September 27, 2017

In attendance:

  • Bergeron, Marie-Josée
  • Godbout, Pierre
  • Gros-Louis, Marie-Claude
  • Joncas, Gaston
  • Lamothe, Manuel
  • Larouche, Jacques
  • Lebon, Maurice
  • Morency, Marie-Josée
  • Paquet, Jean-François
  • Pelletier, Georges
  • Stewart, Don
  • Tousignant, Aude
  • Villemaire, Philippe

1. Changes to the bargaining strategy

Georges Pelletier (GP) reminded members at our last meeting that he would try to negotiate directly with Treasury Board to promote the advancement of our biologists. He said he was sidestepping the DG, who has not been open to considering such changes at the LFC to date, after several attempts by various biologists to get their positions reclassified. After consultation with bargaining agent Suzelle Brousseau and classification specialist Eric Beaulne, we came to the conclusion that we need to do everything possible to work with her by documenting our demands in detail and the reasons those demands should be met. I was strongly advised to study the classification system used for biologists in order to determine whether certain biologists really are in a position to obtain a promotion.

2. Development of the new bargaining strategy

To start the process, they sent me a document (which Manuel had also lent me in the summer) with 32 criteria and indicators to assess the classification level of biologists. Based on these 32 criteria, I developed a questionnaire so that the actual level of each biologist could be assessed. This questionnaire will be sent to the biologists in the next few weeks. They will have to answer it as objectively as possible, recognizing that they will need to have written proof to show that they are really doing the work of a BI-3 (for those aspiring to get a promotion to the BI-3 level). The questionnaire will then be returned to Georges Pelletier, who will forward it to Sandra Guéric, PIPSC Labour Relations Officer. Sandra will then assess each person’s case to determine whether he or she has been correctly classified. She will send me a list of three categories of employees:

  1. Those who are doing a BI-3 job and who will be reclassified in the short term, retroactively if possible.
  2. Those who are borderline cases and who could possibly approach their supervisor to have more leeway in being involved in different types of work, for example, participating more actively in publications. These individuals can aspire to being reclassified in the medium term.
  3. Those who are definitely in a BI-2 job and cannot hope for a promotion in the medium term.

The results will be forwarded under separate cover to the different groups with advice that may be helpful in their future efforts. I will ask the biologists who have been selected for reclassification to send me a detailed list of their duties with supporting documentation (performance evaluations, publications, emails) showing that they are indeed performing those duties. Then a detailed report on the overall situation of biologists will be prepared for Jacinthe Leclerc and Lise Caron. The report will include a list of the biologists who, based on the study, should be reclassified as BI-3s, along with the details of the duties they perform and their tangible contributions. Then Jacinthe and Lise will read the report but will not be able to give their consent right away, even if they want to. First, they will have to designate someone from the government staffing office in Montréal to interview each of the selected biologists. The interviewer will verify whether or not the candidates should be reclassified to the BI‑3 level. If convinced, the interviewer will give Jacinthe and Lise the go-ahead to proceed with the reclassification. All Jacinthe will have left to do is to sign off and persuade the assistant deputy minister to approve the reclassification of the biologists selected.

3. Review of classification of biologists

Biologists are classified based on 32 criteria and indicators for the five levels (BI-1 to BI-5). The criteria are divided into the following five broad categories:

  1. Nature of the work (purpose, importance, diversity of activities and the latitude given to perform the duties)
  2. Complexity of the work
  3. Professional responsibilities
  4. Management responsibilities
  5. Impact of recommendations and activities

Unlike many positions in which the incumbents are evaluated based on a point system, biologists are evaluated in each of these categories. To qualify at a higher level than their current position, they must be performing duties that are predominantly in 3 of the 5 categories. They must also have tangible proof that they do indeed perform the duties in question, for example, through their performance evaluation. Verbal approval from the supervisor is not sufficient. You will find attached a sheet that I prepared with a summary of all the criteria and indicators. These were taken from the full Treasury Board document.

4. Questionnaire for the advancement of LFC biologists

I prepared a questionnaire based on the criteria and indicators that describe the various biologist levels, using the characteristics of BI-2s and BI-3s. The questionnaire consists of 35 multiple-choice questions (which may be changed slightly before they are sent out). Most of the questions are yes–no questions characterizing either the duties of a BI-2 or BI-3. The questionnaire must be completed as objectively as possible, knowing that you will eventually have to provide proof of what you do if you are selected. I encourage all biologists to complete the questionnaire, even those who think they will not qualify for the BI-3 level. The results will give you an idea of where you stand in your career and what you need to do in the medium term to advance professionally. Obviously, you will have to sit down with your supervisor to ask for more flexibility in your work and to contribute more actively to the publications, which would increase the productivity of your entire research team.

5. Questions and comments on the strategy

All of the participants seemed satisfied with the progress that has been made in promoting the advancement of biologist careers. Some were skeptical about the success of this approach for the two main reasons given by the Branch:

a) We cannot aspire to become a BI-3 because a new position has to be created and a competition has to be held.

False! If you can demonstrate that your duties are BI-3 duties, you are fully entitled to be reclassified.

b) The LFC does not have the money to pay the additional wages that would be required if a number of biologists were to be reclassified.

False! Salary budgets (A-base) are in no way linked to research budgets (B-base and C‑base). With the approval of the Branch, Treasury Board will release the funds needed to make up the wage difference for the biologists who have been reclassified.

6. Summary of the Quebec Stewards Council at Orford

Not covered due to a lack of time!

7. Summary of the meeting of the Eastern Quebec Sub-Group Presidents

Not covered due to a lack of time!

8. Other business

At the meeting of the Eastern Quebec Sub-Group Presidents, we were given the job of notifying the PC Group members to let them know that they are entitled to 21 more hours of training than those in other Groups. The training is to upgrade their career skills and provide guidance in more specific areas. None of the PCs at the LFC have availed themselves of this right so far. If they wish to do so, the SP Group Executive would like to know to what extent supervisors or the DG can approve this training.

The next SP Group meeting will be held sometime in November after we have received the evaluations of the biologist positions, which entails receiving the completed questionnaires.

I would like to thank all those who attended the meeting and particularly the PCs and FOs for your solidarity with the BIs.

Georges Pelletier
President and Steward
SP Sub-Group, NRCan
Quebec Region