Client Satisfaction Survey - Final Report

PWGSC Contract #2A001-135042/001/C4
POR Registration #POR 051-13
Contract Award Date: 12/12/2013

Ekos Research Associates Inc.

Canada Industrial Relations Board Client Satisfaction Survey

FINAL REPORT

Submitted to:

Ms. Diane Chartrand
Senior Director, Strategic Policy and Planning
Canada Industrial Relations Board
Ottawa, Canada
K1A 0X8

EKOS RESEARCH ASSOCIATES INC.
June 2014

I hereby certify as Senior Officer of EKOS Research Associates Inc. that the deliverables fully comply with the Government of Canada political neutrality requirements outlined in the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada and Procedures for Planning and Contracting Public Opinion Research. Specifically, the deliverables do not include information on electoral voting intentions, political party preferences, standings with the electorate or ratings of the performance of a political party or its leaders.

Derek Jansen
Vice President
EKOS Research

EKOS RESEARCH ASSOCIATES

Ottawa Office
359 Kent Street, Suite 300
Ottawa, Ontario
K2P 0R6
Tel: (613) 235 7215
Fax: (613) 235 8498
E-mail: pobox@ekos.com

Toronto Office
51 Wolseley Street
Toronto, Ontario M5T 1A4
Tel: (416) 598-8002
Fax: (416) 533-4713
Email: toronto@ekos.com

Winnipeg Office
7 Prominence Point
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3Y 0A9
Tel: (204) 221-9923
E-mail: winnipeg@ekos.com

ekos.com


Executive Summary

Background and Methodology

The Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB or Board) is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part I (Industrial Relations), and certain provisions of Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code. Since April 1, 2013, the CIRB is also responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part II (Professional Relations) of the Status of the Artist Act, previously administered by the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal.

A key priority for the CIRB is to continue to improve service delivery to its clients, and thus contribute to a productive, effective workplace that is free from service disruptions and ultimately delivers programs and services to Canadians that provide economic, social and cultural benefits.

EKOS Research Associates was commissioned by the Board to conduct a survey of client satisfaction. The objective of the research was to provide the organization with reliable, up-to-date information on the degree of its clients’ satisfaction with the services they received, and identify possible areas for improvement.

The research population consisted of 1,974 CIRB clients who had dealings with the Board under the Canada Labour Code between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013. These consisted of employers, bargaining agents and individual employees, as well as their legal representatives.

The survey questionnaire was designed by the CIRB, reviewed by EKOS and then pretested in both French and English. The CIRB provided EKOS with a list of clients and their contact information. All 1,974 clients were asked to participate in the survey and were given the opportunity to complete the questionnaire by a variety of modes (telephone, online, mail/fax). Fieldwork was conducted from March 5-May 9, 2014 (please note that fieldwork in Quebec was delayed due to the Quebec election).

A total of 563 clients participated in the survey (329 by telephone and 234 online). The survey response rate for the telephone survey component was 27 per cent; the response rate for the online component was 26 per cent.

Key Findings

Key findings from the survey are outlined below, and results are described in more detail in the remainder of this report.

Satisfaction with CIRB Staff

Respondents were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with their most recent activity with the Board, both overall, as well as across nine service factors. The results reveal that a strong majority of clients (87 per cent) expressed overall satisfaction with CIRB staff. Satisfaction levels across the nine service factors are in the same range as the overall satisfaction level, varying narrowly from 84 to 95 per cent satisfied. The factors with the highest levels of satisfaction were service provision in the official language of the client’s choice, and the courteousness of the CIRB officer (95 and 94 per cent satisfaction levels, respectively). The perceived fairness and impartiality of the CIRB officer received the lowest satisfaction level, although 84 percent of respondents still expressed satisfaction with this issue. The proportion of clients who were dissatisfied with their most recent interaction with CIRB staff, both overall and across the nine service factors, was less than 10 per cent.

The survey also asked clients to compare their most recent experience with their past interactions with the Board. The majority of respondents (81 per cent) indicated that their most recent experience was “about the same” as past interactions. However, clients who perceived a change were about three times as likely to judge their most recent experience to have been relatively “better” (14 per cent) than “worse” (5 per cent).

Satisfaction with CIRB Mediation Process

Clients who had participated in a CIRB mediation process were asked to indicate their level of satisfaction with the CIRB’s performance, both overall and with seven key aspects of the process. Strong majorities of respondents express satisfaction with the overall mediation process, as well as with each of its seven aspects. The ability of the CIRB to offer services in the client’s official language of choice received the highest rating at 98 per cent satisfaction, followed by the availability of services/mediator (93 per cent satisfaction). The aspects of the mediation process that received the lowest ratings were the fairness and impartiality of the process (84 per cent were satisfied), and the ability of officers to manage difficult situations (82 per cent indicated satisfaction). Few clients (less than one in 10) expressed dissatisfaction with either the overall mediation process or any of its elements.

Satisfaction with Representation Vote Process

The survey also examined satisfaction with representation votes. Only about one-quarter of respondents (23 per cent) indicated that they had been involved in a representation vote, however, a strong majority of those who had been involved in a representation vote were satisfied with the overall process (80 per cent). Moreover, close to nine in 10 (89 per cent) were satisfied that the process was clearly communicated, and 82 per cent expressed satisfaction with the timeliness of the vote.

