USJE member Nicole Akhenak met with Edmonton West Member of Parliament Kelly McCauley in his constituency office.
MP McCauley had some knowledge of Correctional Services. He displayed particular interest in the creation of the Structured Intervention Units (SIU) and clearly understood the burden that CSC places on employees. Akhenak reminded McCauley that USJE members are the backbone of public safety sites across Canada. Correctional Officers work to keep Canadians safe every day in very challenging circumstances without either recognition or sufficient resources.
Akhenak was able to address several of the challenges faced by Parole Officers with McCauley. She described the experience of USJE members who support the reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders within the Federal Framework to Reduce Recidivism without sufficient resources and staff. She explained that these structural issues were creating chronically unsustainable workloads and that this has a direct affect on the capacity of our members to keep the Canadian public safe.
McCauley understood the situation quite clearly and noted that he had personally asked Commissioner Anne Kelly how CSC was supposed to maintain performance levels with fewer personnel and a reduced budget. The Commissioner reassured him that CSC can cope with the current resources. Akhenak provided a copy of the Parole Officer report prepared by USJE.
While on the topic of shortages in resources, Akhenak mentioned the insufficient resources being provided to Indigenous offenders who are overrepresented in the federal justice system. McCauley requested that a list of these shortcomings be sent to him.
Lastly, Akhenak presented McCauley with USJE’s Presumptive Injury hand out and described how the mental health and well-being of our members are directly affected by the challenging and dangerous work performed on behalf of Canadians year in, year out. Akhenak hinted to McCauley that GECA, the Government Employee Compensation Act, needs urgent amendments in keeping with the advances in medical sciences over the last 60 years. These changes ought to include language to ensure that USJE members receive equal presumptive coverage in all provinces and territories.
Akhenak invited McCauley to visit the local prisons, the Edmonton Area Parole Office and the Stan Daniels Healing Lodge.