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Coast Guard has the confidence of Canadians3 primarily because of its professional, dedicated workforce. Our marine personnel and staff ashore are of critical importance in the delivery of our services. CCG relies on skilled and professional marine personnel to deliver high-quality services to Canadians.

Remembering Those Who Lost Their Lives in Service

On October 27, 2007, a memorial was unveiled to honour those who lost their lives while in the service of the Coast Guard. The monument stands in the courtyard of the Coast Guard College in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Despite their extensive safety and professional training, whether conducting routine deck operations at sea, performing maintenance work on a radio tower, or responding to a search and rescue incident, employees can be injured or even lose their lives while performing their duties.While every precaution is taken, the risks endure.

The monument pays tribute to the commitment of those 34 men and women who paid the ultimate price to serve and protect Canadians at sea.

Memorial at the CCG College in Sydney, N.S.
Memorial at the CCG College in Sydney, N.S.
Photo: MA Region

More than half (53%) of CCG's 4,554 employees work on vessels while the remaining 47% work in shore-based operations. In Fleet, Ships' Officers (SOs) and Ships' Crew (SCs) are the main occupational groups responsible for operational delivery with Hovercraft Officers and Crew falling into the GT and EG categories (see Table 2 for Marine Personnel Statistics). Each day, ROC staff monitor vessel locations, task vessels to programs and geographic areas, and link the CCG with clients, decision makers, and the Government of Canada. Fleet is also supported by shore-based staff responsible for planning, budgeting, policy development, safety and security, human resources and information management.

Table 2: Snapshot of the Seagoing Personnel Statistics as of April 2008
 NLMAC&AQCPANationally
SHIPS' OFFICERS (SO)
On Strength (FTE1) 181 231 107 171 197 887
On Strength (Term) 2 0 8 11 10 31
Total SO On-Strength 183 231 115 182 207 918
Average Age (FTE) 44 48 43 44 45 45
Men 175 217 97 155 158 802
Women 6 14 10 16 18 64
Aged 45 to 54 85 120 39 77 69 390
Aged 55 to 59 12 35 12 14 25 98
Aged 60 or Greater 7 13 5 3 8 36
SHIPS' CREWS (SC)
On Strength (FTE) 297 328 141 218 269 1,253
On Strength (Term) 120 79 24 62 81 366
Total SC On-Strength 417 407 165 280 350 1,619
Average Age (FTE) 48 49 45 19 45 48
Men 282 314 130 186 242 1,154
Women 15 14 11 32 27 99
Aged 45 to 54 137 187 71 118 112 625
Aged 55 to 59 50 58 13 43 37 201
Aged 60 or Greater 25 20 4 11 14 74
TOTAL 600 638 280 462 557 2,537

1 Full-time equivalent
Note: Ship Officers in the above table include Hovercraft Officers.

There are a number of circumstances that influence both current operational needs and longer term human resource strategic planning. These include:

  • The high percentage of Fleet's most experienced personnel who are eligible to retire or who are nearing retirement eligibility at a time when enrolment in provincial marine schools is declining;
  • The acquisition of five new vessels plus 12 replacement vessels over the coming years, which will require approximately 100 additional seagoing personnel (60 Ships' Crews (SC) and 40 Ships' Officers (SO)) as well as additional shore-based employees (see Section 3 for details); and
  • A highly competitive Canadian marine industry that may lure trained Fleet personnel to the commercial shipping and cruise ship sectors (although retention of SOs and SCs within CCG remains very high).

In this context, for 2007-08, Fleet is focused on the following areas: recruitment; and training and development.

Union Management Issues…

Coast Guard also places a great deal of importance on maintaining effective communications and working relationships with the bargaining agents representing its employees. Efforts are ongoing to negotiate a common approach to aspects of employment for all marine personnel.

Recruitment

For the average Canadian, there are many career options other than a career at sea. Few careers, however, present such a variety of challenging opportunities, in every region of the country, working for an organization that is committed to staff development and offers very competitive salaries and a well-rounded employment package.

With high levels of attrition anticipated in the future due to retirements, human resources management is a significant short and medium-term challenge. A CCG Strategic Human Resources Plan was published in July 2008 www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca . This plan provides high-level direction and a national analysis of the trends that will influence our recruitment and give managers a clearer picture of human resources requirements into the future. CCG estimates that it will need an additional 318 Ships' Crew members and 233 Ships' Officers from now until 2012.

Coast Guard is making progress with regard to the representation of women seagoing personnel. As of April 2008, 8.2% of Ships' Officers were women, exceeding the labour market availability of 6.3%. Representation in the Ships' Crew occupational group increased by 39% from 2005 to 2008 reaching a total of 9.6% while the labour market availability is set at 18.4%.