Satisfaction with Case Management Meetings

About one-third of the clients surveyed (34 per cent) indicated that they had participated in a case management meeting or teleconference before the CIRB at some point from January 1, 2012 to December 21, 2013.

Satisfaction levels with the CIRB’s case management process, both overall, and with respect to key aspects, are very high. Nine in ten (89 per cent) were satisfied with the case management process overall. In terms of key aspects of the process, more than nine in ten were satisfied with the respect for the official language selected by the parties (96 per cent), and the timeliness of the case management meeting (91 per cent). More than eight in ten were satisfied with the opportunity to present their case (89 per cent), the fairness of the process (85 per cent), and adjournment requests (82 per cent). The lowest satisfaction levels were found in the availability of simultaneous translation services when requested in advance, although 75 per cent still indicated satisfaction with this issue.

Satisfaction with Expedited Process

Respondents who had participated in an expedited process were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the process. A strong majority (79 per cent) indicated that they were satisfied overall with the manner in which their case was dealt with under the expedited process. Moreover, more than eight in ten indicated they were satisfied with the speed with which the decision was issued (88 per cent), the timeliness of their hearing (87 per cent), and the opportunity to present their case (85 per cent).

Satisfaction with CIRB Oral Hearing Process

Survey results reveal that relatively few of the clients surveyed (27 per cent) participated in an oral hearing before the CIRB during the period of January 1, 2012 to December 21, 2013. Of those who did, a little over half (57 per cent) indicated that they were involved in more than one hearing during this time.

Clients who had indicated that they had participated in an oral hearing were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the overall process, as well as across eight key service aspects. Results reveal that client satisfaction with CIRB’s oral hearing process is very high, both overall (91 per cent satisfied), as well as with respect to the eight service aspects examined. Clients are particularly satisfied with the suitability of hearing rooms (97 per cent satisfaction), respect for the official language selected by the parties (96 per cent), accessibility of hearing sites (94 per cent), and, the opportunity to present one’s case (91 per cent). The lowest rated aspects of oral hearings were the timeliness of the hearings and the availability of simultaneous translation services when requested in advance; however, 81 per cent of clients were still satisfied with these aspects.

Results further reveal that client satisfaction with the processing of a matter without holding an oral hearing is high. Three-quarters or more were satisfied with the opportunity to present their case (79 per cent), the decision being issued in a timely manner (78 per cent), and procedural fairness (75 per cent). A similar proportion (74 per cent) are satisfied with the process overall.

Satisfaction with CIRB Decisions

Clients were also asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the CIRB’s decisions. Three aspects of the Board’s decisions were examined: timeliness, clarity, and consistency with jurisprudence. Results reveal that a majority of clients were satisfied with each of the three decision aspects, with the highest rating being assigned to the clarity of decisions (80 per cent satisfaction), and the lowest rating accorded to the timeliness of decisions (73 per cent satisfaction).

Satisfaction with CIRB Website

The survey also included a number of questions examining clients’ experience with the CIRB’s website.

Most of those who responded to the survey (60 per cent) indicated that they visited the Board’s website at some point between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013. Among those who visited the site, about three-quarters said that they visited it either occasionally or frequently.

Survey results also reveal that, overall, about three-quarters of those who visited the website (74 per cent) were satisfied with the site, and fewer than one in ten (7 per cent) expressed dissatisfaction.

However, client satisfaction with key elements of the website was a little more mixed. Nine in 10 (89 per cent) indicated that the website was easy to find, and strong majorities (i.e., at least 70 per cent) agreed that the site’s information was accurate, up-to-date, easily understood, and complete. However, only about half (56 per cent) agreed that they easily found what they were looking for on the website.

Overall Satisfaction with Service Received from CIRB

The last section of the survey was aimed at obtaining an overall assessment of the CIRB’s services from clients, as well as to provide a final opportunity to suggest improvements to make the CIRB’s services more helpful to labour-management relations.

A strong majority of clients (84 per cent) indicated that they were satisfied with the service(s) they received from the CIRB in the period covered by the questionnaire, while only 9 per cent expressed dissatisfaction.

In terms of recommendations for improvement, about 40 per cent of clients made at least one suggestion to improve CIRB’s services. However, suggestions were varied with no issue being mentioned by more than 8 per cent of these respondents. Several suggestions pertained to improving the timeliness of procedures, for example by simplifying procedures and reducing delays (8 per cent), and keeping clients informed throughout the process (6 per cent).

Conclusions and Implications

Results from the CIRB’s client satisfaction survey are very positive. Across virtually all of the areas/issues examined clients express high levels of satisfaction. The results are particularly impressive given the complex and potentially contentious nature of the matters that the Board deals with. Investigating, mediating and adjudicating issues arising out of workplace disagreement or conflict has tremendous scope to leave one or more of the parties involved in a matter dissatisfied or even resentful. Yet, the majority of satisfaction indicators from the survey are in the 80 to 95 per cent range.

The results are also remarkably consistent. Satisfaction levels are high across the key service offerings/interactions examined in the survey; there is no service aspect or set of issues that elicited low satisfaction levels. Similarly, we found very little variation in client satisfaction levels across Regional Offices.

