A Day in the Life

Meet some of Environment Canada's employees, who are preserving and enhancing the natural environment through day-to-day science to protect the health of all Canadians.


Philippe, Research Officer

Philippe, Research Officer

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a research officer for air quality. I am involved in scientific research projects and in the development of tools that improve the quality of air for Canadians, especially during the hot summer months.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: To put it simply, I love research. It's as though I'm still in university but without the exams! We keep learning, we enquire, we constantly evolve – we advance science, even though it may be in small, baby steps. We feel useful when our results are taken into consideration by decision-makers and integrated into laws that ultimately helps improve the quality of people’s lives.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: Growing up, I was always outdoors and had great respect for the environment. I gain a lot from nature and I owe it a lot in return. For me, working in the environment was a way of combining my work and my private life, of being proud of my work and never losing the motivation to fulfill my goals. I am aware of how fragile the environment is and how vulnerable we are to its effects. My goals have never changed since I was a young child – I wanted to work in the environment and share my ambitions.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in the south of France (Marseille), where I grew up near the ocean and the mountains. My mother is from Quebec – which explains in part why I have been living in Montréal for ten years.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work for the Meteorological Service of Canada at Place Bonaventure in downtown Montréal.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: My research projects can vary greatly from one to another. However, the enthusiasm is always the same when it comes to sharing results, exchanging expertise and helping to define environmental issues. The most fulfilling aspect is knowing that our work could affect thousands of people. For instance, I've worked on the effects of air pollution on Canadians. I've also worked on the identification of storm paths in Hudson Bay, so that engineers can orient the bearing of port dykes to counter the effects of waves and sea ice. As well, I've worked on the phenomenon of urban heat islands which, combined with heat waves, can have a dramatic impact on the more vulnerable segments of the population. I've also had the opportunity to work in Africa. I've travelled there twice to share our knowledge of climatological analysis tools so that farmers in the Sahel can adapt to a changing monsoon season in a changing climate. Each one of these projects provides a certain sense of accomplishment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I like interacting with other institutions and partners who deal with the same environmental problems. For instance, when I am working on heat waves, discussions with public health specialists are always very rewarding and help guide research and work objectives. The best analyses are conducted by combining several sources of data (climatological, socio-economic, health, etc.). In fact, I am now working on the development of a decision-making tool to help stakeholders who issue extreme heat warnings. The environment is a multidisciplinary field that opens our eyes to the world and forces us to adopt a global vision. That is fulfilling.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Careers related to the environment is one field that will never become saturated or outdated; there will always be a need for new expertise and new vision, where everyone can be invited to contribute. An environment-related career is gratifying because from cities to nature, we are working to protect ecosystems and offer a better quality of life that affects the health of all Canadians.


Brigitte, Meteorologist

Brigitte, Meteorologist

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I have been a meteorologist at the Quebec Storm Prediction Centre since 2007. My work consists of preparing public forecasts for Quebec and occasionally issuing severe weather warnings.

When I am not forecasting, I assist in measuring the performance of maritime forecasts. Verifying our forecasts is the best way to detect our weaknesses and thus improve our work.

I am also on the team of apprentice warning preparedness meteorologists. As such, I respond to media calls and work with various emergency measures organizations. In the summer, we conduct field investigations when we suspect that a tornado or microburst may occur.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have always loved science and I am an outdoor enthusiast. Meteorology is a perfect combination of these two interests.

Since I do not like routine, I was also seeking a work environment where I would have several options. For example in meteorology, you can work in the public sector, in aviation or in the media, or you can focus on research, just to name a few.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: When I was younger, I loved watching the sky. I was always outside or glued to a window during a thunderstorm, a snowstorm, a foggy day, or just to look at the shapes of clouds. I tried to understand how all these phenomena developed. I never dreamed that, one day, that would be my job!

Unlike most of my colleagues, I was late in discovering what I wanted to do in life. In school, I enjoyed science, particularly math, but I could not make a career choice. The realization came while I was leafing through a brochure on the various courses available, barely a year before beginning university.

