National President, David Neufeld, and Regional Vice-President, Zef Ordman, conducted a tour of Bowden Institution.
The institutional tour began at the cook chill facility located outside of Bowden Institution that serves Edmonton Institution, Bowden Institution and Drumheller Institution. None of our members were working in the kitchen during the tour. USJE representatives were told that, while the building is relatively new, it faces issues with keeping the equipment operational and that these issues can impact overall production. President Neufeld and RVP Ordman inquired about the quality of the food prepared at the site and whether changes to the national menu have resulted in a better product. The quality of the food does diminish from the time it is prepared at the facility and when the finishing touches are done at the serving site. The facility produces over 1000 servings per day.
The representatives then met with the Sentence Management Officers (SMO) and discussed their long-standing concerns with workload. The SMOs reported that each of them is assigned over 300 inmate files and that the current regional approach leaves them severely understaffed in the Prairie Region. USJE has been raising this issue at the Regional and National level for quite some time now and in fact has completed an internal survey which confirmed these concerns. President Neufeld and RVP Ordman stated that USJE will continue to advocate on the issues of workload and telework for SMOs at the regional and national levels.
The USJE representatives then visited the Food Service Officers in the kitchen. President Neufeld learned that much of the equipment in the kitchen is approximately 25 years old and that the members are often frustrated by the amount of broken equipment in their kitchen. RVP Ordman asked the members to raise these issues at their Local Occupational Health and Safety Committee level and committed to raising these issues through the LMC process as well. The representatives shared information on USJE’s Food Service Officer Campaign and encouraged the members to stay in touch regarding their working conditions.
President Neufeld and RVP Ordman then visited Pathways Unit and other living Units. This stop provided the opportunity to meet with some case management staff and talk to several Institutional Parole Officers and a Manager of Assessment Intervention. The representatives were keen to learn about the workload on the Pathways Unit and the importance of CSC to increase the amount of time provided to work individually with inmates on their healing and reintegration plans. The staff emphasized that report writing tends to take up much of their time and that they find it difficult to finish reports when working on-site. It was stated that teleworking arrangements are much appreciated and allow staff to be more focused and efficient. The availability of Elders to work with the inmates was also a concern raised and will be something that will be shared with CSC NHQ later this month in Ottawa at the Senior Executive Meeting.
President Neufeld and RVP Ordman were able to visit other buildings on site and spend some time with the members in Institutional Maintenance. Both Neufeld and Ordman wish to thank the management of Bowden Institution for their support of the visit.