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The Canadian Coast Guard Fleet’s competitive advantage lies in its professional and dedicated workforce. The women and men of the CCG are proud stewards of Canada’s maritime tradition and their work supports all federal government maritime priorities. Both on land and at sea, CCG professionals work tirelessly in all conditions to provide a strong federal presence, deliver quality services to clients and protect our citizens, our waters, and the natural resources of our marine environment. Ensuring that they can do so as safely as possible is not only our responsibility, but our duty.

Coast Guard Personnel Prepare to Deploy a Buoy
Coast Guard Personnel Prepare to Deploy a Buoy
Photo: Environment Canada

Lisa Laurie and Karen Macfie, General Technicians - NL
Lisa Laurie and Karen Macfie, General Technicians - NL


Working for the CCG means working for an exciting organization committed to serving Canadians safely. Few careers present such a variety of challenging opportunities, both on land and at sea, in almost every region of the country. Seagoing personnel – the Ships’ Officers (SO’s) and Ships’ Crew (SC’s) – who operate our fleet of vessels and hovercraft comprise over half (54%) of the CCG workforce of 4,554 employees. While our fleet represents the most significant visible presence of the Canadian Coast Guard to the general public, there are a number of vital functions carried out by our shore-based personnel in areas such as: safety and security, fleet management (human resources and financial planning, policy development, operational support to the fleet, and technical support and maintenance of our assets); and administrative services.

A Day of Safety, Every Day
Fire Drill on Board the CCGS Amundsen

On February 13, 2010, the crew of the CCGS Amundsen conducted a fire exercise to test the effectiveness of their safety procedures in the case of an emergency. While sailing in the Cap Rouge area, approaching the Quebec Bridge, CCGS Amundsen sounded the general alarm at 15:33pm, and announced the presence of a fire in the ship’s wheelhouse to the ship’s crew. A series of procedures took place to secure the ship, seal the fire area, locate missing ship’s crew and provide medical assistance to anyone injured. Thirty minutes later, the fire was controlled. The crew then proceeded with an abandon ship drill using the vessel’s lifeboats and life rafts.

Such drills and exercises are conducted on the Fleet’s vessels on a regular basis to enable crews to react quickly and work as a team while putting emergency plans in action during high-stress events.

In order to comply with Transport Canada’s Fire and Boat Drills Regulations and the principles of the ISM Code, drills and exercises must be performed at least on a monthly basis, be recorded in the ship's Log Book and in the Commanding Officer’s change-over notes and include the following elements:

  1. Crew boarding and manoeuvring of boats away from the ship shall be carried out, at a minimum, semi-annually;

  2. Radio communication systems are to be tested; and

  3. Donning of immersion suits shall be carried out, at a minimum, semi-annually.

A debriefing is also required as soon as possible after each exercise, and should include as many of the participants as possible.

Thanks to these simulation exercises and drills, the Fleet is continuously updating and improving emergency procedures to ensure maximum safety for its seagoing personnel.

Captain Smith on His Time Off with his Community Volunteer Fire Team
Captain Smith on His Time Off with his Community Volunteer Fire Team

The Canadian Coast Guard values its employees and places a great deal of importance on maintaining effective working relationships with the bargaining agents who represent them. Our diverse workforce is represented by seven bargaining agents. Two of these, the Canadian Merchant Services Guild (CMSG) and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) through the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees (UCTE), represent the Fleet’s Ships’ Officers (SO) and Ships’ Crew (SC), respectively. These unions are fully engaged with CCG on identifying and mitigating occupational health and safety concerns, particularly for seagoing personnel and technicians who service equipment in remote areas.

Due to the dynamic nature of the Fleet’s operations, the total number of seagoing employees on strength varies over the course of the year through seasonal, term, and casual employment. Table 1 shows the distribution of marine personnel by employment type.

