.
They are not, at least in the online version. I've seen people be able to claim meals for overnight duty but I'm not sure how they figure it out in those circumstances
 

SupersonicMax

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I guess it depends if the member works within its place of duty or outside (as defined by the Base Standing Orders). If not, Chapter 6 applies and 6.18 defines them for when a member leaves home. Also, per Chapter 6, unless the member is provided meals, they can claim them (ie: no expectation to pack a lunch).

For Chapter 5, as it has been mentioned, it is heavily dependant on the CO. But in any case, the claim would only be for the actual and reasonable amount paid.
 

CountDC

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SupersonicMax said:
CountDC: I believe that meal hours are defined the CAFTDTIs. IIRC, lunch is between 1130 and 1330. If you cannot have access to suitable facilities during that timeframe, that’s a claimable lunch.

incorrect on the hard defined meal hours in the CFTDTI. What you are referring to is for calculating meal entitlements under 6 7 and 8 which are all travel outside the place of duty, do not require receipts and entitle member to the full meal rate - ie Toronto to Ottawa, Meaford, Borden. It is not for local meals under 5 which is within place of duty. Any office I supervise we have staggered lunches so that someone is around to serve our customers - from opening at 0700 to closing at 1700 we are there. Lunch for us is between 1100 to 1400 depending where you fit in the schedule.

5.19 Meals - administration​

(Application) This instruction applies to instruction 5.18 (Meals).
  1. (Meal Breaks) Every superior officer shall - unless it is exceptionally unreasonable to do so - provide a meal break to a member approximately midway through a regular work period or shift for the member to obtain a meal at the member’s expense.
  2. (Meals - Delay) A reasonably delayed meal hour does not by itself create an entitlement to a meal at Crown expense.
 
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