Unmuzzled government scientists are ready to talk
Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), the union that represents most government scientists, says that some departments, including DFO [Department of Fisheries and Oceans] [...] and Environment Canada, were proactive about this [the unmuzzling of government scientists and removal of previous gag orders] and explicitly told their employees and managers of the new approach soon after the announcement.
But that didn't happen everywhere. "Things were slow to get flowing," she says. "Yes, the government changed its communications policy, but nobody seemed to know about it." As of this fall, Daviau says more and more of their members were being clearly informed of their right to speak even if they were not designated spokespeople.
Last month, PIPSC triumphantly announced that it had negotiated with the government to include in its collective agreements a clause that protects this openness. "That was already the government's policy, but now it's enshrined in our collective agreement so no future government can take this away from us without a big fight," Daviau says.