USJE Local President Alex Creamer secured a meeting with his Member of Parliament, Blake Richards, the Conservative MP for the riding of Banff-Airdrie. The meeting was originally supposed to take place at Richard’s riding office but the harsh winter weather in southern Alberta prompted the conversation to move over to zoom.
Creamer informed Richards about the priorities of USJE members. Top of the billing in the conversation was the Presumptive Injury Campaign that aims to extend coverage for operational stress injuries to first responders. Creamer described the challenges of working in Corrections, as well as the other departments represented by USJE, and how these have an impact on the mental health of public safety employees. Creamer explained that these needs require a broader Federal legislation than what currently exists to ensure better coverage for our members. Mr. Richards said he is very supportive of this effort and is willing to speak to his colleagues and work with them to support USJE’s goals in this campaign.
Following this, the on-going difficulties that PSAC is facing at the bargaining table with Treasury Board were presented to Richards. Strike votes were also mentioned. The MP agreed that it would be preferable to avoid a strike and agreed to engage with his colleagues in the Conservative caucus to pressure the government to present an offer that includes fair wage increases and hybrid work provisions.
Lastly, Creamer addressed the 418,000 pay actions outstanding with the Phoenix Pay System. Richards was informed that 10,000 overpayment letters have been sent while another 37,000 are expected. Creamer asked that the MP raise awareness among other Members of Parliament that the Pay System is still a major issue in the public service seven years after its introduction. It was suggested that a sponsored petition to request a Public Inquiry into the Phoenix Pay System be launched. Mr. Richards shared that he would be willing to discuss with other MPs about finding an appropriate sponsor for such a petition.