The survey evidence also suggests that quality of service at the CIRB may be improving over time: clients were three times as likely to say that their most recent interaction with the staff of the Board was “better”, rather than “worse”, compared with their past interactions.

However, the survey revealed satisfaction levels among individuals are consistently lower than those of other client types. And, in many cases, these differences are large. It may be that compared to union and association representatives, business executives, and certainly lawyers, individuals are not as well equipped to shepherd their case through the CIRB’s processes, resulting in lower satisfaction.

It should be also be noted that, while mentioned by relatively few respondents, in some of the open-ended questions aimed at examining areas for improvement, a belief that the Board should be more impartial was mentioned several times, suggesting this may be an area potentially in need of attention from the Board.

Finally, while satisfaction with many aspects of the CIRB’s website is high, only about half of those who visited the site easily found what there were looking for, suggesting this may also be in need of some attention.

1. Background, Objectives, and Methodology

The Canada Industrial Relations Board ( CIRB or Board) is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part I (Industrial Relations), and certain provisions of Part II (Occupational Health and Safety) of the Canada Labour Code. Since April 1, 2013, the CIRB is also responsible for the interpretation and administration of Part II (Professional Relations) of the Status of the Artist Act, previously administered by the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal.

As a result of this new and expanded role, the CIRB’s mandate is two-fold:

  1. to support constructive labour-management relations in the sectors regulated by Part I of the Canada Labour Code;
  2. to contribute to Canada’s cultural community by encouraging constructive professional relations between artists and producers in federal jurisdiction.

In order to fulfill its mandate, the CIRB provides a variety of dispute resolution services. The CIRB undertakes a wide range of industrial relations activities in matters related to federal jurisdiction industries. These activities include certifying trade unions, investigating complaints of unfair labour practice, issuing cease and desist orders in cases of unlawful strikes and lockouts, rendering decisions on jurisdictional issues, and dealing with complex situations arising from a sale of business. It does so with a commitment to process, hear and determine applications and complaints fairly, expeditiously, and economically. Before adjudication, it plays an active role in helping parties to resolve their disputes through mediation and alternative dispute resolution approaches.

1.1 Objectives of the Research

As part of its role, the Board engages in consultation with its clients and ensures open lines of communication with the industrial relations community. Additionally, a key priority for the CIRB is to continue to improve service delivery to its clients, and to contribute to productive, effective workplaces that are free from service disruptions, and, ultimately, deliver programs and services to Canadians that provide economic, social and cultural benefits.

EKOS Research Associates was commissioned by the Board to conduct a survey of client satisfaction. EKOS advised the Board on the finalization of the survey questionnaire, administered the pretest, conducted the survey (online and by telephone), analysed the data and reported on the findings.

The Board’s research on client satisfaction is directly related to the Government of Canada’s management framework on results for Canadians. Most significantly, it supports the government’s initiative on client-centered service delivery, and ultimately leads to better quality information for parliamentarians about the Board’s programs and results.

This survey is the first client satisfaction survey being conducted by the CIRB. The objective of the research is to provide the organization with reliable, up-to-date information on the degree of its clients’ satisfaction with the services they have received (between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013), and identify possible areas for improvement. The survey results will be used exclusively by the CIRB; the intention is to communicate the findings internally, through the Performance Management Framework, as well as to the CIRB’ client community.

1.2 Methodology

The research population consisted of 1,974 CIRB clients who had dealings with the Board under the Canada Labour Code between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013. These consisted of employers, bargaining agents and individual employees, as well as their legal representatives. They involved private sector works, undertakings and businesses that come within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada. These include:

  • Broadcasting and telecommunications
  • Chartered banks
  • Postal services
  • Airports or air transportation
  • Interprovincial or international transportation of goods or passengers by road, railway or ferry
  • Grain handling and uranium mining and processing
  • Some First Nations undertakings
  • Federal crown corporations
  • Private sector employees in Nunavut, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories

The survey questionnaire was designed by the CIRB, reviewed by EKOS and then pretested in both French and English. The final questionnaire took approximately 18 minutes to complete. The CIRB provided EKOS with a list of clients and their contact information. All 1,974 clients were asked to participate in the survey and were given the opportunity to complete the questionnaire by a variety of modes (telephone, online, mail/fax). Fieldwork was conducted from March 5-May 9, 2014 (please note that fieldwork in Quebec was delayed due to the Quebec election).

A total of 563 clients participated in the survey, including 329 by telephone and 234 online. The survey response rate for the telephone survey component was 27 per cent; the response rate for the online component was 26 per cent.

1.3 Overview of Report

The survey findings discussed in this report are organized according to the main issue groupings contained in the questionnaire (e.g., Processing of Applications/Complaints, Mediation Services, Representation Votes). The results are presented for the overall survey population, as well for subgroup populations (i.e., according to Regional Offices dealt with by clients, and by client type).

A number of questions had significant proportions of respondents who indicated that it was “not applicable”. In presenting the results to these questions, we therefore used valid percentages. That is, we removed the “not applicable” cases from the sample when calculating the results. This approach presents a clearer measure of client satisfaction. The proportion of respondents who indicated that a question was “not applicable” was, however, included in the graphical presentation of results in order to add context to the satisfaction results.

