PIPSC NRC Newsletter July 2018

RO/RCO Group

Research Officers and Research Council Officers Group Executive Members (2018)

Cathy Cheung

Devanand Pinto

Mary Zborowski

Keith Yeung

Chief Steward
Stephan Grosse

Daniel Durand

Patricia Loder
Goose Bay

Suwas Nikumb

Carsen Banister

Craig Bihun

Feng Ni

Please print this newsletter and post it on the union bulletin board in your facility. If you don’t have a union bulletin board or are not sure where it is, contact us: rorco@pipsc.ca. Past newsletters and other updates from our group are available from our website:

http://www.pipsc.ca/groups/nrc-ro-rco or http://www.pipsc.ca/fr/groupes/cnrc-ar-acr

Report from the NRC RO/RCO group president, Cathy Cheung

Summer is finally here!

Collective bargaining update:

I am pleased to report that the last round of collective bargaining has now concluded with the signing of the Collective Agreement on August 9, 2018.  NRC now has 120 days to implement the changes including issuing retroactive pay and updating salary rates.  A tremendous THANKS to the bargaining team for their tireless efforts in reaching the agreement (Susan O’Donnell, Daniel Durand, Jeff Zidichouski, Craig Bihun, Cathy Cheung, negotiator Nick Pernal).

With the federal election looming in the Fall of 2019, we are moving forward with planning and preparing for the next round of negotiations.  We are hopeful that we might be able to reach a tentative agreement before the next federal election, with Treasury Board, NRC and PIPSC all in support of this goal. 

We will be sending out a bargaining survey to all members in the coming months to solicit your input on issues that will help inform our next set of bargaining priorities and proposals.  As such, I urge you to update your contact information (i.e. email address to your non-NRC email address) at PIPSC so that you are able to access the survey outside of NRC and on a non-NRC device.   Please note that while you may have provided your personal email address to the RO RCO Group at local meetings, PIPSC headquarters may not have this address unless you have specifically provided it through the change address form (http://www.pipsc.ca/member-tools/change-of-address or http://www.pipsc.ca/fr/outils-des-membres/changement-addresse).  Please check the Group website frequently for announcements and updates (http://www.pipsc.ca/groups/nrc-ro-rco or http://www.pipsc.ca/fr/groupes/cnrc-ar-acr). 

Update on some RO RCO Group activities:

We have held 2 of 4 lunch meetings with members scheduled for this year.  The first was in Saskatoon on May 11, 2018 with about 25 members in attendance.  The second was in Ottawa M36 on June 14, 2018 attended by about 71 members.  Our next visit is scheduled with Charlottetown members on September 14, 2018.  The final visit will be back in Ottawa coinciding with the Group AGM on December 7, 2018.  Please mark your calendars for these events and plan to attend.

The new promotion criteria and format for researchers were launched in February 2018 for the July 2018 round.  There are significant changes to both the categories (satisfy 2 of 3) and the format (e.g. Curriculum Vitae).  Don’t be caught off guard!  If you have a D3 or D4 case coming up, please review the criteria and format well in advance so you can begin collecting the relevant information and preparing the documents. The information on the criteria and format are available on MyZone.

Useful pages to bookmark in MyZone:

Wishing you a wonderful summer!

Cathy Cheung


RO RCO Group Executive 2018

From left to right: (back row) Dev Pinto, Stephan Grosse, Mary Zborowski, Pat Loder, Feng Ni, Daniel Durand, Suwas Nikumb, Keith Yeung; (front row) Carsen Banister, Cathy Cheung, Craig Bihun


Report on the Promotion Criteria

The RO/RCO promotion criteria are currently under review by a committee led by Emily Harrison (acting VP HR) and composed of human resources, management and two RO/RCO  executive members (Pat Loder and Dev Pinto). For members whose primary role is research, the criteria have been approved by the Senior Executive Committee and were implemented for the first time this past July. We are preparing to participate in the next step, which is revision of the criteria for members working in non-research areas such as IRAP, BMS and project management and facility management.  The process is led by HR with the RO/RCO group participating in a consultation capacity, which means that while we do not have approval authority over the policy, we can make recommendations and work to ensure that the criteria and the evaluation process are fair, reasonable and equitable. 