I immediately knew this was my vocation. Even though spaces for training in operational meteorology were limited at that time, I absolutely wanted to try my luck.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born and raised in Montréal, Quebec.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: At the Storm Prediction Centre in Montréal, Quebec.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Being a meteorologist is far from routine work; each weather situation is different and each season brings its own challenges. I like seeing whether my forecast was accurate and whether the system evolved as I had anticipated.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Just being able to understand the weather phenomena around me is a treasure in itself.

Being able to work as part of a team is very rewarding. The experience acquired over the years is a precious major asset in weather forecasting. Every day, I learn a great deal from my more experienced colleagues.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I feel very privileged to have a job that I am passionate about and I wish the same for all young people. Finding what truly interests us is not always easy.

More specifically, for those who would like to become meteorologists, I would recommend that you begin learning about the science of it on your own as soon as possible to give yourself a head start.

Learning computer programming is also an advantage in this field, which is highly dependent on information technology. With this skill, you will be able to help build tools that are used directly in operational meteorology.


Marc, Development Meteorologist

Marc, Development Meteorologist

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a meteorologist-climatologist.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Because this field of science focuses on the environment (atmospheric environment).

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: To understand weather, the atmosphere and the various atmospheric phenomena; to become a researcher.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Montréal, Quebec.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: In the science section of the Meteorological Service of Canada, in Montréal.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: To develop new knowledge; to discover.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Working alongside other scientists with different specialties.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Broaden your knowledge at school. Always be open to learning new things. Believe in what you are doing.


Alicia, Manager, Aquatic Life Research Facility

Alicia, Manager, Aquatic Life Research Facility

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I manage the Aquatic Life Research Facility (ALRF), located in Burlington, Ontario. Researchers use the facility to conduct experiments using all forms of aquatic life and I ensure that water quality, chemistry, and lighting are optimum for the parameters that they need and that all critical equipment is functioning properly in order to produce the highest quality of repeatable results.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have a love for nature and the environment and wanted to do my part in contributing to making the world a better place.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to be a veterinarian or at least work with animals.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Southern Ontario (Cayuga).

Q: Where do you work now?

A: Burlington, Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: It’s something new every day. I am constantly facing new challenges and troubleshooting issues on different systems and equipment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Solving problems that others could not find an answer to and when researchers have successful experiments – it means I’ve done my part in contributing to science that will better our environment!

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/ a career in government/ specific job?

A: Talk to people in the field – get your name out there. If you aren’t already, get into a co-op program for your desired field. Gaining experience in the work place is a great way to network as well as discover if that is truly the path you want to take!


Roger, Sediment Remediation Specialist

Roger, Sediment Remediation Specialist

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: As a federal environmental scientist, I work with provincial and municipal governments, as well as industry, First Nations and the general public on projects aimed at cleaning up contaminated sediments from around the Great Lakes. Some of my duties include site assessments, environmental monitoring, contract management, project management, financial tracking and public outreach. Half of my time is spent in the office while the other half is spent in the field or at meetings.  Most of the travelling I do is within Ontario however, I have also been to many provinces and the United States.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Since grade 12 I have been interested in the environment. On my last co-op work term at the University of Waterloo, I was hired at Environment Canada to do water, air and sediment monitoring and assessments. Contaminated sediments were of great interest leading me to seek a career in this field with Environment Canada.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: Growing up, I wanted to do something in law enforcement.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Southern Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is located in Toronto, Ontario but I travel throughout the province of Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: I enjoy working aboard our research ship the CCGS LIMNOS, as it sails through the Great Lakes for several days, to collect environmental samples for water and sediment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I have had the opportunity to meet a wide range of interesting people from all walks of life who are passionate about the environment. As well, I get to clean up contaminated sediment in places like Hamilton Harbour. Cleaning up contaminants in the lakes and rivers help make it safer for everyone to drink, swim, fish and enjoy recreational activities like boating. These clean ups help preserve the Great Lakes for future generations.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Obtain a post-secondary college or university education in science or engineering. Get work and volunteer experience in the environmental field. Attend job fairs and be sure to visit the Government of Canada web site for job opportunities. Speak to people you know in the environmental field to understand the wide range of jobs available.