The survey placed emphasis on understanding the reasons behind instances of client dissatisfaction, and respondents were given many opportunities to suggest ways in which CIRB services could be improved. This probing took the form of open-ended questions; clients were asked without prompting to provide their opinions and suggestions. The qualitative data produced by these questions were analysed and grouped into response categories based on commonality. Please note that, in many cases, relatively few respondents provided comments to these open-ended questions, so percentages could not be associated with these results.

2. Detailed Findings

2.1 Processing of Applications and Complaints

The Board receives applications and complaints in the areas of Labour Relations (Canada Labour Code Part I), Health and Safety (Canada Labour Code Part II), and Artists and Producers (Status of the Artist Act). Applications and complaints pertain to a range of matters, including certification,revocation, complaints against bargaining agents, and unfair labour practices.

a) Satisfaction with CIRB Channels

The survey began by asking respondents how satisfied they were with the CIRB service channels they used during their interaction with the Board’s Regional Office (i.e., telephone, email, and in-person).

Results reveal the vast majority of clients were satisfied with the service channel(s) they used. All three service channels garnered very similar satisfaction results, with close to nine in 10 clients assigning a rating of four or five on a five-point satisfaction scale to the in-person channel (88 per cent), followed closely by 87 per cent satisfaction accorded to telephone, and 84 percent for e-mail. Very few clients said they were dissatisfied (i.e., provided a rating of one or two on a five-point scale).

  • The level of client satisfaction with the three CIRB service channels is very consistent across the Regional Offices. This consistency of results across Regional Offices is a pattern we see throughout the survey results.
  • Analysis of results by client type shows that individuals (as compared to lawyers/business, business executives and union representatives) were significantly less satisfied with all three service channels. Lower satisfaction levels on the part of individuals relative to other client groups are found throughout the survey results.
Satisfaction with CIRB service channels

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b) Satisfaction with CIRB Regional Office Staff

Respondents were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with their most recent activity with the Board, both overall, as well as across nine service factors. The results reveal that a strong majority of clients (87 per cent) expressed overall satisfaction with their most recent interaction with CIRB staff. Satisfaction levels across the nine service factors are in the same range as the overall satisfaction level, varying narrowly from 84 to 95 per cent satisfied. The factors with the highest levels of satisfaction were service provision in the official language of the client’s choice, and, the courteousness of the CIRB officer (95 and 94 per cent satisfaction levels, respectively). The perceived fairness and impartiality of the CIRB officer received the lowest satisfaction level, although 84 percent of respondents still expressed satisfaction with this issue. The proportion of clients who were dissatisfied with their most recent interaction with CIRB staff, both overall and across the nine service factors, was less than 10 per cent.

  • Satisfaction levels, both overall and across the nine service factors, were remarkably consistent across the six regional offices. The only finding of note from the analysis of results based Regional Offices interaction is that clients who dealt with the Winnipeg Regional Office were significantly more likely to be dissatisfied with the timeliness with which the Board officer communicated with the parties (15 per cent were dissatisfied compared to an overall average of 5 per cent).
  • Individual clients provided significantly lower ratings to each question. For example, their overall satisfaction was 60 per cent compared to an average of 87 per cent, while 51 per cent indicated that they were satisfied with the fairness and impartiality of the treatment they received, compared to an average of 84 per cent.
Satisfaction with CIRB regional office staff

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c) Suggestions for Improvement in Filing Application/Complaint

As a follow up to the question on overall satisfaction with their most recent interaction with the CIRB, clients who indicated that they were either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” (i.e., either 1 or 2 on the 5-point satisfaction scale), were given the opportunity, unprompted, to describe what the CIRB “could have done better.”

The most common issue mentioned revolved around a belief that the case wasn’t given sufficient consideration, followed by a perceived bias in the process. There were also a number of suggestions that centered on a need to provide more information about the process.

Suggestions for improvement in filing application/complaint

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d) Perceived Changes in Quality of Service

The survey also asked clients to compare their most recent experience with their past interactions with the staff of the Board. The majority of respondents (81 per cent) indicated that their most recent experience was “about the same” as past interactions. However, clients who perceived a change were about three times as likely to judge their most recent experience to have been relatively “better” (14 per cent) than “worse” (5 per cent).

  • The results are consistent across the Regional Offices, suggesting improvement across the country.
  • Once again, we see that individuals held significantly less positive views: 22 per cent indicated that their most recent experience was worse than their past interactions with the Board, compared to an average of only five percent who felt this way.
Perceived changes in quality of service

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2.2 Mediation Services

The survey also asked a series of question about the Board’s Mediation Services.

a) Participation in Board-Sponsored Mediation

Results reveal that roughly four in 10 clients (43 per cent) said that they participated in a mediation process at some point between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013. Among those who participated in a mediation process, about two-thirds (64 per cent) were involved in more than one mediation. Results further reveal that mediation was much more likely to have occurred in-person (86 per cent) than by telephone (22 per cent).