In addition to working on the criteria themselves, we are seeking feedback from members who have submitted cases to either the Human Resources Promotion Committee (HRPC) or to management in their research center, in the case of degree 1 increments. If you have feedback or would like to discuss the process, please contact Dev Pinto (Devanand.pinto@gmail.com) or Stephan Grosse (StephanGrosse@pipsc.ca).

Gearing up “Mental Health in the work place”: how your union can help

As defined by the Mental Health Commission of Canada in its “National Standards of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety (2013)” and articulated in an online page of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/mentalhealth), “Mental health is a state of well-being in which a person understands his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Yet, such a state of well-being appears to be more and more difficult to sustain and mental health problems “impact the greatest number of people in the middle of their working years, which lowers the productivity of the work force”, declared by our union, The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) in its recently-released Mental Health Resource Guide (http://pipsc.ca/news-issues/announcements/pipsc-launches-mental-health-resource-guide).  A more recent survey (December, 2017) conducted in Public Service Sector of Canada  re-enforces a worsening picture than already known through previous Statistics Canada studies that “47% of working Canadians consider their work the most stressful part of their day and life”. A related survey conducted at the National Research Council of Canada revealed that mental health and work overload top the list of concerns among the nation's brightest minds.

What can our union and the members ourselves do to help sustaining mental health in the workplace and preventing or at least slowing down “what is becoming a mental health epidemic” (source - http://pipsc.ca/news-issues/announcements/pipsc-launches-mental-health-resource-guide)?. This is a question that has been discussed at every recent session of the monthly teleconference/meetings of the PIPSC NRC RO/RCO Group Executive since the beginning of 2018. We describe here briefly some of the pertinent information we have acquired about mental health and list some useful resources that may be of use to interested members. We outline, in particular, recent resources and initiatives available for stress management, work-life balance, reducing harassment and managing technological concerns such as digital dependence and its impact on mental fitness.

An Expanded View Toward Mental Health. In 2013, the Mental Health Commission of Canada defined the scope of mental health in its “National Standards of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety”, in which it is stated that “.....Psychological (mental) health and safety is embedded in the way people interact with one another on a daily basis and is part of the way working conditions and management practices are structured and the way decisions are made and communicated.....”. The same document outlines the necessity of maintaining mental health: “......Workplaces with a positive approach to psychological health and safety are better able to recruit and retain talent, have improved employee engagement, enhanced productivity, are more creative and innovative, and have higher profit levels…”.

This so-called continuum model of mental health has been adopted by the Government of Canada in the launching of a training workshop in August, 2014 on “Mental Health in the Workplace: Fostering psychological health and safety” that has been in continuous offering and in high demand up to this day by all Government Departments (http://www.jlp-pam.ca/mentalhealthintheworkplace-santementaleenmilieudetravail-eng). From this expanded view, one should be concerned not simply about diagnosed mental illnesses and mental health problems, but more importantly about promoting mental fitness.

“Don't Sweat that Small Stuff”: The first week of October each year is the world's Mental Health Week, during which Health Canada launched its LifeSpeak campaign in 2017 through the Employment Assistance Services (EAS), the largest national Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider to Canada's federal public service. Everyone on the public service can browse to the website “canada.lifespeak.com” and create a confidential account (using “canada” as the ID). There, numerous online videos are just at a click away for getting informed about various mental health topics such as speaking up, effective communications and work-life balance.

The NRC Human Resources (HR) branch has offices at every site across the country offering employee assistance with or without the official Employee Assistance Program. In fact, most of HR personnel (for example at the Montreal Royalmount site) have been trained since 2016 in Mental Health First Aid.  One can speak up and talk it over, with a little help, “even the tough problems can be cut down to size”.

Civility in Communication: The recent Public Service Survey across NRC also revealed some issues in effective communication since respondents at some sites report elevated aggresivity around them, especially from colleagues and co-workers.  Elevated emotions and increased tension are inevitable during times of constant change and uncertainty. According to HR personnel trained in Mental Health First Aid, what is needed here is increased civility in our communication style/habits, such as taking the needed time to talk things over, which is becoming more and more difficult in this age of digital connectivity (see below).