Jean, Migratory Birds Biologist

Jean, Migratory Birds Biologist

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. My work consists of gathering data on game birds. I conduct inventories in order to identify trends in bird populations. I also capture ducks and geese to band them, which allows us to track their movements and to calculate survival rates. Using this and other information, we meet with hunters and American biologists to discuss regulations for the upcoming migratory bird hunting season. Every decision made takes into account the conservation of these species for future generations. Among other duties, I also speak with the public to inform them of the steps to take to reduce problems caused by the presence of excessive numbers of certain species on their property.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Out of love and passion for nature and animals.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to become a biologist.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Thetford Mines, Quebec.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is located in Quebec City. However, my field work takes me throughout Quebec.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Banding birds is one of the most exciting activities, since we have the chance to handle wild birds and observe them before releasing them.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Knowing that the information being gathered helps maintain game bird populations over the long term and that that information is the basis for discussions among stakeholders for determining the regulation of the migratory bird hunt. Working in nature or speaking during meetings with people who share the same passion is very exciting.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: To become a biologist, you need a university education. Gain experience by taking part in wildlife inventory projects as a student or volunteer.


Erin, Senior Enforcement Officer

Erin, Senior Enforcement Officer

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I'm currently a Senior Enforcement Officer. I enforce pollution legislation that Environment Canada is responsible for. During the past year I have been on assignment with Enforcement Headquarters as a Senior Enforcement Support Officer and Senior Economic Advisor.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I have a degree in biology and have always been interested in the environment. I also like working with people and helping others. My job as an enforcement officer has given me the opportunity to help businesses make real changes in their operations in order to operate in a more compliant and sustainable manner.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: When I was very young, I wanted to be a writer or a teacher. As I became more curious about the world, I started thinking more about becoming a biologist. By the end of university I had focused in on ecology because of my appreciation of nature and a desire to protect it. I was lucky enough to have been able to take advantage of a student bridging program and was hired full-time following school by Environment Canada's National Lab for Environmental Testing where I analyzed water samples for contaminants.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I grew up in Brampton, Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is in Burlington, Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: The most exciting part of my job is getting to visit all sorts of different types of businesses all over the province, from pulp and paper mills in northern Ontario, to dry cleaners in downtown Toronto, to hazardous waste trucks coming over the border from the United States.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I really love returning to a business where I'd previously found non-compliance, and discovering that everything is now in order. I really feel like I've done my job.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Talk to as many people as you can who work in the field you're interested in. You will probably find that most people enjoy talking about their work, can give you a good idea of what types of jobs are actually out there, and what sort of education or experience you need. You may even find yourself considering options you hadn't thought of before. I never thought I'd be an enforcement officer, for example. Most of all, always keep an open mind and don't be afraid to try something new.


Christian, Wildlife Biologist

Christian, Wildilfe Biologist

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: As a wildlife biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service I manage the regional shorebird monitoring program. One of the larger projects I’m involved in monitors migrant shorebirds on James Bay.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I love birds, birding, and bird conservation. I'm driven to get out of bed to run surveys before dawn; I get excited.

I got here because of luck, timing and planning. I knew that I wanted to be a biologist; I just didn't know exactly where to focus. I was in my undergrad (in biology) and looking for a few weeks to fill between end-of-term and when a position I had lined up was to begin.  I applied for and was accepted as a volunteer with Long Point Bird Observatory's (LPBO) Tree Swallow project. This one-month experience was probably the turning point in my life.  From this brief time, I knew that I wanted to work with birds towards their conservation.

After graduation I took a bird surveying job for Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory in the US, then I volunteered for the fall season at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory, and the following spring season at LPBO again. Together, these volunteer experiences provided me with the training and experience necessary to run a bird observatory. I was hired at LPBO and worked there for three years before coming to Environment Canada.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: A doctor or a veterinarian. My dream of being an NHL star fizzled around my 9th birthday.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in Montreal.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My office is in Toronto, but most of my field work is conducted along the southern Great Lakes shorelines, up in the north-western part of Ontario, and along the James Bay coast.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Working in the field.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Working with biologists and research scientists from EC and other agencies such as Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Royal Ontario Museum, and Bird Studies Canada.

