CFIA bargaining: We’re getting ready to make our case at the Public Interest Commission

PSAC’s bargaining team is busy preparing its submission to the Public Interest Commission (PIC) on behalf of Canadian Food Inspection (CFIA) workers. At the upcoming PIC hearing on March 30-31, we’ll work hard to gain the support of the PIC panel for improvements to our working conditions.  

It’s now been more than a year since we began negotiating a new contract with CFIA management and, as we’ve reported before, they’ve rejected our reasonable proposals and presented a slew of concessions.  

But we won’t accept anything that weakens our contracts and we’ll keep pushing forward with our proposals. Here are some of the things we want to see addressed. 

  • Fair wages. We want wage increases that, at minimum, keep up with the increasing cost of living. Anything less would mean a pay cut. We need to ensure that the CFIA remains an attractive place to work in so that Canadians can have long term confidence in one of the best food inspection systems in the world.  

  • Better work-life balance. We want to improve work-life balance by securing better leave provisions, including an Employment Insurance top-up for the full 18-month parental leave option, as well as more leave for family-related responsibilities.

  • An inclusive collective agreement. Whether it be measures to promote mental health or better protect workers against sexual harassment, we’re committed to getting a more inclusive collective agreement that makes the workplace safer and healthier for everyone. 

  • Compensation for all work performed. CFIA inspectors at slaughterhouses are expected to undertake prep work before their shifts and perform clean-up at the end of the day without pay. This can amount to a half hour of unpaid work per day, every day. We want this time to become paid time.  


  • A clear contract. With all proposals, we want to make sure wording is clear and that there is as little room as possible for different interpretations by the union and management. 

As we continue preparing for the PIC hearing in late March, we need to keep ramping up workplace actions to show management that we’re serious about improving our working conditions and making CFIA the best food inspection organization in the world.  

What is a Public Interest Commission? 

Under the law that governs contract negotiations in the federal public service, once impasse is reached at the bargaining table, a PIC is established to help the parties reach an agreement. The PIC is a panel of three people – a chairperson appointed by the Labour Board and nominees appointed by the union and management.  

The union and the employer submit briefs and explain their positions on the outstanding issues at a hearing with the PIC. The PIC chairperson also has the option of convening additional talks. The PIC then issues a report with recommendations for settlement. The recommendations are not binding. Once the PIC releases its report, the union’s bargaining team will meet to discuss the recommendations.  

Traditionally, following this, PSAC and government representatives have returned to the table to resume negotiations. We expect the CFIA PIC report to be issued in spring 2020. 

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 



January 23, 2020