Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why NAV CANADA was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and National Capital Region's Top Employers (2017):
- NAV CANADA supports employees who are new mothers with maternity leave top-up payments (to 93% of salary for up to 17 weeks) and offers an option to extend their leave into an unpaid leave of absence, depending on position
- As part of NAV CANADA's health benefits plan, employees receive a health spending account of up to $750 per year which can be used to top-up existing coverage or cover additional wellness-related expenses
- NAV CANADA encourages ongoing employee development through tuition subsidies for job-related courses, subsidies for professional accreditation and in-house apprenticeship programs
NAV CANADA: the right people, the right culture
Des Jesseau loves being an air traffic controller for NAV CANADA. "It's a tough job that not everyone is suited for," he says, noting that his work keeps him on his toes. "Every day is different, depending on the weather and the time of year."
Jesseau also greatly admires the men and women alongside him at the area control centre in Gander, N.L. "The people I work with are really phenomenal," he says. "They are some of the most professional people in the world."
And Jesseau, who has been an air traffic controller for 22 years, never forgets what his job is about - moving aircraft safely and efficiently. As he monitors the movement of those aircraft on some of the most advanced technology in the world and speaks to pilots on a headset, "it can look like I'm playing a video game," he says. "But these are real people and real planes. Safety is our absolute number one priority." Indeed, NAV CANADA is recognized as one of the safest civil air navigation service (ANS) providers in the world.
A not-for-profit company, NAV CANADA was created in 1996 with the purchase of the country's civil ANS from Transport Canada, making it the only fully private ANS in the world. With a head office in Ottawa, it has more than 4,800 employees, located in every province and territory.
The majority are operational staff, including about 2,200 air traffic controllers and more than 600 flight service specialists, who provide crucial information to pilots. Handling about 12 million movements annually, these employees work out of NAV CANADA's seven area control centres, 41 airport control towers and 55 flight service stations. The company also employs engineers and technologists, as well as a variety of support functions including management, IT, legal and administration, among many others.
Jesseau says that at NAV CANADA, "the compensation is good, the benefits are good, the pension is good," but what really makes the company stand out for him are the wellness programs. Jesseau is an active volunteer with these support initiatives, including the Critical Incident Stress Management program, established to provide support in the aftermath of rare and difficult events at work.
Volunteering, he says, "is something I'm very proud of. It's amazing to me that NAV CANADA will spend so much time, money and resources to train peers and provide us with the necessary tools so that in the off chance something happens, we're there and we're ready to help."
The wellness programs are just one part of NAV CANADA's commitment to its employees, which is something that President and CEO Neil Wilson sees as integral to the company's success. "We adjusted our mission statement to include the provision of a professional and fulfilling work environment for our employees," says Wilson, "because our employees are key stakeholders in everything that we do."
NAV CANADA's Senior Vice-President of Human Resources, Raymond Bohn, echoes that sentiment. Initiatives to foster an inclusive workplace, and support employee growth and engagement are at the heart of all employee programs, he says.
"At NAV CANADA, we're committed to providing value to all of our stakeholders, including our employees," Bohn says. "We strive to find the right people and to build the right culture. It's about taking care of our people and creating an environment where they can thrive."
The sky's the limit at NAV CANADA
When Danielle Desbiens says "the sky's the limit" at NAV CANADA, she's not referring to the company's raison d'etre, moving aircraft safely and efficiently through Canadian air space. She's talking about career potential: "There are lots of opportunities here."
Desbiens speaks from first-hand experience. Thirty years ago she was hired and worked as a maintenance technologist before becoming an instructor at the NAV CENTRE, where NAV CANADA provides specialized instruction for the technologists and engineers who develop, install, maintain and repair some of the most advanced air traffic management technology in the world.
In 2003, Desbiens accepted a position as a life cycle manager and in 2009, took over her current position as Program Manager, Communications Engineering. Based in Ottawa, she's in charge of a team of engineers and technologists who ensure NAV CANADA's radar and communications systems perform optimally. They deal with equipment that ranges from cutting-edge to time-tested.
"You need to have a broad knowledge of air navigation services because all our systems are interconnected," says Desbiens. "Our focus on safety is phenomenal, but there's always room for improvement. Learning is an ongoing process."
NAV CANADA, a not-for-profit company, was formed in 1996 with the purchase of the country's civil air navigation service (ANS) from Transport Canada. It is the only entirely private ANS provider in the world and has an international reputation as one of the safest.
Most of the workforce is operational staff, including about 2,000 air traffic controllers and 650 flight service specialists based throughout Canada. Other highly skilled employees, like Desbiens and her team, ensure their colleagues can provide pilots with the crucial information they need to interact with the ANS. The company also hires people in a variety of support functions, such as IT, finance, legal and human resources, often based in Ottawa.
Facilitating professional development is part of NAV CANADA's highly competitive compensation and benefits package. It also includes a comprehensive health care plan and a defined benefit pension plan.
"People tend to stay," says Raymond Bohn, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, referring to the company's low turnover rate, "and can advance their careers in a variety of ways, by moving onto new teams, working on special projects or taking on a management or training role. That is one of the reasons why it is so important that we offer a workplace culture where everyone feels valued."