"The issues we raised don’t just affect the working conditions of our members, they also have a serious impact on our justice system." — Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President
Vancouver (22 April 2016) — Yesterday, Stephanie Smith, President of the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) met with Suzanne Anton, Minister of Justice. Also attending the meeting were BCGEU Vice-Presidents Dean Purdy of Corrections and Sheriff Services, Doug Kinna of Social, Information and Health, Lori Joaquin of Administrative Services, Maria Middlemiss, first Vice-chair of Component 12, and Michael Eto, BCGEU Regional Coordinator. Minister Anton was accompanied by her deputy minister and other senior staff.
BCGEU/NUPGE provides Minister of Justice with recommendations to address serious issues
The BCGEU leadership raised a number of key issues with Minister Anton, including the shortage of sheriffs and courthouse staff that is causing delays in the justice system and compromising courthouse safety. The team highlighted the importance of getting to the hearing stage in the ongoing Benchmark Review process for sheriffs so that they may address serious recruitment and retention problems and ensure wage parity with other law enforcement occupations. Issues related to staff training and job postings were discussed and among other concerns, they touched on a number of safety issues relevant to members in Court Services.
“This meeting gave us the opportunity to meet with the Minister and raise the concerns we are hearing from our front-line members,” said Stephanie Smith. “The issues we raised don’t just affect the working conditions of our members, they also have a serious impact on our justice system. We offered the minister specific suggestions on how we believe these services can be improved to create better working conditions for our members.”
Staff shortages, inadequate safety measures having an impact on the administration of justice
The problems in the B.C.justice system are well known to the legal community. In February, Justice Robert Johnston of the B.C. Supreme Court had to shut down a trial in Victoria because of a staff shortage. He told the crowded courtroom, “The province of British Columbia has failed in its constitutional obligation to properly fund the administration of justice.”
"I was pleased at the receptive and informed responses we received from Minister Anton on the issues we raised, including our suggestion to establish a joint working group. We will be looking for opportunities to work with the Minister and ministry staff to advance our recommendations,” said Smith.
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