Seeing information I have collected, or projects I’ve worked on, affect conservation.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: I'd suggest you think a little about what it is that gets you going. What gets you out of bed?

Seek out volunteer opportunities in areas you think might interest you. You will learn pretty quickly whether you enjoy the work or not, and from there you can seek out further opportunities in the same field, or move on and try another option. Field programs are always looking for volunteers.

Formal education will help. A college degree or undergraduate degree will give you the tools to get into most organisations.  A Master’s degree will help you get further.


Josée, Wildlife Biologist

Josée, Wildlife Biologist

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am the Regional Coordinator of the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk (HSP) in Quebec Region. The program offers financial assistance for  activities and projects aimed at protecting species at risk listed in the Species at Risk Act.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: This type of work creates a link between scientific knowledge associated with species at risk and projects undertaken by groups and individuals for the recovery of these species. My work includes a human element when  I negotiate agreements and monitor projects led  by local organizations that receive funding. My duties include collaborating with other departments that have responsibility and/or expertise related to species at risk.

I appreciate having a job that includes scientific aspects, since I am a biologist, and like the many interactions with program clients and other partner departments, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I enjoyed learning about science, particularly biology. After completing my bachelor’s degree in biology, I had not exactly “had my fill” of education. Since I have always been fascinated by marine biodiversity, I pursued a master’s degree in that area.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I was born in the Centre-du-Québec Region.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work for the Canadian Wildlife Service which is part of the  Environmental Stewardship Branch in the Quebec City office.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: I find it exciting to see the excellent work being done  and the results obtained by non‑government organizations, thanks, in part to funding from Environment Canada. I clearly say “in part” because the programs require that these organizations provide a contribution from external partners that is equivalent to the financial assistance received. The many efforts of all these people in various regions unquestionably contribute to the conservation of habitats of species in peril and their recovery.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Finding passionate action oriented people in local groups, working for a common goal, is very rewarding. This is especially the case since the objectives that inspire them and their efforts are aimed at achieving results that will benefit the whole society. The conservation of nature and biodiversity is a collective effort that benefits the entire community.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: It can be very easy to make a difference for the environment by taking part in activities led by non-governmental organizations dedicated to the environment. Activities such as awareness workshops, observation and monitoring of species, or even clean-up and waste removal projects make a difference.

A career in the environmental sector requires a post-secondary or university diploma, preferably in a field of science.


Mark, Wildlife Enforcement Officer

Mark, Wildlife Enforcement Officer

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: As a uniformed Wildlife Enforcement Officer, I work cooperatively with federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Interpol. I enforce Canadian environmental and wildlife laws which protect Canada’s plant and animal species.  I help regulate hunting activities and international wildlife trade that could adversely affect long-term wildlife conservation.  Some of my duties include communicating with the public, conducting inspections and investigations, searching for evidence, arresting subjects, and charging those who violate Canada’s wildlife laws.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: Originally, I always had an interest in being outdoors and working with wildlife in Canada.  As I grew up, I switched from just wanting to work outdoors with wildlife, to wanting to help protect wildlife and the natural environment from being damaged or destroyed.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted to be a Fish and Wildlife Technician.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I am from Northern Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: My duties take me to various parts of Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Protecting wildlife by bringing to justice people who intentionally break Canadian environmental and wildlife laws for profit and who try to avoid being caught.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Foremost, being outdoors and working with wildlife in Canada.  There are many other rewarding parts to the job, including preventing poachers from exploiting endangered or threatened wildlife species for profit.  Preventing people from killing species at risk and destroying their habitats.  The job contributes to global wildlife conservation and protection by deterring the killing and sale of rare and endangered plant and animal species in the global illegal wildlife trade.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Obtain a post-secondary college or university education in natural resource management and resource law enforcement field of study.  Get work and volunteer experience in natural resource management and seek assistance with preparing your resume.


