Our latest edition of Vigilance magazine is available. Here is the first article from this new edition.
Since the last publication of Vigilance, UCCO‑SACC-CSN ventured into the summer and early fall months with the goal of bringing members together outside of the workplace. Social media exploded with photos of union life events across the country.
There were family days, BBQs, basketball games, and sporting events hosted by nearly every local. A special thanks to the organizers of these events, and thanks to all who participated. We truly are “Stronger Together” on many different fronts.
It has been over two months since the federal election, and on November 20th, a new Minister of Public Safety and President of the Treasury Board was appointed. During the election, the Liberals made a promise to correctional officers. In their election platform, they announced they would be including correctional officers among those eligible for the memorial grant for first responders, as a result of intense lobbying on the part of UCCO‑SACC‑CSN. The Liberal government has since stated, in their Speech from the Throne, that they are intending to follow through on this promise. This grant would provide the family/estate of a correctional officer killed in the line of duty with a one-time tax-free award of $300,000 to recognize the sacrifice the correctional officer made for public safety. Your National Executive will continue to push for this promise made to correctional officers, and we remain determined to be recognized as first responders for this grant and in the eyes of Canadians.
As we await the decision of the Simons’ case related to harm reduction initiatives in our institutions, we will continue to put pressure on our employer and the government with regard to the current Prison Needle Exchange Program and its risk to our safety. The employer has continued its rollout of the needle exchange program in both Mission Institution and Dorchester Penitentiary, knowing full well that a safer option exists. Overdose Prevention Sites are in place at Drumheller Institution and will soon be online at Springhill Institution. Given our lessons learned at Drumheller, the OPS has proven to be a much safer option for all staff. However, given the costs associated with the program, CSC seems unwilling to make it standard across institutions. As CSC has indicated that it must continue with a gradual rollout of a program that addresses harm reduction to appease the Court, UCCO‑SACC‑CSN will continue to push for the option that reduces potential harm for its members.
The structured intervention unit model is now our reality. Bill C-83 (An Act to Amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and Another Act) received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. The Correctional Service was given until November 30th to implement policy changes that reflect the new legislation, which has abolished segregation in our institutions. This new reality has seen its challenges since its implementation on November 30th, and your National Executive will continue to press any labour relations issues or issues affecting the health and safety of our members at all levels of our structure. Staff safety is paramount and will continue to be at the forefront of our agenda. Bill C-83 also authorized the use of body scanners. A CCRR regulation for using this tool is being drafted. We will also continue to engage with the employer on this issue, as body scanners will indeed become a very useful tool for us to mitigate drug/contraband introduction and facilitate weapons seizure in our workplaces.