Summary of National Union-Management Consultation Committee (NUMCC) meetings

Your CFIA PIPSC National Consultation Team (NCT) represented you at CFIA’s semi-annual NUMCC meetings in November 2019. There are three components to these meetings: Operations Branch, Human Resources (HR) Branch, and the overarching National UMCC. Below follows some highlights of these meetings. The team would like to thank Hussien Bashah for taking on the role of Interim President while Dr. Johannson was on maternity leave; his hard work and dedication to members is very much appreciated.

Operations Branch

We continue to engage senior management regarding some animal welfare issues at turkey slaughter plants. We were unable to obtain a firm commitment from management that this will be resolved quickly. We emphasized that our slaughter VM members need to be supported. We also continue to engage senior management regarding excessive line speeds in some poultry slaughter establishments. Management is still unable to definitively confirm that Canadian plants with line speeds greater than those in the US are fully compliant with US export requirements. We highly recommended that the entire Modernized Poultry Inspection Program be reassessed as the on line statistical testing was designed for much slower line speeds.

We had a lengthy discussion regarding all aspects of acting opportunities for PIPSC members in higher level regional, area, and Operational Guidance and Expertise (OGE) positions. Opportunities are extremely rare, and when they are offered members are not always made available by their manager. We emphasized to management that the front line needs to have more staff to supply actors, and managers of these higher level positions need to put actors in place, rather than having colleagues covering each other’s desks for short term leave. Members need to be prepared to accept actors to cover for them, and to assist them such that they are able to learn and succeed. This process is necessary for career development, employee engagement, and succession planning.

We raised some concerns regarding OGE responses on SharePoint, including that some responses are incorrect. Members are encouraged to highlight errors and issues they encounter to their manager, who can then report these issues up. Management encourages employees to continue to submit queries through this system, even if a similar response already exists. Regarding queries that have been open for an extended time, management is working on a method to provide interim guidance.

Management acknowledged recruitment and retention of front line veterinarians continues to be a problem, with some regions having critical issues. We emphasized the impact this has on our members. Management is in the process of developing some strategies to try to solve this problem; we look forward to assisting in finding solutions.

Communications regarding the installation of telematics in fleet vehicles has been problematic. During our discussion, it was emphasized that some of our members’ fears are unwarranted however we did recommend that communication be improved.

HR Branch

An ongoing issue for the CFIA-IN group is staffing AS into CS positions. We noted that we have seen some improvements in this area and await further discussions, if necessary.

Provision of organizational charts to the bargaining agents and our members has historically been very problematic. CFIA has initiated the use of a new software tool that will be available as a link on the internal website for all employees to use at any time; we very much look forward to this.

As CFIA implemented a new staffing program in April 2019, we discussed many aspects of staffing. The internal website now has a lot of information, including transparency in appointments. Members are encouraged to read the information, especially those members involved in a staffing process as there are tight deadlines for requesting staffing feedback and a formal decision review. Members who have concerns with staffing are encouraged to follow the appropriate complaints procedure, and contact a steward if necessary.

HR gave an excellent presentation regarding how management should prepare for reallocation of resources. Depending on the situation, there are different mechanisms and processes available. HR has given this presentation to several management tables to emphasize to managers that they need to involve HR very early in the process, to ensure that the optimal mechanism is used and that employee rights are respected. Members who have concerns about reallocation of work or employment transition are encouraged to contact a steward.


The Modernized Slaughter Inspection Program for hogs remains a standing item for discussion. CFIA plans to explore the readiness of the remaining hog slaughter establishments, while maintaining a dialogue with the bargaining agents.

Phoenix is also a standing item at this meeting. The POD system was implemented for CFIA, whereby pay actions are dealt with together for an employee instead of single transactions; this seems to be going well. However, retro payments for the implementation of the collective agreements remains solely under the control of PSPC, and it will likely be months before members receive all of their retro pay. We continue to emphasize that Phoenix has a huge impact on all of our members in many aspects of their lives. As always, members with severe financial impacts are encouraged to contact a steward.

We were given an update regarding the Agency Workplace Optimization Initiative. Some locations have been pushed back and others have been put on hold. The locations that are moving forward have some delays due to the design phase being extended to ensure that the worksite will be meet employees’ needs. Members are encouraged to remain engaged in the process, including completing post implementation surveys. Members with concerns in these locations should contact their steward on the implementation committee. We were also informed about a pilot project being undertaken by PSPC called the GCcoworking initiative. Office space will be created in some locations that employees from different departments will be able to access for short term temporary reasons. CFIA will be brought on board in spring 2020, and we look forward to seeing if this creates more workspace opportunities for members.

We presented management with our concerns regarding critical errors that continue to be made by Canada Border Services Agency at ports of entry that have a high risk of allowing the incursion of foreign pests or disease. Management emphasized that front line employees who work with ports of entry are indeed encouraged to communicate directly with local CBSA contacts regarding border lookouts and concerns. Members who have concerns with work done by CBSA should also be notifying their Area Import Coordinator for official communication to CBSA.

Through our request for an update on the CFIA Veterinary Community, we had a discussion regarding the continued perception of the deprofessionalization of veterinary medicine in CFIA. There have been many VM05 positions lost or reclassified, so the opportunities for career progression and promotion of VMs into management are rare. The President is still looking for a permanent Chief Veterinary Officer, and she wants to greatly raise the profile of this position.

We were informed of the status of the Federal Science and Technology Infrastructure Initiative whereby the federal government aims to build a stronger and more collaborative science and technology community. Many questions remain as to how this will be implemented and we look forward to further updates.