Northern Quebec Employees - AENQ successfully contests unjustified assessment of millions in taxes



    MONTREAL, Aug. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - The Association of Employees of Northern
Quebec (AENQ), affiliated with the Centrale des syndicats du Québec, after
years of demands and struggle, has succeeded in ending the unfair taxation of
housing benefits provided to its members hired in the "South" by the Cree and
Kativik school boards.
    The Ministry of Revenue of Québec (MRQ) recently agreed to coordinate
efforts with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) in reimbursing the overpayment of
taxes on the value of housing provided to Association members, primarily
teachers, by the Cree and Kativik school boards. AENQ estimates that several
million dollars were collected in excess from its members in the past ten
years by both levels of government.
    In a letter sent on June 19, 2009, to the AENQ president, Mr Patrick
D'Astous, Ms Josée Morin, director of the Direction des lois et impôts du
Québec, writes, "For taxation years prior to 2009, taxpayers who have retained
their rights to opposition or appeal will be entitled to assessment based on
the fair market value as a taxable benefit of their dwelling..." AENQ members
who have followed the recommendations of their union in contesting the taxable
value of their housing will thus be reimbursed in the coming weeks and months.
    The MRQ and CRA action is a response to the wish expressed publicly by
AENQ in August of 2007. It should be noted that, since that time, the Cree
School Board concluded an agreement with the union that, as of 2007, ended the
unjust over-taxation of its employees in an amount estimated to be in excess
of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

    A flagrant lack of fairness

    The Kativik School Board (KSB) alone is dragging its feet, even though
the union and the government have provided it with all the instruments
necessary to rectify the situation. AENQ has therefore instituted legal
proceedings to ensure that its members' rights are protected. The Association
hopes, nevertheless, to persuade the KSB without recourse to arbitration.
    In Whapmagooftui-Kuujjuaraapik, the four employees in the Cree and Inuit
health and education sectors are governed by entirely different policies for
the evaluation of housing. "The lack of fairness becomes flagrant when an
employee's taxes are based not on the type of housing he or she is provided
but on the name of the employer, even though everyone is ultimately employed
in the civil service of Québec," notes Mr D'Astous.

    Retention of personnel is closely tied to quality of life

    "Roughly 300 teachers hired from outside the communities work in Nunavik
in order to provide the educational services to which Inuit children are
entitled. We want to persuade the KSB that the quality of life, including
fairness in taxation, that is offered to qualified teachers who accept to face
the challenges of working in Northern Québec is an essential element in the
retention of personnel. In the end, it is the quality of public educational
services to Native populations in the North that suffers," remarked AENQ
president, Patrick D'Astous

    Portrait of AENQ

    The Association of Employees of Northern Québec (AENQ), founded in 1971,
represents over 1,500 members working as teachers and school support workers
for the Cree School Board and the Kativik School Board. It also represents
employees of five Cree childcare centres. AENQ is an affiliate of the Centrale
des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).




For further information:

For further information: Dany St-Jean, Press attaché, CSQ, Cell.: (514)
212-5457

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