Employee Assistance Program


  1. To provide details regarding application of the Employee Assistance Program principles, in accordance with Commissioner's Directive 253 - Employee Assistance Program.


  1. Treasury Board Policy on the Employee Assistance Program
    Commissioner's Directive 253 - Employee Assistance Program
    Guidelines 253-2 - Critical Incident Stress Management


  1. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential program designed to encourage employees and members of their families to voluntarily seek assistance in dealing with personal or work-related problems that may impair their well-being and productivity. The EAP is intended to help employees identify their problems and to refer them to the appropriate resources. It also seeks to assist employees in resolving short-term problems by turning to a range of professionals. Where a problem requires long-term intervention, EAP clients are referred to specialized resources in the community, including those covered by the Public Service Health Care Plan.
  2. Employees include active full-time and part-time term and indeterminate employees at all levels, excluding casual workers, contractual workers and students. Retirees and terminated employees are eligible for the Program for six months following the end of employment.


  1. Working in a correctional environment poses significant, often demanding challenges that increase the risk of stress and cumulative stress for employees.
  2. The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has adopted an EAP model that primarily relies on the availability of referral agents. Employees who have volunteered and been selected jointly by union and management are trained to assist, advise and refer their co-workers and family members who are encountering difficulties to professionals or agencies, including those in the community. CSC also establishes retainer contracts to offer short-term counselling, to respond immediately to varying needs.
  3. The EAP does not exist in isolation or separately from other programs. To the extent permitted by confidentiality constraints, it may work in cooperation with other committees, programs and partners (such as the Workplace Health and Safety Program, the Informal Conflict Management Program, the Harassment Prevention Program, the Return to Work Program, training programs, etc.) to help improve employees' quality of life at work and to develop a positive work environment by consistently promoting a healthy and safe workplace and an organizational culture that supports and respects the individual.
  4. As directed by Treasury Board policy, management shall support the EAP. Unions representing the employees of the Service are consulted and provided with the opportunity to jointly develop and fully participate in the EAP, including referrals, educational and promotional aspects. Unions, in accordance with their agreements to support the Program, and management shall identify representatives to participate in EAP committees.
  5. There is no formal referral process in CSC's EAP. The utilization of the Program is voluntary, thus the decision to use services offered within the EAP rests solely with the employee.
  6. Each EAP client must be respected regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability, political affiliation, social or economic status, or physical or mental abilities or characteristics or other similar grounds.


  1. Resourcing Indicators - In order to provide consistent EAP services across the country, the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource Management is responsible for the identification and regular review of resourcing indicators. Resourcing indicators must ensure ongoing funding for short-term counselling, program promotion and prevention activities that promote health and wellness. Given the nature of the Program, some activities will also require hospitality funding.
  2. Regional Deputy Commissioners and the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource Management are responsible for providing the support to ensure that employee assistance mechanisms are in place and are functioning effectively. They are also responsible for ensuring that preventive programs are being implemented, including regular training, preventive education and information activities to assist employees throughout their career with personal development on health and wellness issues. As the Program depends mostly on volunteer employees, Regional Deputy Commissioners and the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource Management must also ensure that the specific needs of peer helpers, such as compassion fatigue, are addressed.
  3. Regional Deputy Commissioners, the Assistant Commissioner, Human Resource Management, Institutional Heads and District Directors are responsible for the EAP and shall:
    1. with representatives of unions which endorse the Program, jointly identify members of committees and select EAP referral agents;
    2. ensure that mechanisms for employee assistance services are offered in conformity with the requirements of the Program;
    3. ensure that managers, supervisors and union representatives are given EAP training and that all employees are given EAP awareness sessions; and
    4. ensure that EAP referral agents are given all the support necessary to fulfil their obligations and responsibilities related to EAP, including training, assistance services and participation in committees.
  4. Supervisors shall:
    1. ensure that all employees are informed about EAP;
    2. provide all the support necessary to employees using EAP services; and
    3. provide EAP referral agents with all the support necessary, particularly by allowing them enough time away from regular duties to fulfil their obligations and responsibilities related to EAP, including training, assistance services, program promotion, wellness activities and participation in committees.
  5. The National EAP Coordinator is responsible for the overall EAP and Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM), at the corporate level, and for providing advice on EAP and CISM to senior management, liaison officers, program agents, managers, supervisors, union representatives, CSC employees and members of their families and all other stakeholders in other departments and community and private agencies.
  6. Regional EAP Coordinators are responsible for developing, implementing, managing and promoting the regional EAP and CISM, and for providing advice on EAP and CISM to regional senior management, liaison officers, program agents, managers, supervisors, union representatives, CSC employees and members of their families and all other stakeholders in other departments and community and private agencies.
  7. The National EAP Advisory Committee is established to oversee the departmental Program, and provide advice to CSC senior management regarding the management of the Program.
  8. Regional Advisory Committees are responsible for providing advice and guidance to the Regional CSC Executive Committee regarding the management of the Program.
  9. Local committees, with the support of management and unions, are responsible for implementing and promoting the Program at the operational unit level. The Chairperson of the local committee is a program agent chosen by the members of the committee. Responsibilities include:
    1. coordinating the EAP team activities and acting as a liaison officer with the Regional EAP Coordinator;
    2. ensuring that liaison and relationships are established and maintained with community resources to compile and update lists of services available for the use of referral agents;
    3. ensuring that linkages with unions, management, supervisors and unit personnel officers are made as required;
    4. ensuring, with the assistance of the Regional EAP Coordinator, that all employees, management and union representatives are provided with training on the EAP;
    5. keeping management, the unions that endorse the Program and the Regional EAP Coordinator, apprised of EAP operations, including training for program agents, committee meetings, information and training for employees, and assistance services;
    6. ensuring that an information, training and prevention calendar on activities related to EAP is established, to promote health and well-being and educate employees about personal or work problems related to lifestyle, work environment and coping mechanisms.
  10. Referral agents shall:
    1. provide EAP services in the form of assistance, information, advice and referral to appropriate professionals or agencies, while protecting confidentiality and, where possible, providing EAP user anonymity;
    2. recognize the limitations of their role and encourage EAP users, based on the needs expressed, to utilize other qualified available resources;
    3. provide support and follow-up;
    4. attempt to keep disruptions in work responsibilities to a minimum when conducting EAP business;
    5. compile statistical data on EAP services offered and report the information to the Local EAP Coordinator/liaison officer, who will report the information to the Regional EAP Coordinator, while protecting confidentiality.


