CFIA bargaining: Talks to resume as workers keep food safe during pandemic

Over 4,200 PSAC members at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) are slated to resume contract negotiations August 24 to 28 as they continue putting themselves at risk to ensure the safety of Canada’s food supply. 

From the early days of the pandemic, meat processing plants became the source of major COVID-19 outbreaks, including the Cargill plant near High River, Alberta, that had the largest number of cases of any workplace in North America. Despite this, PSAC members at CFIA kept showing up to work to keep the food on our tables safe.

Robert MacDonald is a processing inspector supervisor in Southern Ontario, a bargaining team member and a union representative on his workplace Occupational Health and Safety policy committee, where he has been advocating on members’ behalf through the pandemic. Having witnessed firsthand his fellow inspectors work overtime and adapt to new routines — for example, using additional personal protective equipment (PPE) and following strict sanitization protocols— he says that he is “very proud of the work they are doing in service of Canadians.” 

This sentiment is echoed by Audrey St-Germain, a slaughterhouse inspector in Quebec, who also sits on the union bargaining team. However, she is surprised that the Agency continues to refuse to pay inspectors like her for the time required for donning and removing PPE and post-shift cleanup, amounting to 20 to 30 minutes. “We have to get to work earlier and leave later every day,” she explains. Instead, CFIA only considers an inspector to have started working once they are at the slaughter line, meaning a significant amount of work goes unpaid. 

St-Germain and the rest of the union bargaining team are committed to addressing this inequity as well as many other key member concerns, including: 

  • fair economic increases  

  • market adjustments to wages for positions paid less than their counterparts in the core public administration and agencies  

  • improved work life-balance, such as more leave for family-related responsibilities 

  • better job security 

This bargaining round began more than a year and half ago and is resuming following the successful conclusion of bargaining for several large Treasury Board bargaining groups as well as the Canada Revenue Agency unit in July. 

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PSAC at CFIA : Bargaining for our future!

Atlantic: Jan Pennington 
Québec: Audrey St-Germain 
National Capital Region: Marlene O’Neil 
Ontario: Robert MacDonald 
Manitoba: Andrew Neufeld 
Saskatchewan: Karen Zoller 
Alberta: Dorothy McRae 
British Columbia: Terri Lee 

Negotiator: Hassan Husseini 
Research Officer: Silja Freitag 




August 18, 2020