Mental Health Initiatives Across the NRC. Since a few years back, there has been grass-root movements across the Council (driven by the different sites or research centres) to promote mental (and physical) health in the workplace. For example, a meditation room was constructed at the Human Health Therapeutics Research Centre (formerly HHT Portfolio)'s Montreal Royalmount Site. There are exercise classes at lunch time, such as yoga, essentrics, metafit and metapwr courses opening to all employees.  HHT also organizes a reading club of the popular "Search Inside Yourself" meditation and mindfulness book for the corporate world (and in life in general) (https://www.mindful.org/search-inside-yourself). Other examples include:

  • AST has a wellness committee that organizes the activities for the NAOSH week at all AST sites;
  • At Boucherville, there is always someone who organizes yoga sessions;
  • M50 has a wellness committee that puts together activities such as the very popular “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” workshop in 2016, televised across NRC.

NRC employees are encouraged  to actively participate in wellness committees (or to create one) and/or to organize the sessions, workshops and/or trainings that are of interest. Since Mental Health Initiatives have been driven by individual sites across the country, the NRC management is working to clarify how to manage the time expended in promotion and/or participation. At the Montreal Royalmount site, for example, some management approved events can take place during working hours, but 50% of the time is to be covered by participant’s overtime of that same day or another day. Many other activities are entirely voluntary and are expected to occur outside of the normal working hours.

Managing “Digital Dependence”: PPISC 's recent Mental Health Resources Guide also singles out “Technological Concerns” as one of the four main contributors to mental health issues from the workplace. The other three are job stress, workload or work-life balance and violence (such as bullying and harassment), some of which were already related to in the above commentaries.

In terms of technological concerns, one of the most hotly-debated has to do with (computer) screen-addiction or digital dependence in this era of instant connectivity.  Recent studies in psychology and cognitive sciences have shown that “humans’ neural architecture evolved under conditions of close, mostly continuous face-to-face contact with others and that a decrease in or removal of a system’s key inputs may risk destabilization of the system” (Ref. 7). The most disconcerting is the findings of the rise of mental health problems during 2010 and 2015, especially in that “adolescents who spent more time on new media (including social media and electronic devices such as smartphones) were more likely to report mental health issues. On the other hand, “Adolescents who spent more time on non-screen activities (in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, etc, were less likely.” (Ref. 7).

Within a technology-intensive organization such as NRC, most workers spent their working day with computers (screen) to collect and process data, retrieve and analyze (literature) information as well as writing reports and communicating research findings. The associated stress is self-evident now that the constantly-connected population (using handheld computers or smartphones) has been shown to exhibit elevated mental health problems. Hereby lies the wisdom for PIPSC's recommended ways of maintaining mental fitness (Ref. 3): personal hobbies, exercise, journal keeping, humor sharing with colleagues and friends and staying positive – now hopefully all away from screens and smartphones!

Key Resources Reference:

(1) National Standards of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety (2013): www.mentalhealthcommission.ca.

(2) Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS): https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/wellness/mentalhealth.

(3) The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada's Mental Health Resources Guide: (http://pipsc.ca/news-issues/announcements/pipsc-launches-mental-health-resource-guide).

(4) The Joint Learning Program's "Mental Health in the Workplace" workshop: (http://www.jlp-pam.ca/mentalhealthintheworkplace-santementaleenmilieudetravail-eng).

(5) Employee Assistance Services' LifeSpeak: canada.lifespeak.com.

(6) Search Inside Yourself: https://www.mindful.org/search-inside-yourself.

(7) Digital Dependence and value of human contacts: Jean M. Twenge, Thomas E. Joiner, Megan L. Rogers, and Gabrielle N. Martin,  Clinical Psychological Science (2018), Vol. 6(1) 3-17

Prepared by Feng Ni, Ph.D. PIPSC steward and Member of the PIPSC NRC RO/RCO Group Executive

Reporting hours of work

The Executive wishes to remind members of the importance of accurately recording working times in the SAP Sigma system. While we recognize that this activity is generally considered a nuisance by many people, knowledge of accurate working times is vital for collective agreement negotiations. The data collected in Sigma are used to understand the working conditions of members and form the basis of negotiations related to pay, vacation time, and other benefits. Quite simply, it is difficult for our negotiators to argue that the membership is working more than 1950 hours/year when the members only enter in the minimum required hours. Another important reason for accurately recording working times is so that NRC can accurately determine the cost of projects. 

