Report to WGC: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

Prepared by: Erland MacIsaac, President of the PIPSC National Consultation Team for Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Some of the issues raised by the National Consultation Team (NCT) at the Fisheries & Oceans Canada National, Sectoral and Regional Union-Management Consultation Committee Tables up to September 2013.

Performance Management – The NCT has asked to be briefed on the department’s plans for implementing Performance Management and requested the opportunity to review any DFO training tools and guidelines being prepared for employees for the new performance management process.

Travel - The travel approval process has become overwhelmingly complicated and burdensome at the working level with multiple approvals required for the same travel with significant lead times required. The NCT has asked to open consultations with management to find ways to streamline and ease the administrative burden on employees.

Telepresence - The Department has mandated reductions in travel throughout the department and promoted the use of teleconference, videoconference and web-based conference tools to replace face-to-face meetings. However, outside of National and Regional Headquarters, many staff and worksites don't have the modern equipment to utilize these alternative methods of communication. The NCT has asked for the department’s plans to expand and improve our telepresence capabilities and provide training to meet this travel reduction objective.

Biologist Competency Frameworks – Competency frameworks are a guide for BIs and supervisors to identify required training and skills for career development and to help managers in developing Statements of Qualifications for staffing BI positions. The NCT reviewed several drafts of the BI competency framework for science and resource management biologists, and the framework is now complete and available on the DFO intranet.

Fisheries Protection Program – DFO was ordered to shut down the Habitat Management Program and replace it with the Fisheries Protection Program, a regionally centralized program with 40% fewer staff for reviewing major and minor projects and issuing Fisheries Act authorizations where necessary. The NCT actively consulted on all aspects of the new program to ease the transition for our members and monitored the Workforce Adjustment activities associated with the staff reductions.

Cohen Commission Recommendations – The Royal Commission released 75 recommendations last spring for DFO and the federal government to improve their management of salmon fisheries on the Pacific Coast and many of the recommendations affect PIPSC members and how they conduct their business. Consultations have just begun on how implementation will affect our members.

Strategic Review, Strategic Operating Review, Deficit Reduction Action Plan and Budget 2013 – Budget, travel and WFA staff cuts have reduced staff and resources but not workloads. An additional $33M cut to National Headquarters staff, professional services and travel across the department will be implemented in 2013/14.

National Model Work Descriptions – The NCT reviewed and passed along to PIPSC Classification Section the NMWDs developed by DFO for Research Scientists, Research Managers and Small Craft Harbour Engineers. RES and REM NMWDs are for administrative purposes and have no effect on their incumbent-based classification and promotion system.

Science Libraries – The closure of regional science libraries and consolidation of library holdings into 3 libraries that stems from implementation of a budget initiative caused the NCT to raise concerns about the loss of grey literature and data holdings archived by regional libraries, lack of access to French materials, and the loss of local library research staff for science programs.

Consultation Working Group – The joint union-management consultation working group is tasked by the NUMCC with developing best practices for DFO consultation activities, working on the action plans developed from the Labour Relations Symposia, and planning for a the next symposium to be held in January/February 2014.

Workforce Adjustment – Departmental WFA activities and status are regularly tracked and reported on at the National, Sectoral and Regional UMCCs as well as the WFA Committees in each Region. The closing of the Experimental Lakes Area and elimination of the Biological Contaminants programs are major WFA initiatives that the NCT has been monitoring.

Science Publications, Communications and Collaborations – The 2007 media spokesperson policy has inhibited science staff from communicating their science. Some policy and procedure changes, such as advanced identification and qualification of spokespersons when a major announcement of the results of a major study is required could ease the concern that these scientists are being “muzzled”. A number of problems have been identified that are inhibiting publication and collaboration with external researchers and many of these will be addressed in a new Science Strategy.

Computer Science Transfers and Reclassifications – A budget initiative for consolidation of services has forced the review of job duties for CS members working in Sectors other than the Information Management and Technology Services Sector. Some CS’s that were doing network/application work were transferred to IMTS and those remaining in the Sectors are being reclassified to non-CS job descriptions in line with their actual job duties.

Publish Date: 10-OCT-2013 03:11 PM