Table 1: Distribution of Marine Personnel by Employment Type,
as of March 2010
On Strength (FTE2) 216 207 101 160 164 848
On Strength (Term) 4 7 7 8 19 45
Total SOs on strength 220 214 108 168 183 893
On Strength (FTE) 360 297 124 195 253 1229
On Strength (Term) 60 60 35 47 103 305
Total SCs on strength 420 357 159 242 356 1534
On Strength (FTE) - - - 14 43 57
On Strength (Term) - - - 2 0 2
Total GTs, EGs, and SCs on strength - - - 16 43 59
TOTAL 640 571 267 426 582 2486

1 NL, Newfoundland and Labrador Region; MA, Maritimes Region; C&A, Central and Arctic Region; QC, Quebec Region; PA, Pacific Region
2 FTE, full-time equivalent

1 Data from the MariTime Fleet Management System.

The Canadian Coast Guard College has provided training since 1965. This bilingual institution delivers the CCG Officer Training Program, the primary source for recruitment of SOs. It also provides career programs in MCTS, and highly specialized training in SAR, ER, marine equipment maintenance, and electronic equipment operation. While the intake of Officer-Cadets has been steadily increasing in recent years, we were pleased to note the impressive 2009-2010 intake of up to 64 Officer-Cadets, up from 48 in 2008-2009. This is a step in the right direction toward increasing the sustainability of our workforce.

The Canadian Coast Guard College: A Unique Experience

For more than 40 years, the College has offered an education unlike any other and has built a solid reputation for top-notch maritime training. Over 1,000 officer cadets have graduated from the institution, taking their acquired skills across Canada and around the globe.

What’s Does the College Offer?

Graduates of the four-year CCG Officer Training Program receive commercial certification in either marine engineering or marine navigation, a Bachelor of Technology in Nautical Sciences degree from Cape Breton University, and a diploma from the CCG College.

The College also offers other programs:

  • A nine-month basic training program in marine traffic regulating procedures and radiocommunications;
  • Marine maintenance and equipment courses to prepare electronic technologists to maintain and repair all marine equipment used on ships and technical equipment used on shore to assist navigation;
  • ER courses for government departments and private sector individuals involved in oil spill response; and
  • Specialized SAR programs exclusively for CCG and the DND personnel assigned to Joint Rescue Coordination Centres, Maritime Rescue Sub-Centres or aboard CCG ships.

More than an Education

While students master navigational systems and ships’ engines and control systems, they also learn some important values, such as the importance of ensuring their safety and that of their co-workers in the performance of their duties. The College is a residential facility that instils a sense of family and teamwork that Officer-Cadets appreciate once they take up their first vessel assignment. In exchange for their tuition-free education, room and board, and monthly allowances, graduates commit to working on board Canadian Coast Guard vessels as navigation or marine engineering officers for four years. After this period, many opt for a lifelong career with CCG.

How to Apply

The College accepts applications for enrolment in the CCG Officer Training Program from September until January for the following academic year, which begins in September. Potential recruits should contact the College either by calling 902-567-3208 or by visiting their website at

Planning for the Future

Succession planning is a key success factor for the Canadian Coast Guard in general and the Fleet in particular. Table 2 shows how the marine personnel members on strength are distributed by age, with a majority of Ships’ Officers (SOs) and Ships’ Crews (SCs) aged 45 and older. By 2013, 30% of CCG seagoing employees (17% of SCs and 21% of SOs), will be eligible for retirement and will need to be replaced. The Fleet will also need to hire nearly 100 additional seagoing and shore-based employees to serve aboard its new vessels.

Table 2: Distribution of Marine Personnel by Age Category,
as of March 2010
Average age (FTEs2) 45 48 44 45 45 45
Less than 45 85 50 47 72 73 327
Aged 45 to 54 110 112 47 76 71 416
Aged 55 to 59 16 33 11 17 24 101
Aged 60 or greater 9 19 3 3 15 49
Total SOs on-strength 220 214 108 168 183 893
Average age (FTEs) 47 51 46 48 42 47
Less than 45 159 63 68 74 181 545
Aged 45 to 54 170 200 67 109 117 663
Aged 55 to 59 59 66 21 45 40 231
Aged 60 or greater 32 28 3 14 18 95
Total SCs on-strength 420 357 159 242 356 1534
Average age (FTEs) - - - 47 38 42
Less than 45 - - - 3 30 33
Aged 45 to 54 - - - 11 12 23
Aged 55 to 59 - - - 2 1 3
Aged 60 or greater - - - - - -
Total GTs, EGs, and SCs on-strength 0 0 0 16 43 59

1 NL, Newfoundland and Labrador Region; MA, Maritimes Region; C&A, Central and Arctic Region; QC, Quebec Region; PA, Pacific Region
2 FTE, full-time equivalent

