The meeting took place at the Laurentian Forestry Centre from 12 noon to 1 p.m.

In attendance: Catherine Béliveau (BI), Marie-Josée Bergeron (BI), Chantal Côté (BI), Marie Deslauriers (BI), Pierre Godbout FO, Gaston Joncas (FO), Marie-Claude Gros-Louis (BI), Luc Guindon (PC), Alain Labrecque (BI), Denis Lachance (BI), Patricia Lavigne (BI), Fanny Michaud (BI), Marie-Josée Morency (BI), Simon Nadeau (BI), Georges Pelletier (BI), Gervais Pelletier (BI), Don Stewart (BI), Aude Tousignant (FO), Philippe Villemaire (PC).

1. Questions and comments on the last collective agreement

The comments on the last collective agreement were brief. Although we welcome the significant advances in terms of freedom of speech and the protection of our gains, which were almost lost under the Harper government, the BI-2s and PCs are still unhappy because we are the main groups who failed to receive a pay increment in the last set of negotiations.

2. Situation facing biologists and PCs across Canada

After becoming an SP Steward in April, I decided to look into whether the BI-2s working at the LFC—almost all of whom have not had a promotion in 25 years—were being discriminated against in comparison to other biologists working in other departments and regions. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a good proportion of BI-3s compared to BI-2s. Agriculture Canada has more BI-3s than BI-2s, although there are fewer of them in the Maritimes, Ottawa and British Columbia. Environment Canada has more BI-3s than BI-2s in the Maritimes, as well as in Quebec and British Columbia. Health Canada has more BI-4s (448) and BI-3s (296) than BI-2s (66). Only Natural Resources Canada has as many as BI-2s (20) compared with the BI-3s (only 1). Therefore, across all departments and regions, NRCan has the greatest disproportion of BI-2s versus BI-3s (particularly in Quebec).

The same type of work was done for the PC Group. They seem to have good opportunities for promotion, both nationally and regionally, and do not face as much discrimination as the LFC biologists, according to the figures in the table sent three weeks ago.

Why is the situation for biologists at the LFC so bad? In my view, our interests have not been defended, or have been poorly defended, for the past 20 years or more. Another interesting thing is that Quebec’s 69 members are represented by a single SP Steward (the lowest average by region), and Natural Resources Canada has only 8 SP Stewards, compared to 20 at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 24 at Health Canada and 54 at Environment Canada. But there may certainly be other reasons, which is why I will be continuing to investigate over the next few months.

3. Strategy and course of action for the next few months

There are three ways to give biologists at the LFC an opportunity for promotion:

  • Change the BI-3 job description
  • Give BI-3s more responsibility in their work
  • Reclassify their position

In principle, the first option is not possible because it is up to Treasury Board to change job descriptions. But since the job description has not been changed in 25 years, I think it is our duty to get Treasury Board to think about it. In addition, we should provide suggestions. The second option depends on you, and on the willingness and ability of your supervisors to persuade the DG. The third option relies on the Branch, which has to manage an increasingly limited budget.

Why do the NRCan biologists, although highly skilled, have no opportunities for career advancement? Could this be regional/departmental discrimination? To find out, I plan to pursue my research this summer by checking the duties performed by BI 3s in the various departments. Do they all have a national mandate in their work? Do they supervise employees? Do they all manage research budgets?

Once I have completed my preliminary research, I will prepare a draft report on the status of biologists and seek possible solutions to promote their career advancement. The report will initially be presented at our next union meeting, which is scheduled for September 13. After having listened to your comments at the meeting, and with your approval, I will present the report at the Quebec Stewards meeting on September 16, and then at the meeting of the SP Group Presidents and Vice-Presidents on September 23 in Québec.

The ultimate goal of the report will be to adequately prepare us for the negotiations in the fall of 2018. In the meantime, we will present the report to the SP Group Advisory Committee, some members of which are in direct contact with the Deputy Minister. Depending on the outcome of that negotiation, we will try to negotiate two pay increments for BI-2s, to compensate for our limited promotion opportunities over the past 20 years. As for the PCs, we will try to get the pay increment that was not obtained in the last set of negotiations.

I hope that all of this work will not be in vain and that some of us will be able to benefit from it.

Enjoy the summer!

Georges Pelletier
Steward and President of SP Sub-Group
Québec, Quebec