Your bargaining team has submitted the SP Group pay proposal to Treasury Board for a Science and Research Pay Adjustment for all classifications and levels in the SP Group, in addition to a general economic increase (negotiated at the central table).

The Institute proposes that all SP Group classifications shall receive a four percent (4%) Science & Research Adjustment to be added to all classification levels, effective October 1st 2018, in addition to improving extending the current allowance of the BI-04s and BI-05s employees of the Health Product and Food Branch (HPFB) of Health Canada and extending it to the BI-03s with similar duties and responsibilities.

The following is a summary of our arguments in support of this proposal for each of the five (5) factors identified in the legislation (A to E) governing your negotiation regime and Phoenix challenges.

A.  Recruitment and Retention

The importance of science in meeting the needs of Canadians and protecting our way of life, cannot be overstated. In service for Canadians, our members play an integral role in all aspects of government, including health, the environment, climate change, agriculture, law enforcement, the economy, border safety, fisheries and oceans, safe food and drinking water. 

In the last round of bargaining we achieved recognition for the importance of scientific integrity.  In this round we are seeking an investment in the people responsible for ensuring scientific integrity.

With unemployment at a 4-decade low, a robust economy, and with the recognition, via Scientific Integrity policies, that scientific research is paramount to preserving the well-being of Canadians, it is important for the government to attract and retain the best and brightest scientists to protect and meet the needs of Canadians.

Canadians can ill afford a scientific brain drain.

B.  External comparators

This is easier said than done.

We have a diverse group of nine classifications in the SP Group.  The nature and diversity of the work makes finding comparisons difficult. Many organizations that compete for scientific talent do not publish their compensation programs.

Over the past decade, the SP Group has experienced a persistent year over year shortfall in comparison to wage increases in the private sector.  In addition, according to the Canada Labour Program, over the period of the last contract, our members have experienced a wage increase shortfall as compared to the settlements for provincial government employees, as reported by the Canada Labour Program for the period 2015 to 2018.

C.  Internal comparators.

In our previous contract, the SP Group has, with the employer, embarked on initiatives to harmonize classifications within the group structure. While there is still work to be done, we feel that in this round, under the cloud of Phoenix, there is a necessity to ensure we do not ignore some classifications, thereby creating additional pressure and discontent.

More importantly, when we compare classifications inside and outside the SP Group, such as to employees working in non-degree technical and support positions, the compensation relationship does not adequately recognize the intrinsic value of scientific versus technical positions.

The opportunity costs of pursuing degree vs non-degree for federal government science positions shows that it takes a long time to make up for the lost income. In some cases the lifetime earnings do not catch up. In other words, by not going to university for 4+ years and directly joining the federal public service, those in non-degree federal government science positions remain financially ahead of scientists for most, if not all, of their career.

D.  Fair and reasonable compensation for all.

There remains a growing perception that government is under-valuing science. There needs to be recognition of the value of science and the important work performed by our members.

Currently, compensation does not adequately recognize the intrinsic value of science in relation to the qualifications required, the work performed, the responsibility assumed and the nature of the services rendered, when professional classifications within the SP Group are compared with other professionals working elsewhere in the Federal Public Service.

E.   State of the Canadian Economy.

Due to a robust economic situation, Canadian unemployment is at its lowest level in several decades and the government's fiscal position has improved and program spending has increased.

Since 2010, our low economic increases, combined with the legislative change in employee pension contribution rates have resulted in a net deficit of 8.7% relative to inflation. This is significant.

F.   Phoenix...

The Employer wants to discuss pay administration issues and simplification, including an extension to the implementation period to allow for ongoing issues Phoenix has in handling basic payroll functions such as classification and compensation structure changes.

While PIPSC does not accept that the burden for a failed pay system should result in sub-standard pay and benefits for our members, in the interests of achieving a fair, equitable and practical compensation settlement, we proposed an across the board percentage increase, above the economic adjustment, to recognize the valuable contribution of our members to the quality of life for all Canadians.

The SP Group members contribute to a better Canada for all Canadians on a daily basis. It is time for our professional contribution to be recognized for what it is worth.

Better Together

Bryan Van Wilgenburg, Marcel Beaudoin and your SP Group Bargaining Team

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