Media Release: It’s time to restore scientific integrity in the BC Public Service

Publish date: Wednesday, October 03, 2018

It’s time to restore scientific integrity in the BC Public Service

October 3, 2018

Victoria, BC: Today, the union representing 1200 scientists and engineers working for the BC public service started negotiating a new collective agreement. 

“After a decade and a half of cutting professionals and decimating science-based decision making in the provincial government, we’re taking the issue of scientific integrity to the bargaining table,” said Scott McCannell, Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of the Professional Employees Association (PEA). “We want to put language in the contract that recognizes the value of science in public policy decision making.”

Since 2001, the number of science officers working for the BC public service was reduced by 25 per cent. The union is seeking an increase in these numbers to restore capacity. 

In 2017, Evidence for Democracy (E4D) released a report, Oversight at Risk, highlighting the state of science in the BC public service. The report found that the main challenge for provincial scientific integrity in BC is cutbacks to capacity within the public service, which impedes the government’s ability to fulfill their responsibility for regulatory oversight. The recommendations from the report included increasing public service research capacity.

“The federal government enshrined science integrity in collective agreements with federal government scientists. It’s time for the provincial governments to make the same commitment,” said Kathleen Walsh, E4D Director of Policy.

In June, the BC government released the Professional Reliance Review. The professional reliance model was adopted by the former BC government in the context of an extensive plan to reduce “red tape” by eliminating environmental and health protection laws. Among other things, this review emphasized the need to identify opportunities to improve ministry staffing levels and resources to enhance government oversight. 

“The government is being presented with a golden opportunity to make a strong commitment towards addressing the broken professional reliance system,” said Bob Peart, Chair of the Professional Reliance Working Group of Concerned Citizens. “A well-staffed professional public service means the government can once again reclaim a leadership role in resource and environmental stewardship.”

“We’re looking forward to working with this government to restore scientific capacity in the public service,” said McCannell. “This will have a direct impact on our members and their ability to provide sustainable, quality public services to the people of BC.” 

The PEA is a labour union that represents over 1200 scientists and engineers working for the BC public service including engineers, foresters, geoscientists, agrologists and more.

Media Contacts

Brett Harper, Senior Communications Officer, Professional Employees Association
Phone 778-587-7397

Kathleen Walsh, Director of Policy, Evidence for Democracy
Phone 613-909-8870

Bob Peart, Chair, Professional Reliance Working Group
Phone 250-655-0295

In this section

The PEA was formed in 1974, by a group of professionals working in the public sector. The story goes that the founders of the union mortgaged their houses to fund negotiations of the union’s first collective agreement. 

Now, the PEA is BC’s union for professionals. We represent a wide range of professionals including lawyers, foresters, engineers, agrologists, teachers, veterinarians, fundraisers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, psychologists program managers, librarians and more.

Our union is led by the PEA Executive. They represent members from across the chapters of the PEA and set the overall vision and direction for our union.

Resources for our members

Navigating a union can sometime be a challenging process. Under this section of the website you will find resources to help you navigate the PEA. In the members section you'll find expense claim reimbursements, information on the PEA's scholarship and bursary program and our grants and donations program.

Collective bargaining and job action resources explain the process of collective bargaining and what to do in the unlikely event of job action. 

Local reps can also find resources to help them complete their job more effectively. This includes ways to welcome new members, how to take notes in investigation disciplinary meetings and more.

The heart of our union

The PEA is made up of ten chapters, or groups of members who either work for the same employer or are in the same field of work. Each chapter has an elected executive tasked with running the affairs of the chapter. Each chapter is entitled to representation at the PEA Executive, the governing body of the union. 

Our members work for a range of employers: the Province of BC, the University of Victoria, St. Margaret's School, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, the Oil and Gas Commission, the Law Society of BC, Legal Services Society, the Okangan Regional Library and health authorities across BC.

Professionals need unions now more then ever

Since the 1970’s, when the PEA was formed, our mission has been to ensure our members can work in safe, productive environments and receive fair and reasonable wages and benefits for the valuable work they do. We help individuals and groups of professional workers to understand the challenges they face in their workplaces and some of the solutions available to them. 

We work with potential members to become certified as a union and achieve the wages, benefits and respect they deserve. 

The Professional | Volume 43 Issue 4

The Professional is the PEA's award-winning, quarterly magazine for members.

The December 2017 issue includes a profile of UVic member Sheryl Karras, a review of the BCFED young workers' camp, a review of the year and an article on Change Day 2017.

Read the December 2017 issue

 

 

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