Participation in Board-sponsored mediation

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b) Satisfaction with Mediation Process by Medium

Respondents who had participated in the CIRB’s mediation process at some point between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013, were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the channel method used to conduct their mediation. Results reveal that the majority of clients were satisfied with the channel through which their mediation was conducted. Eighty-five per cent express satisfaction with mediation by telephone, and an identical proportion are satisfied with in-person mediation. Among those whose last mediation experience included both telephone and in-person methods, a similar proportion (82 per cent), were satisfied. Most of the eight clients who indicated that their mediation was conducted by some other channel were also satisfied with the process.

Satisfaction with mediation process by medium

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c) Satisfaction with CIRB Mediation Process

Clients who had participated in a CIRB mediation process were also asked to indicate their level of satisfaction with the CIRB’s performance, both overall and with seven key aspects of the process. As shown below, strong majorities of respondents express satisfaction with the overall mediation process, as well as with each of its seven aspects. The ability of the CIRB to offer services in the client’s official language of choice received the highest rating at 98 per cent satisfaction, followed by the availability of services/mediator (93 per cent satisfaction).

The aspects of the mediation process that received the lowest ratings were the fairness and impartiality of the process (84 per cent were satisfied), and the ability of officers to manage difficult situations (82 per cent indicated satisfaction). It is noteworthy that relatively few clients (less than one in 10) expressed dissatisfaction with either the overall mediation process or any of its elements.

  • As we have seen in other results from the survey, client satisfaction levels are very consistent across CIRB Regional Offices. Only two ratings are of note: the Atlantic Regional Office garnered 97 per cent satisfaction on the ability of their officers to manage difficult situations (compared to an average of 82 per cent). And, clients whose mediation process was conducted by the Ontario Regional Office were less likely than other clients to perceive it as having been fair and impartial (79 per cent compared to an average of 84 per cent).
Satisfaction with CIRB mediation process

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d) Satisfaction with Intervention by Board Members

In some cases, members of a panel hearing a matter may be involved in mediation with the parties. Clients who had participated in a CIRB mediation process at some point between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013 were asked to indicate their level of satisfaction with the Board’s mediation assistance overall, as well as with four key elements. The intervention of panel members during a mediation hearing was judged not to be applicable by about one-quarter of the surveyed clients who had participated in a mediation process. Among those for whom the issue was relevant, 84 per cent expressed overall satisfaction with the CIRB’s mediation assistance (i.e., rated 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale). The ratings assigned to each of the elements of mediation assistance were very similar to the overall rating, with the exception of the ability of panel members to provide service in the client’s official language of choice, where fully 95 per cent expressed satisfaction.

  • The results are consistent across Regional Offices, although those who dealt with the Ontario Office were less likely to perceive the process to have been fair and impartial (76 per cent satisfied compared to 84 per cent overall).
Satisfaction with intervention by Board members

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e) Suggestions for Improvement to Mediation Services

The survey respondents who indicated that they had been “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” overall with CIRB’s Mediation Services were offered the opportunity, unprompted, to describe “what could have been done better”. Relatively few clients were dissatisfied, resulting in only a handful of clients providing comments. Suggestions revolved around a perceived need for greater impartiality and objectivity on the part of panel members, as well as a desire for greater transparency and increased communication throughout the process.

The survey also provided all respondents with the opportunity to suggest other dispute resolution services that the CIRB could offer. Almost nine in ten (87 per cent) did not provide a comment. The majority of those who did provide a comment simply called for the improvement of various aspects of the mediation process.

2.3 Representation Votes

The survey also examined satisfaction with representation votes.

a) Involvement with Representation Vote Process

This section of the survey began by asking clients whether they had been a party to an application for certification or revocation of certification that involved a representation vote conducted by the Board at any point from January 1, 2012 to December 21, 2013. Roughly one-quarter of respondents (23 per cent) indicated that they had been involved in a representation vote.

  • Among client types, individuals were about half as likely (11 per cent) to indicate that they had participated in a representation vote.
Involvement with representation vote process

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b) Satisfaction with Representation Vote Process

Results further reveal that a strong majority of clients who had been involved in a representation vote by the Board were satisfied with the overall process (80 per cent indicated 4 or 5 on a 5-point satisfaction scale). Moreover, close to nine in 10 (89 per cent) were satisfied that the process was clearly communicated, and 82 per cent expressed satisfaction with the timeliness of the vote.

Satisfaction with representation vote process

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As with other issues, clients who indicated that they were dissatisfied with the overall representation voting process were given the opportunity, unprompted, to describe “what could have been done better.” Only a few people provided a comment. Suggestions included simplification of the process, speeding up of the process, more transparency, and communication, and greater fairness and impartiality.

2.4 Case Management and Expedited Hearings

The Board can, at any time, order pre-hearing procedures such as case management conferences, to inquire into any matter that may promote the timely resolution of the issues. These preliminary proceedings are considered an integral part of the hearing process and the Board may make rulings in the course of these proceedings that are binding on the parties. The survey examined perceptions of this case management and expedited hearings.

a) Participation in Case Management Meetings

About one-third of the clients surveyed (34 per cent) indicated that they had participated in a case management meeting or teleconference before the CIRB at some point from January 1, 2012 to December 21, 2013. Results further reveal that two-thirds of those who had participated in a case management meeting in the period covered by the survey had been involved in more than one.