For members on 1950 hours/year, please enter accurate hours under the “1000” time coding for Monday to Friday. Weekend and holiday hours can be recorded under the “1040” time coding. For members on 37.5 hours/week, hours worked in addition to regular attendance hours (code “1000”), should be recorded under the “1010” time coding.

PIPSC RO/RCO Group-supported Events

If you would like to apply for some funding for your event, please tell us the date and your building/portfolio/branch and the number of attendees, the RO/RCO executive group will gladly provide some financial support for your event. The support we can offer does vary depending on the number of attendees. For example, $200 will be provided for 20 attendees and $400 for 40 attendees

Detailed guidelines for the support are given as follows

  • Every RO/RCO member in your building, portfolio or branch should be included in the invitation to the event.
  • The Group will support one request per year per building/portfolio/branch.
  • Any request should be sent to rorco@pipsc.ca, and also to the Treasurer of the RO/RCO executive committee (listed on http://www.pipsc.ca/portal/page/portal/website/groups/nrc-ro-rco/exec).
  • Funding will be provided based on the actual number of RO/RCO members attending the event.
  • Funding formula:
    • 20 or fewer members, $20 per member, maximum $200.
    • Additional 20 members (21-40), $10 per member, maximum $200.
    • Additional 20 members (41-60), $5 per member, maximum $100.
  • Members attending must be informed that the event was supported by the PIPSC NRC RO/RCO group and that more stewards are needed to represent our members.
  • A photo of the event and a sign-up sheet must be sent along with the receipt for reimbursement to rorco@pipsc.ca and also to the Treasurer of the RO/RCO executive committee.
  • The reimbursement is the total amount on the receipt(s) or the amount determined by the funding formula above, whichever is less.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Ongoing call for Location-based Representatives

The NRC RO/RCO Group is seeking volunteers to serve as local representatives for the RO/RCO Group in their respective Research Centres/Division. Generally, there is one representative per Research Centre/Division. When a Research Centre has multiple locations, it is good to have a representative in each location.

If anyone is interested in volunteering a small portion of your time to serve as an Location -based representative, please send an email message to rorco@pipsc.ca .

RO/RCO Executive Committee Meetings; As NRC has many physical locations across the country, executive visits will normally occur once every 6-7 years at the regional facilities and every year in Ottawa where about half our members are based. However, if you feel a pressing need for the executive to visit your workplace sooner rather than later, please contact the executive at rorco@pipsc.ca .

Most recent RO/RCO Group information will be on the PIPSC web site, under Groups:

The PIPSC Main website can be explored using http://www.pipsc.ca/

PIPSC’s has dedicated team of EROs hired full time to provide you with labour relations representation and advice as and if needed to you. Note that there have been some recent changes in the Prairie Provinces with regard to the provision of ERO support.

PIPSC Employment Relations Officers (EROs) for all the NRC groups in Ottawa (NCR) are as follows:

For National Research Council Members in Business & Professional Services,

Business Management Support, Corporate Management/Finance, Emerging Technology Division, and the President`s Office, your local ERO is Christine Poirier. She is located at the PIPSC National Office at 250 Tremblay Road, Ottawa and can be reached by email, cpoirier@pipsc.ca,or by telephone at (613)228-6310, or 1(800)267-0446, extension 4763.

For National Research Council Members in the Engineering Division or Life Sciences Division, your ERO is Bruno Hamel. He is also located at 250 Tremblay Road, Ottawa and can be reached by email, bhamel@pipsc.ca or by telephone at (613)228-6310 or 1(800)267-0446.

The EROs for all NRC in other regions are: Atlantic - Max Way mway@pipsc.ca, Quebec – Robert Melone rmelone@pipsc.ca, ONTARIO outside of the NCR - Sara Guillaumant-Fitzgerald sguillaumantfitz@pipsc.ca, Manitoba and Saskatchewan- Jeffrey Ryder jryder@pipsc.ca, Alberta – Kris Hawkins khawkins@pipsc.ca

and for BC/Yukon – Dulce Cuenca dcuenca@pipsc.ca.

Full contact info for the regional EROs can be found using the following link and then by clicking on your ERO’s name: http://www.pipsc.ca/about/contact-us/staff

Email - receive PIPSC correspondence by email. There is a Secure web link to fill out a form


You can specify an email address of your choice. The messages sent are very short as they generally do not contain any information, but direct you to a specific part of the PIPSC web site.


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