On January 31, 11 CSC Parole Officers from across the country joined USJE union representatives in Ottawa for a meeting with Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale. This opportunity allowed USJE to highlight the crucial roles Parole Officers undertake in Canada’s corrections system and the deep challenges they face in an under-resourced and overburdened correctional system.This first meeting allowed USJE to establish a good working relationship with the Minister and we look forward to future meetings where we can address the key work and challenges of more of our hardworking members.
During this meeting, USJE President Stan Stapleton, National Vice-President David Neufeld (CSC Community-PBC-West) and Regional Vice-President Zef Ordman (CSC Alberta), accompanied a diverse group of Parole Officers from five USJE regions who are among the approximately 1600 federal Parole Officers working in Canada’s correctional institutions and communities. These public safety workers support the ongoing rehabilitation of federal offenders from the time offenders enter the correctional system to their re-entry into society.
In individual presentations to Minister Goodale and his staff, USJE members set the stage for the deep challenges they face in supporting the rehabilitation journey of an offender – from intake assessment to institutional incarceration to release into the community.
Most of the speakers focussed on issues related to increasing workloads and the resulting emotional and physical toll on Parole Officers. Experiences were shared by Institutional Parole Officers, Intake Parole Officers and Community Parole Officers from the community and Community Correctional Centres.
Minister Goodale engaged actively in the one hour meeting, asking perceptive questions and seeking clarification on numerous issues brought forward. In concluding, the Minister thanked USJE members for their perspectives, telling them he would like to harness the ideas presented around the table, and noting that “grappling with the toughest issues facing society is the fundamental challenge of Corrections Services Canada”.
The meeting was a successful and productive step toward strengthening USJE relationships with Minister Goodale. USJE looks forward to future meetings with the Minister on behalf of all our members working to ensure the public safety of Canadians.
Some of the concerns raised:
- Caseload sizes need to be reduced across the board (CCC’s to a pre-DRAP ratio of 1:8)
- More resources are needed in the community to address the increasing offender population, including more Parole Officers, access to psychologists and other supports
- Parole Officer burnout and job-induced stress and anxiety is growing across the country
- Increased pressure for day parole is compromising risk assessment
- The need for better staff safety tools to protect the safety of our members
- “Ad- ons” or “best practices” are adding additional work to the Parole Officer workload
- The need for clerical and administrative support for Parole Officers
- The risk to public safety when Parole Officers are inundated with too much work
- The elimination of the Community Correctional Liaison Officer position and its impact on Parole Offices across Canada
- The elimination of the Hamilton Community Correctional Centre and how that has impacted the supervision of offenders in Ontario
- Lack of Parole Officer backfilling and the negative effect on workload