  • Regionally, clients who dealt with the Atlantic (56 per cent), National Capital (45 per cent) and Ontario (43 per cent) Offices were more likely to have participated in a case management meeting or teleconference before the CIRB.
  • Among client types, lawyers/business were more likely to have been involved in case management (58 per cent), while individuals were least likely (15 per cent).
Participation in case management meetings

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b) Satisfaction with Case Management Process

Satisfaction levels with the CIRB’s case management process, both overall, and with respect to key aspects, are very high. Nine in ten (89 per cent) were satisfied with the case management process overall. In terms of key aspects of the process, more than nine in ten were satisfied with the respect for the official language selected by the parties (96 per cent), and the timeliness of the case management meeting (91 per cent). More than eight in ten were satisfied with the opportunity to present their case (89 per cent), the fairness of the process (85 per cent), and adjournment requests (82 per cent). The lowest satisfaction levels were found in the availability of simultaneous translation services when requested in advance (75 per cent indicated satisfaction). However, with respect to translation services, it is noteworthy that no one expressed dissatisfaction; 25 per cent of those who used the service rated it “neutral” (i.e., 3 on a 5-point satisfaction scale).

Satisfaction with case management process

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As with the other key issues examined in this survey, clients who expressed dissatisfaction with the case management process overall were given the opportunity to suggest improvements. Few suggestions were made. Among those who provided a suggestion, most called for the process to be more objective, fair and impartial.

c) Participation in Expedited Process

Section 14 of the Canadian Industrial Relations Board Regulations, 2012 provides that certain matters may be dealt with in an expedited manner. These include, for example, applications for declaration of unlawful strike or lockout made under sections 91 and 92 of the Code.

When asked whether they had participated in a matter that falls under the Expedited Process at any point during the period under review (i.e., January 1, 2014 to December 21, 2013), 13 per cent of the clients surveyed indicated that they had, while the vast majority (87 per cent) indicated they had not.

  • Clients who dealt with the Quebec or National Capital Regional Offices were more likely than other clients to have participated in an expedited process (19 per cent each).
  • Lawyers/business were also more likely to have participated in an expedited process than other client types (19 per cent).
Participation in expedited process

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d) Satisfaction with Expedited Process

Respondents who had participated in an expedited process were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the process. A strong majority of clients (79 per cent) indicated that they were satisfied overall with the manner in which their case was dealt with under the expedited process. Three specific aspects of the process were also examined in the survey. Results are very positive across all of these issues, with more than eight in ten saying they were satisfied with the speed with which the decision was issued (88 per cent), the timeliness of their hearing (87 per cent), and the opportunity to present their case (85 per cent).

Satisfafction with expedited process

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Clients who expressed overall dissatisfaction with the expedited process (i.e., provided a rating of 1 or 2 on a 5-point satisfaction scale), were given the opportunity, unprompted, to describe the aspects of the process that could be improved. About half of the comments pertained to the timeliness of the process, including the suggestion that clients be given more time to prepare for their hearing and that the scheduling of hearings better reflect the availability of clients. Other suggestions called for the provision of more support to guide clients through the process.

2.5 Hearings

Board hearings are normally conducted by a panel of one or three members of the Board. The Board is not required to hold an oral hearing in every case. Section 16.1 of the Canada Labour Code (Part I–Industrial Relations) (the Code) makes it clear that the Board may decide any matter before it without holding an oral hearing. The Board makes the decision as to whether to hold an oral hearing on the basis of the documents on file and the written representations of the parties. A party requesting that a hearing be held in a matter must include detailed reasons why they think a hearing is required.

a) Participation in CIRB Oral Hearings

Survey results reveal that relatively few of the clients surveyed (27 per cent) participated in an oral hearing before the CIRB during the period of January 1, 2012 to December 21, 2013. Of those who did, a little over half (57 per cent) indicated that they were involved in more than one hearing during this time.

  • Clients who dealt with the Quebec Regional Office were more likely to have participated in an oral hearing (40 per cent compared to an average of 27 per cent). Similarly, respondents who dealt with the Quebec Offices were more likely to be involved in multiple hearings; 23 per cent had five or more hearings compared to an average of 13 per cent.
  • Lawyers/business were much more likely to have participated in an oral hearing (40 per cent), while only seven per cent of individuals said that they had done so.
Participation in CIRB oral hearings

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b) Satisfaction with CIRB Oral Hearings Process

Clients who had indicated that they had participated in an oral hearing were asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the overall process, as well as across eight key service aspects. Results reveal that client satisfaction with CIRB’s oral hearing process is very high, both overall (91 per cent satisfied), as well as with respect to the eight service aspects examined. Clients are particularly satisfied with the suitability of hearing rooms (97 per cent satisfaction), respect for the official language selected by the parties (96 per cent), accessibility of hearing sites (94 per cent), and, the opportunity to present one’s case (91 per cent). The lowest rated aspects of oral hearings were the timeliness of the hearings and the availability of simultaneous translation services when requested in advance; however, 81 per cent of clients were still satisfied with these aspects.

Satisfaction with CIRB oral hearings process

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The clients that expressed dissatisfaction with the oral hearing process were asked to describe, unprompted, what aspects of the hearing process could be improved. Given respondents high level of overall satisfaction with the oral hearing process, only five people provided a suggestion, with each person making a different point.

c) Involvement in Matters Decided Without Oral Hearings

The Board can decide any matter before it without holding an oral hearing. When asked if they were involved in such a matter during the period of January 1, 2012 to December 21, 2013, just over half of respondents (53 per cent) indicated that they had.

