Coast guard worker relieved of duties due to public comments

Coast guard employee relieved of his duties for publicly disagreeing with the federal government's decision to move the Marine Rescue Centres to Halifax. UPDATED

graphic of a head with mouth speaking with a red line through itHalifax (2 August 2011) - An employee of the coast guard in Halifax was relieved of his duties after posting a video to YouTube criticizing the federal government's cuts to services.

In June 2011, the federal government announced it was closing the Marine Rescue Centre in Newfoundland and Quebec and moving services to Halifax and Trenton. The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), a Component of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) has been an active, vocal member of the MAYDAY-NL Coalition to stop the planned closure of the Centre in St. John's.

The chorus of opposition has been growing stronger day-by-day but now has received major attention with news that an employee of the coast guard, based in Halifax, has been relieved of his duties due to public comments he made about the federal decision.

Jason Hamilton, a member of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees, aired his grievances on YouTube after finding out he was losing his job with the Halifax coast guard centre.

"There's going to be a number of job losses, apparently," said a despondent-looking Hamilton in the video. "That is quite disappointing. I'm quite upset about it."

"I intend to release some informative pieces to let the general public know what kind of service they are losing," said Hamilton in the video. The cuts are expected to save about $1.5 million, a figure Hamilton called a "pretty low price, considering the value of services and the lives of the men and women that work on the water in our country and their families."

The federal government refuses to change its mind and denies the cuts will impact services.

In the video, Hamilton says, "Me losing my job, it's not the end of the world. I can take another job, if I so choose, within the government," seeming more concerned about the cuts to essential public services. Yet, not a month later, he was relieved of his duties and put on administrative leave with pay.

No timeline has been made public as to when a decision will be made about Hamilton's future.

Update: According to a CBC news report, Hamilton was re-instated in early August without penalty. After the experience, he said, "I can't say I would change anything. I'm very grateful for all the public support and attention that's been given to me."

NAPE campaigns against closure of Maritime Rescue Centre in St. John's

NUPGE Labour rights campaign


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