Since Canada does not have a large merchant marine from which to attract already certificated personnel, the Fleet must accurately predict its needs in terms of SOs and SCs well in advance. For the most part, certification is a multi-year process. Receiving the highest levels of certification (1st Class Engineer and Master Mariner) can take approximately 15 years. For this reason, the Fleet’s succession planning practices include the development of ships’ competency (crewing) profiles. These crewing profiles outline the required professional competency, certification, technical training, and experience required to perform duties in accordance with the Marine Personnel Manning Regulations found in the Canada Shipping Act, 2001; and includes the training requirements necessary to ensure safety in all operations. In addition to their regulatory function, crewing profiles help our SOs and SCs align their career paths with Fleet Management’s succession planning requirements.

2009–2010 Results

Classified National Model Work Descriptions for all Ships’ Officers and Ships’ Crew;

Established a standard organization for the Regional Fleet Management Organization (RFMO); and

Signed an Essential Services Agreement for Ships’ Crew with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and Treasury Board recognizing that the CCG Fleet and all its associated Ships’ Crew positions are full-time essential (Code 1) while on duty.

Increasing Diversity

The Canadian Coast Guard is committed to building a respectful and welcoming workplace that employs people as diverse as the population it serves. Implementing employment equity creates a working environment that attracts, hires, and keeps the best talent available.

In 2009, the Canadian Coast Guard created and implemented the Employment Equity Management Action Plan (EE MAP) Report Card. Results demonstrate that we are reducing barriers to employment faced by employment equity designated group members. By recruiting and showcasing the work of employment equity designated group members in promotional materials, we create opportunities to increase overall representation. CCG has increased overall national representation by an average of 5% each of the past five years. With the commitment of our Commissioner, and the support of our employees, CCG will continue to improve representation of all groups, with particular focus on persons with disabilities and visible minorities. Additionally, the Operational Women’s Network (OWN) provides a voice for the women working in the Fleet to present their concerns directly to management executives.

Surya Misra - Chief Cook on the CCGS W.E. Ricker
Surya Misra - Chief Cook on the CCGS W.E. Ricker

2009–2010 Results

Ensured full engagement of the Operational Women’s Network at Fleet Executive Board level;

Established a bi-annual report card system to track progress on the 2008-2011 Employment Equity Management Action Plan; and

Enhanced recruitment of designated group members.


The safety of any workplace depends on ensuring that employees know what is expected of them, have access to the necessary equipment, and receive adequate training to fulfill their responsibilities safely and efficiently. This is particularly true for the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet, whose vast operational network is expected to be at the ready around the clock, in often risky and dangerous conditions.

Training and development is vital to fulfilling the Fleet’s evolving mandate and is in keeping with our culture of safety and service. The required certification levels for Canadian Coast Guard seagoing personnel often exceed the levels required by Transport Canada. This is due to the nature of the difficult work that we perform and the often marginal conditions in which it must be undertaken.

Sébastien Cadieux - Navigation Officer on the CCGS Tracy
Sébastien Cadieux - Navigation Officer on the CCGS Tracy

Coast Guard Electronic Technician on Duty
Coast Guard Electronic Technician on Duty

The National Seagoing Personnel Professional Development Plan

In 2009-2010, the Fleet developed an improved National Seagoing Personnel Professional Development Plan. This document outlines the professional training and certification requirements of seagoing personnel both now and into the future. It also highlights the challenges involved in providing a continuous supply of qualified personnel to ensure appropriate service delivery. The Ships’ Crew Certification Program framework is part of this plan. It details how we will develop existing Ships Crew members into Ships’ Officers, to meet the needs identified through analysis of the Fleet’s certificate/age demographic profile.

The Fleet has also established the Seagoing Personnel Management Manual, which provides consistent national direction to regional Marine Superintendents in the management of human resources and training for CCG seagoing employees.

2009–2010 Results

 Improved the National Seagoing Personnel Professional Development Plan;

Modernized Canadian Coast Guard Fleet Order 530 – Qualifications Required of CCG Seagoing Personnel, to establish professional certification requirements that meet the needs of the current Fleet in today’s marine environment; and

Promulgated the first edition of the Ships’ Crewing Profiles. This document defines the minimum certification, training, and experience required for each position on all ships. It also acts as the Safe Manning document required by Transport Canada.