  • Having a matter decided without an oral hearing was less prevalent among clients who dealt with the Quebec and Western/BC Regional Offices.
  • Lawyers/business (63 per cent) were more likely than the other clients types to have had a matter decided without an oral hearing.
Involvement in matters decided without oral hearings

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d) Satisfaction with Processing of Matters Decided Without Oral Hearings

Results reveal client satisfaction with the processing of a matter without holding an oral hearing, overall and across three service dimensions, is high. Three-quarters or more are satisfied with the opportunity to present their case (79 per cent), the decision being issued in a timely manner (78 per cent), and procedural fairness (75 per cent). A similar proportion (74 per cent) are satisfied with the process overall.

  • The findings across Regional Offices are, once again, largely consistent. We do, however, find that clients who dealt with the Western/Winnipeg Office were less likely to express dissatisfaction with the process overall (4 per cent vs. an average of 19 per cent). The same gap is found with respect to the aspect of procedural fairness (4 per cent vs. an average of 19 per cent), and the opportunity to present one’s case (4 per cent vs. an average of 17 per cent).
  • Among client types, we find that individuals are much less likely than others to express satisfaction overall (31 per cent), as well as across the three service dimensions: opportunity to present case (35 per cent), timely decision (45 per cent), and procedural fairness (27 per cent).
Satisfaction with processing of matters decided without oral hearings

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e) Suggestion for Improvement to Process

Clients that expressed dissatisfaction with the process involved when a matter is decided without holding an oral hearing were given the opportunity to suggest improvements. A number of these respondents suggested that clients be given more time to present their case (34 per cent), while many others felt that oral hearings were “the best way” to ensure procedural fairness (21 per cent).

Suggestion for improvement to process

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f) Satisfaction with CIRB Decisions

Clients were also asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the CIRB’s decisions. Three aspects of the Board’s decisions were examined: timeliness, clarity, and consistency with jurisprudence. Results reveal that a majority of clients were satisfied with each of the three decision aspects, with the highest rating being the clarity of decisions (80 per cent satisfaction), and the lowest rating accorded to the timeliness of decisions (73 per cent satisfaction).

  • Once again we see that individuals were much less likely to be satisfied than the other client types: only 36 per cent were satisfied with the decision(s) consistency with jurisprudence, 43 per cent with the clarity of the decision(s), and 52 per cent with timeliness.
Satisfaction with CIRB decisions

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2.6 External Communications

The CIRB’s officers are responsible for communicating with the Board's clientele and the public concerning information on the Board's policies, procedures and its jurisprudence as well as providing information concerning the contents of Part I of the Canada Labour Code (Industrial Relations). As is increasingly the case with other public and private sector organizations, the CIRB’s website has become a key communications tool. It serves as a hub for clients to access a range of general information (e.g., mandate of the Board, legislation, regulations, etc.), as well as more specific information on Board decisions. The CIRB’s website also contributes to the Board’s pursuit of transparency and accountability by enabling visitors to access statistics on the Board’s performance.

The survey included a number of questions examining clients’ experience with the CIRB’s website, as well as gauging their level of satisfaction with the website, and inviting suggestions for improving the site.

a) Use of CIRB Website

Most of those who responded to the survey indicated that they visited the Board’s website at some point between January 1, 2012 and December 21, 2013 (60 per cent). Among those who visited the site, about three-quarters said that they visited it either occasionally or frequently.

Use of CIRB website

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b) First Exposure to CIRB Website

Results suggest that clients learned about the Board’s website through a variety of means. In many instances, respondents indicated that they had known about the site for some time, while quite a few came to it through a general purpose search engine, such as Google or Yahoo. Other significant means of exposure included referral from a friend, colleague or CIRB representative, as well as via a government website or search engine.

First exposure to CIRB website

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c) Purpose of Visit to CIRB Website

Clients’ reasons for visiting the CIRB website were quite varied. As shown below, however, five types of information searches emerged as the most popular. First among these was to find out if a decision had been rendered on a case, followed closely by client searches of the legislation and regulations, as well as searches for information on process and procedures. Other popular search objectives included obtaining general information about the CIRB, as well as searching for a Certification order.

Purpose of visit to CIRB website

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d) Information Not Found on Website

Survey results further reveal that a clear majority of clients who visited the CIRB’s website found the information they were looking for (81 per cent). The 19 per cent who did not find the information they were seeking tended to indicate that they had been looking for information on decisions, as well as contact information.

Information not found on website

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e) Overall Satisfaction with CIRB Website

The survey also asked clients about their level of satisfaction with the CIRB website. Survey results reveal that, overall, about three-quarters (74 per cent) of those who visited the website were satisfied with the site, and less than one in 10 (7 per cent) expressed dissatisfaction with the site.

  • Among client types, individuals (56 per cent) were much less likely to express satisfaction with the site.
Overall satisfaction with CIRB website

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f) Satisfaction with CIRB Website

Client satisfaction with key elements of the website was a little more mixed. Nine in 10 respondents (89 per cent) indicated that the website was easy to find, and strong majorities (i.e., at least 70 per cent) agreed that the site’s information was accurate, up-to-date, easily understood, and complete. However, only about half (56 per cent) agreed that they easily found what they were looking for on the website.

