EDMONTON – More Albertans slammed the Government of Alberta for its careless approach to the province’s new Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defense (RAPID) Response this past week, adding to a chorus of people who are shocked by the UCP’s lack of public consultation in developing the emergency squad.
On April 1, Alberta Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Service announced on its Facebook page the official integration of about 114 Fish & Wildlife officers into RAPID. Starting this month, these hardworking members of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) will now respond to Priority One and Two calls, including Intimate Partner/Domestic Assaults and thefts, and assist RCMP in towns and small communities when they are unavailable or require backup.
Over the week the comments section on the post overflowed with Albertans calling for more protections and pay raises for the officers, who now are not only expected to protect Alberta’s wilderness, but also its residents. Some comments read:
“Ya cause they’re not underpaid already with the full time job they had before now having to do all this extra training and for a job they did not go to school to do…”
“It’s time to pay these officers appropriately for the duties required.”
“IF they have all of the training and more than RCMP and the gear ie firearms etc and are expected to assist or act alone with the same responsibilities as RCMP...they absolutely deserve and should demand equal pay...or exercize [sic] the right to refuse unsafe work.”
Many more users commented that the government was already overworking and understaffing these specialized officers before it introduced RAPID. AUPE Vice-President Mike Dempsey says, “I think Albertans are just sick of dealing with a government that’s out of touch with everyday people’s realities. Instead of consulting with working people, Kenney and his crew bulldoze Albertans with their ideological agenda. But we have a voice, and everyday people are pushing back with their own vision for a more vibrant province.”
Back in 2019, then-Minister of Justice Doug Schweitzer promised a pay raise to Fish & Wildlife officers and others in the RAPID plan for their additional, riskier duties. AUPE members received the appropriate training for the new role, which many were eager to fill, but the UCP didn’t fulfill its promise.
“They’re trying to poach the Fish & Wildlife team,” says Dempsey. “Kenney treats working people like their cogs in his pet-project machine, but we’re here to remind him, we’re not UCP pawns. We’re the powerhouse of this province, and he must pay members fairly for the vital work they do. Albertans agree, and they’re standing in solidarity with their neighbours.”
Before bargaining between AUPE members and the Government of Alberta reached an impasse last month, the union’s negotiating team tabled a Letter of Understanding (LOU) to get AUPE’s RAPID members a salary modifier, or top-up, equal to 20 per cent of their bi-weekly salary. The proposal remains outstanding.
For more information:
Contact Celia Shea, Communications 780-720-8122