  1. Peer helpers must be representative of the CSC employee population. Women and men from various age categories, employee groups (AS, CR, CX, PE, WP, etc.) and cultural and ethnic origins are to be encouraged to become volunteers. The EAP resources should reflect the public they serve.
  2. Candidates are to be trustworthy. Consideration should be given primarily to individuals with the personal qualities and abilities to play an impartial role in a joint management-labour initiative, and who are least likely to be involved in various responsibility areas that may be too demanding and/or in conflict.
  3. Candidates must be approved by both union and management. If either union or management lacks confidence in the candidate's personal suitability, the candidate will not be selected. Neither party should insist on the selection of a candidate who does not have the confidence of the other party, nor should either party prevent the selection of a candidate for a reason not related to the official selection criteria.
  4. Acceptable candidates should:
    1. express an interest in assisting fellow employees;
    2. be prepared to serve as a peer helper for a minimum of three years (i.e., no retirement or transfer expected within this period);
    3. be mature and be respectful of and respected by peers;
    4. exercise discretion, be able to keep confidences and have integrity;
    5. be able to relate to people, communicate easily, empathize, remain objective, be non-judgmental and demonstrate helping and problem-solving skills;
    6. be able to maintain a neutral stance, remain impartial in conflicts between the client, the union or management;
    7. be able to work in a team;
    8. be able to work under pressure and be available on short notice;
    9. have the support of their supervisor to be able to dedicate time to EAP activities; and
    10. be available to attend the basic and continuous education training as per National Training Standards.
  5. Dismissal - The Regional EAP Coordinator is responsible for assessing the quality of programs. In a situation where dismissal of a volunteer is being examined, the Regional EAP Coordinator is to be contacted to provide recommendations. The National EAP Coordinator will be contacted by the Regional EAP Coordinator.


  1. Confidentiality refers to the obligation to refrain from willingly disclosing information that has been received in confidence. It does not refer to situations in which the law requires a person to divulge information according to the requirements of the Privacy Act, or when humane, moral, or ethical considerations prevail. Confidentiality cannot be maintained in the circumstances set out in subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act, which include court subpoenas, suspected cases of child abuse, threat of suicide and criminal activity.
  2. No referral agent will be called upon as a witness by management or unions to provide information before a third party such as a tribunal or an adjudicator.
  3. EAP interviews are confidential and referral agents shall not keep EAP notes or files. A supervisor who authorizes a subordinate to meet with an EAP representative during working hours may request confirmation that the employee went to an appointment only if the employee authorizes the EAP representative to divulge this specific information. No information regarding the content of the interview is to be shared.


  1. Peer helpers must avoid providing EAP services to close relatives, friends or people they supervise or work with very closely.
  2. When selecting peer helpers, primary consideration must be given to individuals who are least likely to be involved in various responsibility areas that may sometimes be too demanding and/or in conflict.


  1. Since participation in EAP is entirely voluntary, no employee shall suffer repercussions or be disciplined for refusing to seek EAP assistance. Work performance and misconduct are the only criteria by which management can proceed to administrative procedures.
  2. When needed, sick leave credits for treatment and rehabilitation are used in accordance with existing collective agreements and Public Service policies. When requested, other forms of leave shall be granted and used in accordance with existing collective agreements and Public Service policies.


  1. To assess the effectiveness of this policy, the Treasury Board Secretariat requires that departments submit a report on program structure and a statistical summary of their EAP activities. EAP Coordinators are responsible for producing statistics. The statistical reports should not permit the identification of clients. Reports are required by the Secretariat every two years starting from March 31, 1993.
  2. Any information produced within the context of EAP shall be prepared in order to protect confidentiality. Reasonable efforts should also be made to offer anonymity whenever possible.

Assistant Commissioner,
Human Resource Management

Original signed by:

Denis Méthé


For more information

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