'While the ministry has been doing some work to improve workload conditions, there is still a long way to go.'
Vancouver (10 Dec. 2010) - Issues of concern to British Columbia probation officers were raised with Rich Coleman, minister of public safety and solicitor general, at a meeting this week in Victoria.
"Probation officers are facing a number of issues such as workload and an increasingly difficult clientele," says Doug Kinna, chair of the social, information and health component of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).
"I was pleased we were able to raise these issues directly with Minister Coleman," says Kinna.
"More recently, probation officers are having to deal with clients who have complex problems like mental illness. This makes it increasingly difficult to monitor and work with clients," he says.
"While the ministry has been doing some work to improve workload conditions, there is still a long way to go," said Kinna. "We have offered to work with the employer to review programs and policies with a focus on reducing workload as there are no resources available to increase staffing at this time."
Kinna says so many duties have been downloaded to probation officers that they now spend too much time on paperwork and administration.
He also notes that recruitment and retention of probation officers is an issue of concern with many officers opting to work for the federal government because of higher pay.
Darryl Walker, BCGEU president, says Coleman made "a commitment to follow up on the issues" discussed and the union will be "sure to check back and see what progress has been made."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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