Regional Vice-President Jeff Sandelli met with New Democrat MP Leah Gazan at her constituency office in Winnipeg Centre for an animated and fruitful discussion. With her years of experience in community building in Winnipeg and her strong advocacy on Indigenous issues, it will not come as a surprise to our members that MP Gazan proved to be very receptive and supportive of our claims.
MP Gazan was provided with an overview of the roles that USJE members fulfill across 18 departments and agencies. It was reinforced that USJE members are the operational backbone of public safety sites across the country. The point was well established that our members go without the recognition and support usually afforded to many other public safety personnel.
Top of the discussion was the government’s current federal framework to reduce recidivism and the experience of our members in supporting reintegration and rehabilitation. MP Gazan identified how she has supported many organizations within her riding with the implementation of support models. The insufficient resources of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) budget that is allotted to the community parole offices and Community Correctional Centres were no news to Gazan.
In addition, a review was held of the insufficient resources and services that are being provided to Indigenous offenders that are overrepresented in the federal system. By MP Gazan’s own account, many offenders return to live within her riding where there are significant issues with poverty, addiction and crime.
The preceding dialogue was helpful in transitioning to the well-being of our members in the face of their challenging and sometimes dangerous work. Specific dialogue took place with respect to Occupational Stress Injuries and the current campaign (ptsiatwork.ca). The antiquated Government Employment Compensation Act (GECA) was referenced and how it needed to be amended to include language that would ensure that our members receive equalized presumptive coverage in all provinces and territories.
MP Gazan reaffirmed her dedication to ensuring the mental health of all her constituents as well as those that work within it, with reference to the Winnipeg Community Parole Office and the numerous half-way houses in her riding. She was in full agreement that our members needed to be healthy in mind and body in order to provide the critical services and support that is required.
Ms. Gazan highlighted that she was prepared to make herself available to speak at events and that she was prepared to write letters of support in order to assist our Union.
MP Gazan was first elected in 2019, when she participated in the USJE facilitated pre-election roundtable meeting in Winnipeg.