USJE welcomes new Minister of Public Safety

The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, M.P (Beausejour)
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs
Government of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Minister LeBlanc:

As National President of the Union of Safety and Justice Employees (USJE), I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your new role as Minister of Public Safety, among your other roles. We recognize that this is a very important portfolio for your Government, and one that is both complex and dynamic.

USJE, the organization I lead, represents eighteen thousand federal public service employees who work within 18 departments and agencies under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Public Safety.

As National President, I personally bring an extensive background in the federal Correctional Service as a former Community Parole Officer working in Winnipeg, Manitoba – plus 14 years of combined service as a Regional Vice President and National Vice President with USJE.

However, more importantly, as a senior leader, I take great pride in advocating on behalf of the thousands of public service employees who:

  • protect the public safety of Canadians each and every day though their contributions to the federal Correctional system;
  • support the day-to-day operations of hundreds of RCMP detachments and provide their expertise to the operational and investigative work of the RCMP’s extensive network of Regional and National Headquarters throughout the country; and
  • perform crucial administrative work for all 18 departments and agencies.

Across these 18 departments and agencies, USJE’s members are comprised of highly dedicated personnel who are devoted to protecting the safety, privacy and security of Canadians as well as facilitating their access to information, justice and human rights.

As you transition into your new role, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you at your earliest convenience to brief you on some salient issues in regard to public safety. In particular, I believe it is imperative that your office and mine come together to directly address some ongoing risks to public safety personnel, and to the public safety of Canadians generally.

My priorities for our conversation include:

  • The unnecessarily slow implementation of key recommendations to improve the effectiveness and working conditions of RCMP Detachment Services Assistants who, in their capacity as federal public service employees, are at the operational backbone of every RCMP Detachment in the country.
  • The absence of robust relationships between local policing agencies and federal Corrections to support the successful re-integration of federal offenders with complex needs in order to minimize the risk to the public safety of Canadians. In response to the James Smith Cree Nation tragedy in 2022, USJE submitted a comprehensive pre-budget proposal in November 2022 on the restoration of the federal Community Correctional Liaison Program (total estimated annual cost of $5 million) which was cut by the Conservative government in 2014. This program remains unfunded by the Correctional Service of Canada and is a gaping hole in our public safety framework as evidenced by the senseless loss of life in James Smith Cree Nation, among others.
  • USJE’s recent public efforts to champion the invaluable role that the RCMP and all its Regular (Uniformed), Civilian and public service members play in keeping Canadians safe throughout the country, including in provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia where the merits and value of the RCMP have been recently under much fire by certain provincial and municipal leaders.
  • USJE’s groundbreaking research undertaken by one of Canada’s leading public safety researchers, Dr. Rose Ricciardelli, highlighting the extreme stress that Canada’s federal parole officers are under while supporting the crucial rehabilitation and reintegration of federal offenders. These stresses continue to mount owing to years of relentless streamlining of tasks by the Correctional Service, the unacceptably high caseloads of federal offenders with complex needs and social histories, the reduction of administrative supports, poor technology, and a disregard for the professional expertise that Institutional and Community Parole officers bring to the table.
  • Last but not least, the inclusion of federal public safety personnel in presumptive injury coverage through immediate amendments to the federal Government Employees Compensation Act. These amendments are required in order to rectify major gaps in provincial and territorial Worker’s Compensation legislation which frequently excludes thousands of federal public service employees, some of whom incur major psychological injuries owing to prolonged exposure to criminalized persons, evidence, related graphic materials, and victim information.

Over three different mandates of your Government, USJE has proven itself to be a dynamic, data driven organization committed to strong public policy outcomes and well-trained and supported public safety personnel. Throughout, I have had the opportunity to work closely with both Minister Goodale and Minister Mendicino, particularly as it has pertained to challenges within federal Corrections and the RCMP.

USJE has also had the pleasure of forging a strong working relationship with Parliamentary Secretary and Member of Parliament Pam Damoff, for whom we have great respect as a dedicated champion for strong public safety outcomes and all those working ‘behind the scenes’ to support that goal.

With Ms. Damoff’s support, USJE has appeared before several federal House of Commons committees focused on federal corrections, COVID impacts, and the implications of the recently adopted Bill C65. These committees include the Public Safety and Security committee, Status of Women, and Health.

At some of these Committees, USJE has shared its insight about the treatment of and opportunities to improve correctional and public safety outcomes for Indigenous, female and other vulnerable offender groups. USJE is well equipped to do this as we represent all Institutional and Community Parole Officers, Program Officers, tradespeople, frontline staff, teachers, administrative staff, among many others.

Finally, more recently, USJE launched its inaugural annual Public Safety Awards on Parliament Hill in March of 2023 where we celebrated six outstanding Canadians who have made remarkable contributions to advancing the public safety of Canadians.

I look forward to meeting with you later this fall, and believe our dialogue will be beneficial in supporting you in advancing your mandate to improve public safety outcomes for all Canadians.


David Neufeld
National President