(Montreal) By offering the services of a chief scientific adviser, the City of Longueuil will make better decisions and show greater transparency, believes its mayor, Catherine Fournier. When the position posted since April 3 is filled, the municipality will become the second in Quebec to use this kind of expertise, but the first to create such a paid position within its administration.
According to the elected official, this upcoming hiring follows a bill that she had tabled in 2021, when she was an independent deputy for Marie-Victorin in the National Assembly, and in which she proposed, among other things, the appointment of a chief statistician and better circulation of the information collected by the Institut de la statistique du Québec from the various departments.
However, the whole thing had not gone beyond the stage of presentation in the Chamber.
“What I observed when I was an MP, and particularly during the pandemic, is that we often had a lack of scientific data to support our decision-making,” explains the main interested party in an interview with La Canadian Press.
“I feel like making blind decisions because the data that would be useful to us doesn’t exist is unacceptable. [The absence of this data] also deprives us of a unit of measurement to evaluate our improvement on certain aspects,” she adds.
In making the leap into municipal politics, Ms. Fournier wanted to take up her idea, supported by the distinct appeal of Quebec’s chief scientist, Rémi Quirion, who invited municipalities to be advised by scientists.
The mandate of the future Chief Scientific Advisor will be rich: in addition to undertaking research projects on the issues he deems relevant, he will also be able to advise elected officials and municipal employees on the best approaches to collect data, validate the scientific procedures undertaken and build bridges with the teaching and research establishments located in or near Longueuil.
The results of this research will eventually be made public, for the sake of transparency towards the population, promises Ms. Fournier.
“The goal is to make the public apparatus more transparent, so that we can better popularize the directions taken by the City and support them with data,” said the mayor.
“It’s our responsibility as elected officials, but having a chief scientist to support the administration, and perhaps even explain certain issues to the population himself, will partially meet this objective,” adds- she.
In Victoriaville, which initiated the movement last January, the appointment of Simon Barnabé as chief scientific advisor is rather honorary, while the researcher has been collaborating with the municipality without remuneration for a few years now.
According to the job offer posted on the Municipal Information Network, the position of Chief Scientific Advisor in Longueuil will be paid between $110,700 and $138,295 annually, for a renewable three-year term.
The Ville de Longueuil’s chief scientific advisor will report to the general management, which will allow him to intervene with all municipal departments. He will also work closely with the City’s Office of Organizational Performance, whose mandate includes the development of a data culture, said Fournier.
This guarantees the future managerial employee total independence.
The posting period for the position will end on April 17. Ms. Fournier hopes that the person selected for the position will begin their duties in early summer.