On eve of International Women’s Week, USJE appeals to Commissioner to modify Return to Work policy

Commissioner Lucki asked to consider time needed to make appropriate arrangements for school-age dependents

Last week, National President David Neufeld and National Vice-President Lynette Robinson participated in an in-person meeting with Commissioner Brenda Lucki during her last regularly scheduled meeting with bargaining units representing public servants within the RCMP.

This is the first in-person meeting since the start of the pandemic, and the meeting was well attended. As this was Commissioner Lucki’s last meeting prior to her scheduled retirement in March, USJE wanted to ensure that we clearly highlighted the priorities of our members.

USJE echoed the concerns of several unions regarding the establishment of a minimum of three days in the office for all members of the RCMP, regardless of their role, responsibilities or location. The capacity of the RCMP to properly accommodate all staff in their existing physical locations is not clear, and there are real questions about accessing the appropriate technology at these work sites to continue to work in a hybrid manner, which is a necessity.       

Further, USJE objected to the implementation of this Return to Worksite policy by March 31, 2023 when public servants who are parents of young school age kids have very limited opportunities to secure before or after care at this point in the year (when most spots have been secured by other families).  

USJE spoke of the fact that there is no evidence that this new Treasury Board directive was subject to a gender based plus (GBA+) analysis because, as it is being implemented, it will have a disproportionately negative impact on public servants who are also active care-givers. It is quite difficult to secure before and after school spots mid-year, leaving many parents scrambling to find other arrangements and creating unnecessary stress and anxiety for public servants who have worked tirelessly since the pandemic began. 

The lack of consideration of the realities of thousands of public servants who have been successfully working from home while managing family responsibilities is an insult to all staff, and represents a significant misstep that will likely exacerbate ongoing recruitment and retention issues.    

The Commissioner agreed that there likely should be some flexibility on the implementation of the Return to Work policy until end of June, to give parents more time to secure the appropriate childcare arrangements for the upcoming school year.    

President David Neufeld also spoke of the challenges of staffing in northern and remote locations, and referred to his recent trip to the Arctic, where he met many of the dedicated staff who often work in sparsely populated locations with minimal personnel. He noted that the employment packages offered by the government of the Northwest Territories are generally more attractive, and that the RCMP cannot effectively compete for qualified personnel, leaving certain locations chronically short staffed.  

As a result of the conversations he has had in the North, Mr. Neufeld requested that a special working group to examine the challenges around recruitment and retention in the North be established, and that it be inclusive of the RCMP’s bargaining units.

At the end of the meeting, Mr. Neufeld and Ms. Robinson, on behalf of USJE, wished Commissioner Lucki the best in her future endeavours and thanked her for her many decades of service to the RCMP.