Questions and Answers for Potential Facilitators

Thank you for your interest in joining the dynamic team of facilitators of the Joint Learning Program (JLP).  Below is a list of questions commonly asked by new or potential JLP facilitators.

Facilitator Roles and Responsibilities

What are the roles and responsibilities of JLP facilitators?

JLP facilitators work with a co-facilitator to deliver JLP workshops. Facilitators must deliver a minimum of five (5) workshops to fulfill their commitment to the JLP. Once you have participated in the JLP Facilitator Orientation Session, you will be able to submit your name to facilitate upcoming workshops in your region. The Regional Field Coordinators (RFC) in your region choose a facilitation team from those who have submitted their names for each workshop.

JLP expects you to prepare carefully for each workshop. Your preparation will include liaising with the RFCs, your co-facilitator and the workshop organizers in the department. The organizers will coordinate the administrative and logistical requirements for the workshop and can provide you with valuable information on the learners and their needs. The co-facilitators also have a shared responsibility to prepare the workshop materials for the leaners.

Are all of the workshops co-facilitated?

Yes. Every workshop is co-facilitated by one facilitator who represents the union and by one who represents the employer.

Why does the JLP use the term "facilitator" rather than "trainer" or "instructor"?

JLP workshops have been designed to foster dialogue between union members and their supervisors and managers. The workshop leaders are not trainers but rather facilitators of a learning process. In order to create opportunities for dialogue and reflection, we use the methods of experiential learning and popular education for adults.

Facilitators guide learners through a series of activities that promote participation, discussion, reflection, critical analysis and problem solving. Learners are encouraged to draw on their own knowledge and experience to discover answers and develop strategies. The focus of the workshop is always on "learning" rather than "teaching".

So if we’re not "trainers" or "instructors", do we need to know the subject matter of JLP workshops?

While you are not expected to be a subject matter "expert", you are expected to develop a sound knowledge of the topic being addressed by the workshop. Being comfortable with the subject matter allows you to more effectively draw on the knowledge in the room as you facilitate learning activities and use the power of questions to promote discussion.

To help you build your subject matter knowledge and prepare for workshop delivery, the JLP learning kits provide facilitators with briefing notes, answer keys, participant handouts, links to various web sites and detailed explanations within each learning activity.

How much preparation time is involved?

As a general guideline, JLP suggests that facilitators plan to spend at least one day of preparation for every day of delivery. For a first workshop, a minimum of two days of preparation for a one-day workshop and three days for a two-day workshop is suggested. In practice, preparation time varies for every facilitator and for every workshop delivered. Some of the factors that will affect how long it takes to prepare include:

  • your personal preparation style,
  • your familiarity with the kit material,
  • whether you have previously worked with your co-facilitator,
  • whether your co-facilitator has previously delivered the kit,
  • how much printing of handouts needs to be done, etc.

In addition, each workshop requires contact with the workshop organizers who can provide background information on the workplace. Organizers are also responsible for distributing the Pre-Workshop Questionnaires (found in each learning kit) to the workshop participants and returning the responses to the co-facilitators of the workshop. The responses you receive will allow you to gather additional input from the participants and their workplace. This information will also be useful when you prepare to deliver certain workshop topics.  Their responses will help inform your choice of learning activities or select the most appropriate scenarios and case studies for the group.

During a JLP workshop can I share with participants some documents or material developed by my own Department?

No. The content for all JLP workshops have been jointly co-developed and approved by the union and the employer. Facilitators are expected to preserve the integrity of JLP workshops by only using and distributing JLP-approved material during JLP workshops. In addition, we want to ensure consistent workshop delivery across the federal government therefore we ask JLP facilitators not to modify workshop content.

I would like to facilitate workshops but I do not wish to facilitate in my own department. Is that possible?

Yes. Although, in some cases, candidates were solicited to become JLP facilitators because a workshop delivery need was identified in the department or agency. However, at the outset, some facilitators express a preference for facilitating outside their own department or agency. Because facilitators submit their names to facilitate specific workshops, those you deliver will depend on your interest and availability.

Will I be required to travel?

For the most part, facilitators will deliver sessions within their home regions. The JLP always tries to be cost effective in planning and delivering the workshops to limit travel time and expenses whenever it can.

If I am required to travel, who will pay for my travel?

Facilitators’ salaries (and overtime, if applicable) are paid by their departments or agencies. All other costs are covered by the JLP (e.g., facilitators’ travel expenses as per the National Joint Council’s Travel Directive, rental of off-site facilities for workshops, printing and shipping of learning materials, etc.) in accordance with its Facilitator Expense and Travel Guidelines. The JLP issues its own Travel Authorization Numbers (TAN) to facilitators and uses the unionized travel agency, W.E. Travel

What happens if I need to work overtime?

Because salaries are paid by your home department, overtime is a matter for discussion between you and your supervisor. The JLP encourages facilitators to travel and prepare during regular working hours. As a general rule, the JLP does not offer workshops on Mondays to allow for preparation (and travel if necessary) during working hours.

