The BC Auditor General's latest report reveals that BC Sheriff Services (BCSS) does not have an adequate plan in place to recruit, retain and train its staff.
The audit was performed due to chronic short staffing of sheriffs in BC's courts, and confirmed your union's ongoing concerns about retention being a critical issue. The report indicated that between 2012 and 2017, the BCSS lost more staff than it was able to recruit, leading to a staffing shortage. Read more here.
For years, Dean Purdy, Vice President, BCGEU Corrections and Sheriff Services Component, voiced his concerns about police agencies actively recruiting both sheriffs and correctional officers. "Our members continue to leave on a regular basis to higher paying policing jobs because of the $30,000 wage differential between them and the average municipal police salary. We need to close the gap," says Purdy.
Despite last year's government funding announcement for an additional class of sheriffs to be trained at the B.C. Justice Institute, the retention problem will not improve until wages are addressed. In fact, sheriffs' exit surveys in recent years have indicated that 80 per cent of sheriffs that have left the service pointed to wages as the number one reason why they are leaving.
"A solution the union has been pointing to for the past year, and have mandated from the last round of bargaining, is to discuss moving to a 40-hour work week," says Purdy. "This would move sheriffs on par with what all police forces work -- and most other provinces -- and move their salaries closer to municipal police and the RCMP. This would make it easier to recruit and keep good, qualified sheriffs."
The audit also painted a poor picture of BCSS training requirements, finding that that less than 40 per cent of sheriffs requalified on their ongoing mandatory firearm and use of force training on time. "This is obviously concerning to us and for the safety of our members who protect the public and courthouse staff."
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