EDMONTON – Plans to use peace officers to respond to rural police emergencies will fail unless the government provides adequate resources, hires more officers – and improves its disastrous approach to labour relations, says the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE).
"Our members who work as peace officers in the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch and the traffic arm of the Alberta Sheriffs, are proud of serving the public and many would be interested in doing more for their communities," says Guy Smith, president of AUPE, which represents 96,000 workers in the public and private sectors.
"However, while the government has announced that it will expand the scope of practice of these 400 dedicated workers, it hasn't been clear enough on how it will support them. This can be dangerous work. The government must hire more officers or provide extra resources if they want this plan to succeed," says Smith.
“Albertans in rural communities deserve a plan that will work. Our members want a plan that will work," he says.
"These peace officers are already overworked – often to the point of exhaustion and burnout. Now, this government wants to throw more work on them, without a word about how they will absorb these extra emergency duties. Does the Justice Minister think these 400 people are currently sitting around with nothing to do? If so, that's an appalling insult to their hard work and dedication to serve," says Smith.
"Unfortunately, this government has shown utter disrespect for working Albertans. It has insulted AUPE members. It says we need to slash the number of public-sector staff by nearly eight per cent, it says we are overpaid – and then turns around and says we need them to do more with less. Anyone who has ever worked outside of politics will tell you this is astoundingly bad management, a recipe bound to fail."
Less than three weeks ago, the government announced a similar plan for Licensed Practice Nurses (LPNs), saying their scope of practice would be broadened and that they would be asked to do more work. Two weeks later, it told those same LPNs that they should accept a two-per-cent wage rollback.
"This government cannot continue to slap us in the face, attempt to demean us in the eyes of the public, attack our wages, our constitutional rights and then demand we take on more responsibility, more risk and more work. You cannot declare war on workers and then ask them for favours."
Terry Inigo-Jones, Communications, 403-831-4394