Suzie, Analyst, Environmental Assessments

Suzie, Analyst, Environmental Assessments

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am an analyst for environmental assessments. I review environmental impact studies for multiple projects (mining, wind farms, maritime works, dredging, etc.) and issue notices regarding Environment Canada issues that are sent to the project promoters.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I chose to work for Environment Canada because environmental protection has always been important to me.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I wanted a stimulating job that meant something to me, that respects my deepest values and in which I could feel I was being useful to society, while maintaining a balanced work-family life.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I am from Quebec and I grew up in nature in the beautiful Laurentians region.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I work near the Old Port of Montreal. It is a nice area because, on my lunch breaks, I can go outside and walk along the St. Lawrence River.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Occasionally, I have projects that allow me to get out and do some field work. I go around by boat collecting samples of contaminated sediment.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: I have the feeling I am making a small difference in the protection of our beautiful planet and our future generations… our children.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Believe in your abilities, work hard to get the necessary diplomas, persevere over and over and most of all… pursue your dreams!


Peter, Senior Enforcement Engineer

Peter, Senior Enforcement Engineer

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I am a Senior Enforcement Engineer and National Operational Advisor for Environment Canada’s the Enforcement Branch.  I provide specialty advice in environmental law enforcement policies, techniques and expert witness services.  I also assist in designing the plans, protocol and procedures for complex environmental investigations.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: I began researching toxic chemicals and how they were used in industry and the chain of reactions associated with their release into the environment. I then developed technical manuals for regulations to control these chemicals. When the enforcement division was created, I developed enforcement strategies to implement regulations, which led to working with the Department of Justice to prosecute these types of cases.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I originally wanted to work in the RCMP, but had a keen interest in science and engineering. I first enrolled in a technical college and studied engineering principles and laboratory chemistry techniques. Then I went to engineering school and finally pre-medicine to gain an understanding of biology and biochemistry and how toxic chemicals could affect living organisms.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: I am from the Fraser Valley in British Columbia and grew up in a rural community.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: I live in North Vancouver now and work in the Environment Canada Pacific Regional office in Downtown Vancouver.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: For some cases there were no tools to collect the evidence, so I designed and patented tools. This led to the ability to collect the evidence needed “to crack the case” which means finding the critical evidence that will prove the offence. Once you find that evidence, the development of the prosecution brief begins.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: The legal investigations I become involved with, often take four to seven years to complete, so there is a lot of hard work, perseverance and effort. Time and again, the successful outcome usually results in the significant reduction in pollution and seeing an industry change its practices which leads to a sustainable environment.

I also teach investigation techniques and provide training for all levels, from high school to college, university and international environmental agencies. Recently, I worked with INTERPOL to lead the development of a Pollution Crimes Forensics Investigations Manual which will be distributed to 190 countries. It will help developing countries build their own environmental law enforcement programs and has given me the opportunity to act locally and globally in protecting the environment.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: In order to truly be effective in making a difference for the environment and especially in the field of environmental law enforcement, you need a broad education that includes chemistry, biology and natural sciences. To do law enforcement, you also need an understanding of the legal system and how evidence is collected and presented in court. To present technical information, good communication and public speaking skills are essential, especially if you are a witness in court. Finally, as you progress, project management skills are necessary and apply to everything from how to study for exams to how to deal with large more complex environmental investigations.


Jeff, Application Chemist

Jeff, Application Chemist

Q: What do you do at Environment Canada?

A: I’m an application chemist, which means I help develop new ways of analyzing contaminants in the environment.

Q: Why did you choose that type of work?

A: The environment has always been important to me and I knew early on that I wanted to do something that would help protect it.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A: I never really had a specific job in mind. I pursued whatever was interesting and inspiring and worried about the rest later.

Q: What part of the country are you from?

A: Southern Ontario.

Q: Where do you work now?

A: Burlington, Ontario.

Q: What is the most exciting part of your job?

A: Coming up with a new way to solve a problem.

Q: What is the most rewarding part?

A: Seeing it put to use.

Q: What advice would you give a young person who is interested in making a difference for the environment/a career in government/specific job?

A: Think of something that fires your imagination and work hard towards it.