Applying to Become a Facilitator

What is the difference between a union JLP facilitator and employer JLP facilitator?

JLP facilitators representing the employer are individuals who meet most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • has been nominated or is endorsed by their departmental management;
  • may or may not pay union dues, but is not an elected union representative or a union activist; and
  • can comfortably and credibly present the management perspectives/views on workplace issues.

JLP facilitators representing the union are individuals who meet most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • is comfortable articulating the union perspectives;
  • is an elected union representative or holds a union position;
  • is an activist who regularly participates in union activities (on a voluntary basis); and
  • associates with and is generally seen as promoting the union perspectives/views on workplace issues.

Do JLP union facilitators need to hold a union position?

No. If you are applying to be a JLP facilitator representing the union, you are a member in good standing with your bargaining agent and you are supported and endorsed by this bargaining agent. Some JLP union facilitators do hold a union position while others are general members.

I am a member of a bargaining agent other than the Public Service Alliance of Canada, can I still apply to become a JLP facilitator?

Yes. Since 2011, all union members in eligible organizations within the federal public service can become JLP facilitators.

I am not a delegated manager. Can I still be a JLP employer facilitator?

Yes. Some employer facilitators are managers while others are selected by their organization to represent the employer within the JLP. Employer facilitators are sometimes union members, but they must not be union activists, union representatives or members of union committees.

Is it possible for a union member to be an employer facilitator?

Yes. Many managers in the Federal Public Service are, or have been, union members. Employer facilitators cannot be currently active in the union, for example, they cannot hold office, sit on bargaining agent committees, or facilitate bargaining agent events.

What is a "Support Contact" and who qualifies as one?

A support contact is someone who can confirm that the applicant will be a credible representative of the bargaining agent or the employer. The support contact for union facilitators will usually be a union representative or an elected union officer. The support contact for employer facilitators is often their manager or supervisor. It can also be someone other than the person identified in the “Manager or Supervisor” section in the online application form.

When selecting a support contact, applicants usually choose someone who actively promotes the JLP and can support their efforts as facilitators. The support contact is not a personal reference or someone who comments on the applicant’s abilities as a facilitator but rather someone who will endorse the applicant to become a facilitator.

Why is an email sent to an applicant’s supervisor or manager?

The success of the JLP depends on an active pool of volunteer facilitators who commit to delivering a minimum of five workshops. The JLP has found that building support from your manager with a solid understanding of the Program is a key factor in allowing you to fulfill your delivery commitment. The initial email to your manager and support contact outlines the benefits and responsibilities of JLP facilitation. If you are selected and invited to a JLP Facilitator Orientation Session, you and your manager will be asked to sign an agreement with the JLP so that the expectations are clear for everyone.

I am not interested in delivering all of the JLP topics. Will you still consider my application?

Absolutely. Many facilitators prefer to deliver only one of the workshop topics. Sometimes this is because the facilitators have an interest or knowledge in that area. In other cases, facilitators have discovered that by focusing on one topic, they can reduce their preparation time and deliver more effective workshops. 

When the JLP reviews your application, it does look at your workshop preferences in order to plan our JLP Facilitator Orientation Session. Once you have become a facilitator, it will be up to you to submit your name for the workshops you would like to facilitate. You will always be able to change or update your workshop delivery preferences.

Can National Defence military personnel apply to become JLP facilitators?

The JLP recognizes that civilian and military personnel are highly integrated within the Department of National Defence. A significant number of civilians and military members work side by side and under one another’s supervision in a variety of contexts. In fact, many DND civilians are supervised by military managers and joint workplace committees include military personnel that represent the employer at the Department of National Defence. As such, military personnel can apply to become JLP facilitators representing the employer, if they:

  • supervise civilian employees;
  • are considered employer representatives; and
  • have endorsement from their management to become JLP employer facilitators.

Workshop Delivery

How are JLP workshops scheduled? 

Union and management at any level jointly submit an online request to host a JLP workshop in their workplace. Once approved by the JLP, the workshop is posted on the JLP website and facilitators receive an email on the details of the workshop, such as the date, location, and topic. At this time, facilitators are invited to submit their names to deliver that workshop.

How are participants recruited and selected?

Workshop organizers (those responsible for the workshop logistics and who may have requested to host the workshop) identify union members and their managers or supervisors to participate in the workshop. Given that a key goal of joint learning is to improve union-management relations in the workplace, workshop participants often work together. JLP workshops are designed to encourage participants to build relationships, practice their problem-solving skills and identify actions they can work on together to implement back in the workplace.

How many participants are in each workshop and should workshops have a 50/50 employee and employer balance?

Because of the participatory methods used, JLP workshops are most effective when there are between 15 and 20 participants. Each workshop should not exceed 20 participants. It is not necessary to have equal employee-employer representation. The ideal is to have a mixture of staff, union members, supervisors and management representatives.

