The purpose/function of the Standing Fish Price Setting Panel (Panel) is to annually identify, in consultation with stakeholders, particular fish species for collective bargaining, collect and disseminate market information; establish parameters for negotiations; facilitate collective bargaining; set hearing dates, and, when necessary, to act as an arbitration panel for the parties in setting fish prices when they have been unable to agree. The Panel also makes recommendations on matters falling within its mandate to the minister responsible for fisheries and aquaculture and the minister responsible for fisheries in the Government of Canada.
The legislative authority establishing the Panel and the Panel’s structure is contained in Section 19 of the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act (Act). The Panel consists of 3 members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, one of which shall be appointed as chairperson and others as regular members. The members of the Panel shall elect one of their members to be vice-chairperson to serve in the absence of the chairperson. Where the term of office of a regular member expires, he or she continues to be a member until reappointed or replaced.
The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may also appoint as many persons, as considered appropriate, to serve as alternate members. Since its inception in 2006 the Panel has had two alternate member positions.
Three Panel members are required for a quorum.
The Panel reports directly to the Minister of Advanced Education Skills and Labour.
While not required by legislation, the Panel members (regular and alternate) have a strong background in the harvesting and processing sector with an independent chairperson who has no association with either sector.
The Panel responsibilities are supported by a Facilitator/Administrator, employed by the Department of Advanced Education Skills and Labour, who reports directly to the chairperson of the Panel.
Those who make up the Panel should collectively possess the following core competencies:
The time commitments for Panel members are demanding and can be unpredictable. There are twelve species of fish that are subject to collective bargaining on an annual basis. The primary activities of the Panel are carried out between the months of January and October, with the busiest months being March and April.
There is a potential for fourteen hearings to be held during this time frame but the actual occurrence of a hearing is dependent upon whether a collective agreement is achieved. Hearing dates are established early in the new year so members are aware in advance of potential time commitments for that purpose. Based on a review of past activity, there has been average of 10 hearings per season and an average of 42 days/season.
The Act provides parties to negotiations with the ability to request a reconsideration of a Panel decision. Each party is entitled to one reconsideration request per decision. If such a request is received, the Panel is mandated to assess the request, hold a hearing (if necessary) and issue a decision within 48 hours of acknowledgement of receipt of the request. While the number of reconsideration requests received in any given year is generally low, the unpredictability of such requests and the stringent time frame under which the Panel must execute its responsibilities places demands on members in terms of making themselves available on short notice.
Section 19.1(7) of the Act establishes a three-year appointment term for Alternate Panel members however, it does not provide for alternates members to continue to serve upon expiry of their term.