BCGEU meets with officials to address escalating violence in Youth Corrections

The meeting was productive: the employer acknowledged that serious health and safety problems exist and that concerted, corrective action needs to be taken immediately.

Vancouver (19 Sept. 2016) — Members of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) met with senior officials from Youth Custody Services and Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to discuss health and safety problems, and the escalating levels of violence at youth corrections facilities.

Meeting follows serious incidents 

BCGEU/NUPGE requested the meeting following 3 serious incidents at Burnaby Youth Custody Services (BYCS): a riot on July 19, a disturbance and police stand-off on August 25, and a fire in a segregation unit on September 5.

BCGEU/NUPGE believes the levels of violence in youth corrections are increasing and that the type of violence is also more serious. There is a troubling lack of consequences for the youth who do act violently while in custody. This increases the likelihood that other inmates will also act out violently.

The meeting was productive: the employer acknowledged that serious health and safety problems exist and that concerted, corrective action needs to be taken immediately.

Major health and safety issues discussed with senior government officials

At the meeting the discussion focused on many issues, including

  • Officers must be made aware of risk assessments on every youth in custody. Delays informing staff of the behaviour and history of each youth puts staff at risk.
  • Enhanced training for staff (including restraint training and scenario work such as cell extraction).
  • Managers will be more visible and involved on living units, working and interacting with staff and inmates.
  • Tools to protect officers (including pepper spray and restraints).
  • New procedures to ensure safety at the In-Patient Assessment Unit.
  • Improvements needed on the joint Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committee.
  • The need for an updated Terms of Reference for the joint OHS committee.
  • A review of the OHS program to identify any gaps. Any gaps will be closed and regular follow-up will ensure there is no backsliding.
  • Steps to ensure the joint OHS committee is fully trained and functioning at a high level.
  • Active involvement by union members in all aspects of incident investigations.
  • Upgrades that are coming to increase the security of doors and windows at BYCS.
  • Cutlery will accompany, and be removed with, meal trays. 

Many of these safety issues have been identified in the past and have not been addressed in a meaningful way. The employer and the union have agreed to a follow-up meeting to measure the progress and improvements to ensure that health and safety risks are addressed in a timely and meaningful way in order to hold the management at the BYCS accountable for keeping BCGEU Component 1 members safe and preventing violence in the workplace. 

NUPGE 

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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