Deck Officer Andrea Morrissey
Deck Officer Andrea Morrissey
Photo: MA Region

CCG offers a career for everyone…
  • A diversity of ship and shore-based positions;
  • An opportunity to work in all regions of Canada;
  • A variety of work schedules - from 28 days of work followed by 28 days of leave to a more familiar 9 to 5 schedule;
  • An increasingly diverse workforce that continually strives to attract more women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and visible minorities;
  • Its own bilingual training institution, the Canadian Coast Guard College (CCGC), which is instrumental in developing highly professional seagoing personnel to satisfy program and service requirements;
  • Excellent benefits such as pension, health and dental plans;
  • Employment stability; and
  • Job satisfaction second to none

CCG is always looking for innovative and creative ways to raise the profile of maritime careers among potential recruits. During 2007-2008, it supported The Guard, a nationally televised one-hour drama that followed the fictional lives of a search and rescue team.

Training and Development

Fleet is improving and bringing in new ways to foster learning and development and to ensure knowledge and skills are interchanged between marine and shore-based operations, and between regional management and headquarters.

During 2007-2008, Fleet made significant progress in enhancing its competency profiles for seagoing personnel. The competency profiles relate the staffing needs of each vessel to the qualifications required (training, experience and certification) for each position of an operational unit. Individual profiles are then developed, identifying the training required for each employee in support of enhanced skills development.

Electronic maintenance technologist Mylène DiPenta replacing a satellite antenna at the top of the main mast on CCGS Hudson, Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel.
Electronic maintenance technologist Mylène DiPenta replacing a satellite antenna at the top of the main mast on CCGS Hudson, Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel

Photo: MA Region

On the Radar…

A network representing women serving aboard our ships is being launched to more fully understand the current challenges women face in their seagoing careers. The network will offer opportunities for communication, dialogue, outreach, and will strive to increase visibility and recruitment of women in the CCG.

The National Seagoing Personnel Training Plan ensures qualified personnel who meet all operational and regulatory requirements are in place, and provides a clearer picture of longer-term training requirements. This plan will form the basis for a more sophisticated succession plan and strategy in subsequent years.

New Opportunities…
  • A national Leadership Development Pilot Program provides opportunities for employees who have potential to assume Superintendent level positions over the next decade, and to develop leadership competencies. The pilot is being offered in all five regions.
  • The Seagoing Personnel Career Development Initiative encourages Ships' Officers in the lower and middle ranks to take shore positions on a rotational basis. These assignments will:
    • require seagoing expertise;
    • provide pertinent management experience;
    • be a pre-requisite for advancement to senior marine positions.
Training Gets Industry Attention

CCG's Rigid Hull Inflatable Operator Training, delivered on Vancouver Island, gets considerable media attention and has a worldclass reputation with the maritime industry.

The training facility at Bamfield provides CCG employees with hands-on experience in adverse weather conditions - basic boat handling, SAR operations, pacing, navigation, maintenance and heavy weather operations - so the students are ready for the variety of situations they will encounter during their careers.

CCG Rigid Hull Inflatable
CCG Rigid Hull Inflatable
Photo: Pacific Region

From Seaman/Waiter to Superintendent, Operations, Regional Operations Centre

Samuel Babisky
Samuel Babisky, Superintendent, Operations, Regional Operations Centre, Central & Arctic Region

Sam Babisky joined the Royal Canadian Navy at 17. He returned to his Manitoba home after four years of service, working in a variety of jobs. When he discovered that the CCGS Namao operated on Lake Winnipeg, he jumped at the opportunity to be back on a ship and began his CCG career as the ship's seaman/waiter.

His curiosity, affability and desire to learn have, over more than 28 years, resulted in a varied, challenging and very successful career. Early on, Mr. Babisky learned two important lessons from his co-workers, those who were most successful were determined and they took responsibility for managing their careers.

With this insight and the advice of one early captain - read a booklet or publication every day and you can make something of yourself in Coast Guard - he obtained a Master Minor Waters Certificate and moved to the Great Lakes. He served from ship to ship in a variety of capacities - wheelsman, boatswain, coxswain, acting assignments as third and second officer - with a promise to himself that he would never turn down an assignment opportunity.When he eventually returned to the CCGS Namao as Chief Officer, it was a personal triumph and one he shared with those he had waited on 10 years earlier.

He continued his education, spending two winters at Georgian College earning a Watchkeeping Certificate, studying public sector management through the distance learning offerings of the University of Manitoba, and taking every Coast Guard course available. As his knowledge grew, he became more interested in ship management.

In 1996, he accepted an Aids to Navigation Review Officer position in the Central and Arctic regional office, with his eye on getting into the Operations Centre. While it was the water that initially attracted Mr. Babisky to the Coast Guard, now he says that he would like to finish his career in the Operations Centre, where he is still learning, applying knowledge and experiencing new challenges.

Mr. Babisky says he has had many rewarding experiences during his career, but his fondest memories are of the pride he feels at being associated with people who are dedicated and committed to the task at hand above all else.


3 In a 2006 DFO Baseline Public Opinion Survey of Canadians, confidence in CCG services was rated as 7.4 on a scale of 10.