Former Halifax Citadel workers go to court to find out who’s the boss

Workers for nonprofit organization say they were managed and paid by Parks Canada but were paid less for same work as Parks Canada employees

Three former employees at the Halifax Citadel Historic site will be going to federal tax court to find out who they actually worked for.

Anthony Kiley, Mark Hubley and Kandra Surette were employed with the Halifax Citadel Regimental Association, a nonprofit organization that provided staff to the Citadel, which is run by Parks Canada. Parks Canada frequently contracts out work to heritage organizations such as the regimental association to perform duties at many locations it administers, which it says opens the opportunity for regular citizens to participate in the maintenance of its sites and is less costly.

Because the three workers weren’t Parks Canada employees, they didn’t receive the same pay and benefits as others who performed the same jobs. Feeling they weren’t being fairly compensated, in September 2005 they complained to a supervisor, who Kiley said told him he would be fired. The three workers then filed a request with the Canada Revenue agency for a ruling of employment.

Kiley and Hubley said they were fired after they initiated the process and Surette said her job was eliminated while she was on sick leave due to stress from the situation.

The workers claimed they should be considered Parks Canada employees because they reported to a Parks Canada manager, supervised federal employees, wore standard Parks Canada uniforms and had all compensation and leave approved by a Parks Canada manager. However, they received less pay for the same work as Parks Canada employees.

“We were third-class employees,” Kiley told the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

A July 2006 report by a Canada Revenue Agency appeals officer said the three did work for Parks Canada, but the agency later ruled they were not. They disputed the finding and their case will be heard in federal tax court next month.

The Income Tax Act sets out the conditions that determine who is an employer, including: responsibility for payment of salary and benefits; level of control over the worker; who provides tools and equipment; who does the hiring; who bears financial risk; who manages the worker; and what any written contracts say.

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