The holiday season is now behind us, and we’re looking forward to 2024 with fervent energy. Your National Executive wishes every member a very happy new year and all the best in 2024. This year is going to be a busy one.
In March or April, members will be asked to attend local general assemblies to vote local budgets and other local resolutions. 2024 is also an election year in each of our locals. This is the time to get involved and create the union you want. Negotiations will also be a priority this year. We have already planned several negotiation sessions with the Treasury Board and Correctional Services Canada. The start of this new year will begin particularly hot with our disagreement with the employer over schedules. The hearing of our unfair practice complaint will take place from April 23 to 25 in Montreal. The union has also filed a policy grievance on this issue. Though sites will continue to have conversations at the local level, proposing suitable scheduling options that take into consideration our historical hours of work, we remain steadfast against the employer about changing the scheduling principles while in negotiations, and any effort made by them to unilaterally impose their schedule proposals.
Here are some important updates from meetings that took place before the holidays.
Dual Threat Vests
We received some bad news in December. The tendering process for our dual threat vests concluded and was inconclusive. Only one company submitted a bid, and after study by the employer, that company did not satisfy two technical criteria in the specs. One criterion concerned the resistance from a 12-gauge magnum rifled slug 547 grain shotgun ammunition. The second criterion, also required in the tender, which does not seem viable, is protection against ceramic weapons without a substantial concession on the weight of the vest. CSC is working with Public Service and Procurement Canada to remove these two components from the next call for tenders and would like to move forward quickly to ensure a speedy process. We are following this issue closely and look forward to hearing from CSC and the government on the progression of this important tool.
Multi-Union Meeting December 23
Each year, one of our National Labour Management Consultation Committee Meetings is replaced with a meeting with the employer and all the other unions in the correctional service. This year, the employer’s agenda centred around the values and ethics of the service. There were various presentations, which focused on ethical approaches to address substance abuse in Canada. Presentations were given by Julie Hartleib, (Health Canada) — A renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, Dr. Kim Corace, (The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre) — Substance Use Disorder is a Health Condition: How do we bridge the gaps in care? and a presentation by Det. Insp. Connor King — Police approach to addressing substance use. What remained clear during these presentations is that not all strategies implemented in our communities can be implemented in a carceral setting. This forum provided an excellent platform for UCCO-SACC-CSN to discuss the problem-plagued program that is PNEP with other union leaders present as well. Several recommendations were made during this forum, including the elimination of PNEP. We hope that the employer takes this feedback seriously.
National Health and Safety Policy Committee
The last NHSPC meeting took place on December 13. The agenda was very full for this meeting with several standing items as well as examining the employer’s recent decision to remove tools such as Skat Shell munitions and light bars for escort vehicles. However, the employer came to the table ill prepared, showing no respect for the role this committee plays in our membership’s health and safety. In fact, as the employer’s chair was absent for the meeting, and the substitute chair left the meeting halfway through, they needed to scramble to have a chairperson. The employer then informed the committee that they no longer wanted to discuss the Prison Needle Exchange Program as a standing item in this committee, even though many questions and statistical information remain unanswered. This committee, which is mandated by the Canadian Labour Code, is not being taken seriously by our employer and we will now explore our recourse through Employment and Social Development Canada. Our members’ health and safety are non-negotiable, and the employer must live up to their obligations under the Code.
Senate Bill S-230
Bill S-230 (An act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act), sponsored by Senator Kim Pate, was first read in the Senate on Dec 2nd. After its second reading, it was referred to a committee to study its impact. This bill aims to make changes to our SIUs, most specifically in terms of implementing a 48-hour cap in a SIU, unless ordered by a court. The bill also includes several other changes that would most certainly have a negative impact on our work. The Commissioner of CSC, Anne Kelly, testified before the Senate on this bill in December. The bill is currently being studied by the Research Department of the CSN to prepare for our testimony in committee in early February. Here’s the link to the summary and full text of the bill:
Direction was recently sent to the sites that as part of an agreement made in 2019, resulting from the Phoenix Damages Settlement that the carry-over for this fiscal year will be 248 hours. Unless otherwise requested by an employee, members will carry over 248 hours of leave into the next fiscal year. We are pleased that the employer honoured this commitment made to the union in 2019.
We have begun consultation with the employer on the implementation of body scanners across the country. Once the procurement process is completed, we should start seeing some body scanners in place by the fall of 2024.
Your National Executive