  • As with many other survey findings, we find that individuals were significantly less likely to express satisfaction across the six website elements.
Satisfaction with CIRB website

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g) Concerns About Website

Clients who expressed dissatisfaction with any of the website elements were asked to explain the reason for their negative rating. Results suggest that those who assigned negative ratings to the website felt the website was difficult to use, with the search engine mentioned as a particular issue. Another key concern revolved around the view that information was incomplete/vague or missing.

Concerns about website

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h) Information to Make Website More Useful

Respondents were also asked, unprompted, if there was any information that would make the CIRB website more useful to them. Seventy-one per cent did not identify any other types of information that would make the website more useful. Those who did provide suggestions tended recommend that the search engine be improved, or that the website allow visitors to access the entire repository of decisions, certifications and accreditations.

2.7 Overall Assessment of the CIRB’s Services

a) Overall Satisfaction with Service Received from CIRB

The last section of the survey was dedicated to obtaining an overall assessment of the CIRB’s services from clients, as well as to provide them with a final opportunity to suggest improvements to make the CIRB’s services more helpful to labour-management relations.

A strong majority of clients (84 per cent) indicated that they were satisfied with the service(s) they received from the CIRB in the period covered by the questionnaire (January 1, 2012 to December 21, 2013). Dissatisfied clients numbered fewer than one in 10 (9 per cent).

  • Overall satisfaction levels are consistent across Regional Offices.
  • Among client types, only 49 per cent of individuals were satisfied with the services they received from the CIRB.
Overall satisfaction with service received from CIRB

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b) Recommendations for Improvement

In terms of recommendations for improvement, about 40 per cent of clients made at least one suggestion for making the CIRB’s services more helpful to labour-management relations. However, suggestions were varied with no issue being mentioned by more than 8 per cent of these respondents. Several suggestions pertained to improving the timeliness of procedures, for example by simplifying procedures and reducing delays (8 per cent), and keeping clients informed throughout the process (6 per cent). Other suggestions revolved around improving the CIRB’s online presence and implementing the use of E-tools, including giving clients the option of filling applications online and improving the website’s search engine (5 per cent), or improving the timeliness of decisions (5 per cent).

Recommendations for improvement

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3. Conclusions and Implications

Results from the CIRB’s client satisfaction survey are very positive. Across virtually all of the areas/issues examined clients express high levels of satisfaction. The results are particularly impressive given the complex and potentially contentious nature of the matters that the Board deals with. Investigating, mediating and adjudicating issues arising out of workplace disagreement or conflict has tremendous scope to leave one or more of the parties involved in a matter dissatisfied or even resentful. Yet, the majority of satisfaction indicators from the survey are in the 80 to 95 per cent range.

The results are also remarkably consistent. Satisfaction levels are high across the key service offerings/interactions examined in the survey; there is no service aspect or set of issues that elicited low satisfaction levels. Similarly, we found very little variation in client satisfaction levels across Regional Offices.

The survey evidence also suggests that quality of service at the CIRB may be improving over time: clients were three times as likely to say that their most recent interaction with the staff of the Board was “better”, rather than “worse”, compared with their past interactions.

However, the survey revealed satisfaction levels among individuals are consistently lower than those of other client types. And, in many cases, these differences are large. It may be that compared to union and association representatives, business executives, and certainly lawyers, individuals are not as well equipped to shepherd their case through the CIRB’s processes, resulting in lower satisfaction.

It should be also be noted that, while mentioned by relatively few respondents, in some of the open-ended questions aimed at examining areas for improvement, a belief that the Board should be more impartial was mentioned several times, suggesting this may be an area potentially in need of attention from the Board.

Finally, while satisfaction with many aspects of the CIRB’s website is high, only about half of those who visited the site easily found what there were looking for, suggesting this may also be in need of some attention.


APPENDIX A: SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE (list of questions that were asked in the survey)

The survey questionnaire is available upon request by sending an email to the CIRB.

APPENDIX B: Message from the Board

Participation in the Canada Industrial Relations Board Client Satisfaction Survey

Sir / Madam:

The Canada Industrial Relations Board (the CIRB) has retained the services of an independent research firm, EKOS Research Associates (EKOS), to conduct its first client satisfaction survey. The survey will measure the level of satisfaction of clients in regard to both their interaction with the CIRB’s staff and their use of its various services, tools and processes.

In the coming days, you will receive an email from EKOS with a link to the survey. I would very much appreciate it if you could complete the survey by the date set out in the email. EKOS will compile and analyze the data and participant comments. Please note that, although your participation is very important to us, completing the survey is voluntary.

All survey responses will remain strictly confidential, and results will be reported in aggregated form only so that no individual, union or company can be identified. Only EKOS will have access to the individual questionnaires and participant’s comments in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act. This means that EKOS will keep private and confidential any personal information collected, created or handled during the survey and will not use, copy, disclose, dispose of or destroy such personal information except in accordance with the Privacy Act.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you in advance for your cooperation. Your participation in the survey will support the CIRB in its continuing efforts to improve its services.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth MacPherson
Chairperson

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