CCG Offers a Career for Everyone

The Canadian Coast Guard provides:

  • A variety 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 people, persons with disabilities, and visible minorities;
  • Its own bilingual training institution, the CCG College, which is instrumental in developing highly professional marine personnel to satisfy program and service requirements;
  • Excellent benefits such as pension, health and dental plans;
  • Employment stability; and
  • Job satisfaction second to none.

Forget Them Not

Since 1962, the Canadian Coast Guard has stood as a symbol of maritime service in Canada. Thanks to the hard work and professionalism of those who we call our own, we have tried our hardest to live up to our motto of “Safety First, Service Always.”

Sadly, despite our steadfast dedication to safety, 35 women and men have lost their lives in the performance of their duties over the years and must not be forgotten. These losses have been hard to accept, but they serve as a reminder of the very real hazards of operating in a dynamic workplace – whether on the ground, in the air, or on the sea.

Memorial Monument
Memorial Monument

Training and Learning on a Foundation of Safety

In 2008-2009, the Canadian Coast Guard developed a Learning and Development Framework to improve national consistency in the planning, management, and delivery of training. Consultations were held with managers, employees, and bargaining agents on the new Framework. In 2009-2010, the Framework was distributed throughout the Canadian Coast Guard, with clear and transparent learning and development budgets to be established. Investments in people (e.g. employee development, career progression, and skills development) will be resourced, to the extent possible, within available budgets. The Canadian Coast Guard’s forthcoming review of training and development expenditures over the past five years will also provide a better understanding of component costs (tuition, fees, disbursements, travel and materials), as well as the time and funds spent on developmental, management, and language training.

In 2009-2010, CCG also put in place proactive measures to improve its official languages capacity with a special focus on service delivery to the public, language of work, and learning and development. It also continued the second phase of the national Leadership Development Pilot Program. This program, launched as a two-year pilot in all five regions in 2007, has given participating employees an opportunity to develop their management skills and gain a broader understanding of the CCG.

2009–2010 Results

Promulgate the final version of the Continuous Learning and Development Framework;

Continued second phase of the national Leadership Development Pilot Program;

Enhanced CCG College official language training capacity;

Established clear and transparent learning and development budgets; and

Developed an action plan related to the observations of the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (OCOL) following the review of second language capacity in the Maritimes Region.

Improving National Consistency in Human Resources Management

The Canadian Coast Guard has made significant progress on two key initiatives to improve national consistency of human resources management – the development of a Standard Organization model for our regions and an enhanced Performance Review System. The Standard Organization is essential to ensuring that the Canadian Coast Guard conducts its business consistently in each region both in terms of service delivery and distribution of available resources. It also aims to ensure that employees in various regions doing the same work are classified and compensated equally. The Standard Organization was launched in 2009-2010 and transition will take place over the next three years.

Our revised Performance Review System (PRS), designed to improve employee performance, was officially launched in April 2008. It offers an achievable, sustainable, and flexible process that allows all employees to receive more meaningful performance reviews. For the initial review cycle in 2008-2009, results showed that 92% of employees had identified work objectives. In 2009-2010, the Fleet’s seagoing personnel adapted the system and implemented a version tailored to their specific needs. CCG management will continue to encourage performance discussions and monitor the PRS.

Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) are also part of the annual Performance Review System. ILPs help employees identify training requirements, developmental opportunities and career aspirations. In 2009-2010, learning plans were completed for approximately 82% of CCG employees, with the operational realities of work at sea and the transition to a new PRS reporting structure affecting seagoing completion rates. Completion rates are expected to be considerably higher in 2010-2011.

In 2009-2010, the Canadian Coast Guard also assessed the results of the 2008 Public Service Employee Survey (PSES) and distributed the findings to employees and bargaining agents.

2009–2010 Results

Launched and began transition to the Standard Organization, which includes finalizing development of national model work descriptions for technical and seagoing positions;

Ensured 82% of CCG employees had completed learning plans;

Introduced a tailored version of the Performance Review System for seagoing personnel; and

Assessed results of the 2008 PSES and distributed findings to employees and bargaining agents.

CCGS Des Groseilliers – Medium Icebreaker, in Quebec City, QC
CCGS Des Groseilliers – Medium Icebreaker, in Quebec City, QC