National President visits Prairies to hear from members on “new normal” at work

National President David Neufeld visited several Locals in the Prairies recently to see how USJE members are finding work under the Employer’s “new normal” plans and to learn more about how the union could better support them at the national level.

David met with local executive members from Regina RCMP Depot Local 40002 and Regina RCMP (F Division) Local 40008 at a restaurant in Regina on March 27th to hear more about the issues important to them and to share USJE’s progress on implementing the Strategic Plan developed in November 2021.

Local Presidents Satinder Bains (Depot) and Jaymie Dovell (F Division) were both present for this meeting and discussed some of the local challenges in their workplaces, which included the new Guidelines on Telework and the Decision Tree. David was able to draw on their discussions on return to work in his meeting of the National Labour Management Consultation Committee with the RCMP later that week.

They also spoke about the release of the report on Detachment Services Assistants and occupational stress injuries, and USJE’s plans to share the report more broadly. Satinder, who is on the PSAC collective bargaining team for SV Group, gave an update on the bargaining for the SVs, including a key concern about pensionable salary.

David then visited the RCMP Airdrie Detachment in southern Alberta on March 30th. Regional Vice-President Valda Behrens was able to join the visit and to participate in a tour of the offices. Local President Karen Hess (Local 30009) provided the tour which gave them a chance to speak to many USJE members.

Members spoke about staffing challenges and the lengthy security clearances that impact staff’s ability to move into higher positions indeterminately as well as work-life balance.

David and Valda also had the opportunity to meet Detachment Commander Lauren Weare, supervisors, municipal employees and officers, and learn more about this “super detachment”, which is so named because the detachment shares the building with several other groups such as Serious Crimes Branch staff.

On his last stop, David went to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge on the Nekaneet First Nation, a 30-minute drive from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, on April 1st. Local 40150 President Tonya Missens gave him a tour. David met a number of USJE members working in various roles at the Healing Lodge, where Indigenous women offenders are taught Nekaneet practices, culture and values, and participate in Nekaneet ceremonies as part of their programs.

Most members live in the areas around the facility and have had a hybrid model of working during the pandemic. David spoke to many members who said they were happy to be on site more often now and to have more connection with the residents.

David also met with the head of the Healing LodgeRachel Parker, whose title is Kikawinaw, “mother” in Cree. They spoke about the challenges of operating the Healing Lodge during the pandemic and the strategies the Healing Lodge used to address them. Kikawinaw Parker was proud that the site has never had a COVID outbreak and identified that she would continue to support the hybrid work model for staff. 

David, who described feeling a sense of calm as he walked through the Healing Lodge, said it was clear that the Healing Lodge had adjusted well during the pandemic, finding unique ways to deliver programs and services. Some challenges remain around access to psychological resources for the residents and institutional drivers to take the residents out on Escorted Temporary Absences to the community.

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