What are the organizers’ responsibilities and what are the facilitators’ responsibilities? 

Facilitators and organizers work together to create successful workshops. They are encouraged to contact each other early in the planning process. Each workshop has two organizers - one identified by the union and one identified by the department or agency. Organizers identify the location for the workshop, arrange for lunch and refreshments (if applicable), recruit and select participants and generally look after the logistics. Organizers are also responsible for distributing the Pre-Workshop Questionnaires to participants and facilitators will receive the results. Facilitators are responsible for the learning aspect of workshop planning and delivery, including preparing the workshop space and learning materials for the participants.

Who prepares the handouts and other learning materials?

The co-facilitators are responsible for all learning materials. When possible, we encourage facilitators to print handouts in their workplace. In some cases, organizers may be able to assist with preparing the handouts but ultimately this is the responsibility of the facilitators. The JLP provide materials such as tent cards and pamphlets for the workshop.

How do the Regional Field Coordinators select the facilitation team?

To select the co-facilitation team for workshops, the Regional Field Coordinators (RFCs) consider factors such as the facilitators’ availability, their experience facilitating that topic, travel costs and equitable distribution of facilitation opportunity. Each facilitation team must include a union and an employer representative.

There is an additional requirement for the co-facilitation team delivering the Respecting Differences / Anti-Discrimination workshops. These teams must include a member of an equity seeking group that has been historically disadvantaged in Canadian society. As well, both facilitators must be committed to the elimination of discrimination in all its forms and have experience with diversity and anti-oppression work.

Why is there an additional experience requirement for delivery of Respecting Differences / Anti-Discrimination? What does "experience with diversity / anti-discrimination work" mean?

Facilitating in what can be an emotionally charged environment requires skillful facilitation and a high degree of sensitivity and respect. Facilitators will need to rely on their own knowledge and experience to create a safe, supportive yet challenging environment. They also need to respond appropriately by drawing on their own analysis of discrimination and anti-discrimination when faced with difficult or potentially difficult group dynamics.

There are a number of ways a facilitator may have developed experience with diversity and anti-oppression work:

  • through direct experience with discrimination,
  • by taking courses and reading about privilege, racism, homophobia/transphobia and other human rights issues,
  • through involvement in an employment equity committee, or
  • by delivering diversity training.

Will I be working with the same co-facilitator for different workshops?

No. While some facilitators do ask to be partnered for more than one workshop, most enjoy working with different co-facilitators.

What is required to facilitate the Mental Health in the Workplace workshop?

Facilitators interested in delivering this workshop are required to be certified in Mental Health First Aid. When delivering this workshop for the first time, you will be in a three-person facilitation team. Alternatively, you can experience this workshop as a full participant. If you would like to be considered to facilitate this workshop, please contact your RFCs.

When I am delivering a workshop, what kind of leave should I take?

When you are delivering a workshop, you are not on leave. You are working, even though you are away from your usual workplace. If you are required to travel to facilitate a workshop, you will need to complete a Travel Authorization form with your management’s approval for the purpose of insurance coverage. The JLP does not require a copy of your completed form.

Facilitator Development and Support

What can I expect in the form of training and development?   

All potential JLP facilitators will participate in a five-day JLP Facilitator Orientation Session. During the orientation session, facilitators are introduced to the methods of experiential learning and are exposed to two JLP workshop kits, one of which will be used for practice facilitation.

For their first workshop delivery following the orientation session, RFCs generally pair new facilitators with a facilitator that has more JLP experience.

Within each region, facilitator clinics are held periodically with active JLP facilitators to either introduce new workshop kits or for facilitation skills development. The community of JLP facilitators is also an important source of support. The password-protected area of the JLP website contains contact lists for other JLP facilitators and we encourage you share ideas and materials with each other. This is where you will also find the workshop kits and other support materials that you can download.

I have a lot of previous facilitation experience. Am I still required to attend the JLP Facilitator Orientation Session?

Yes. The JLP requires all potential facilitators to attend the JLP Facilitator Orientation Session. It is designed specifically for the adult learner using the experiential approach. Participants of the orientation session learn about JLP facilitation methods through a series of facilitated activities drawing on the vast and varied experience of participants.

Can I use an activity from a JLP workshop for an event or a meeting in my workplace (i.e. team meeting, retreat, workplace committee on topic related to workshop)? 

JLP workshop content and learning activities were developed for the purposes of JLP workshops with joint union and employer participation. Each learning activity is designed as part of a greater learning objective and should not be conducted on its own, outside the context of a JLP workshop.

JLP facilitators are expected to preserve the integrity of JLP workshops by only using JLP activities, materials and documents in the context of JLP approved workshops or events. To obtain permissions for the use of JLP material, please contact the JLP RFCs for your region.

I still have questions. Who should I contact?

If you have general questions about the JLP, please contact your RFCs. If you have technical questions about completing the application form, please contact 613-560-2595 or