On October 17, National President David Neufeld and RVPs Heather McKinnon and Shauna Ward visited RCMP detachments in La Ronge and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and met with Detachment Services Assistants (DSAs) at each site.
In La Ronge, the USJE team held a meet and greet with the four members on duty. The DSAs were keen to have the ear of the USJE representatives and shared what it was like to work in the remote detachment.
The members identified the challenges faced in staffing positions in the detachment. In particular, the remote detachment is losing candidates due to the length of time it takes to proceed through the RCMP hiring process., The use of extended term contracts and a lack of accessible childcare were also among the concerns raised with the USJE representatives.
Members also mentioned how difficult it is to attract local candidates for positions: in the last competition, most applicants were from outside the province. There were concerns about increased workloads due to staffing issues, and the importance of indeterminate positions for continued institutional knowledge in the DSA role.
President Neufeld spoke about the 2022 report, The Mental Health and Well-being of Detachment Services Assistants in The Royal Canadian Mounted Police: A Qualitative Investigation and pointed out safety concerns at the detachment. RVP McKinnon committed to follow up with management about DSA safety at the site.
In Prince Albert, the USJE team were provided a tour of the detachment, followed by a meet and greet with two DSAs. The two members were newer hires, still within their first year in the DSA position.,
The USJE representatives heard similar concerns around staffing, workloads and backfill. It was also identified that having virtual union meetings would make participation in the union easier for members with children, given the distance between sites and a lack of childcare.
RVP McKinnon detailed the work being done to advocate for wellness time for DSAs to match the time provided to RCMP Regular Members. And since the DSAs were still relatively new, RVP Ward suggested they take advantage of PSAC’s free $10,000 life insurance program for members in good standing.
At both sites, President Neufeld provided an explanation of USJE’s ongoing work to protect our members, including the introduction of a National Strike Fund to help workers during future strikes, and Bill C-357, An Act to amend the Government Employees Compensation Act.
USJE would like to thank all the members in La Ronge and Prince Albert who took the time to meet with us and share their experiences and thoughtful questions.