Yellowknife, Sept. 8 – National President David Neufeld, Regional Vice-President Valda Behrens and Local President, Samuel Bourget, met with Mandi Bolstad, Assistant Deputy Minister and Solicitor General in the Department of Justice in the North-West Territories. This meeting aimed to highlight the role that USJE members play in keeping Canadians safe and transmit to the Premier Cochrane’s office the details around our Presumptive Injury Campaign.
USJE identified that there are approximately 60 USJE members in the Northwest Territories, most of them working in the Yellowknife area. These members work with the RCMP, Public Prosecutions Services Canada, Department of Justice, Public Safety and the Correctional Service of Canada.
The discussion focused on USJE’s Presumptive Injury Campaign and the needs of USJE members when they develop operational stress injuries caused by direct or indirect exposure to trauma in the line of duty. USJE called upon the Government of the Northwest Territories to join the growing ranks of federal Members of Parliament who have already signaled clear support for our campaign. The Territorial Government was further encouraged to examine how the territorial workers compensation legislation should be modified in order to provide USJE members with presumptive injury compensation.
President Neufeld and RVP Behrens later visited the Yellowknife Parole Office and met with the four USJE members who serve the entire Territory by themselves. They shared their views on the challenges of working in a northern office with a managerial support line located in the Prairies one thousand kilometers to the South. It was identified that, due to the restricted size of the office, each staff member generally fulfills many extra duties. The members explained that community supervision activities require contracted services with Probation Services due to the vast distances separating the supervised offender and the Parole Office. Parole Officers are also required to travel long distances to see offenders outside of Yellowknife. Community resources are lacking, particularly access to Community Elders and culturally sensitive programming.
Members advised that there continues to be an element of flexibility in their present working environment and confirmed that it is possible to conduct a large amount of their duties off site through remote working. President Neufeld indicated that building a hybrid work environment remains a top priority for USJE and that discussions are on-going at the national level.
President Neufeld was particularly honored to visit Yellowknife and to see the incredible work our members do to help keep their communities safe. President Neufeld and RVP Behrens owe a debt of gratitude to their host in the North, Lorraine Rousseau and to the PSAC regional office.
The visit was also the occasion to remember the loss in the line of duty of our colleague, Parole Officer Louise Pargeter back in 2004. In memoriam.