Our BCGEU senior leaders took concerns of B.C. sheriffs right to the top in a meeting with B.C. Attorney General Niki Sharma last week.
BCGEU president Stephanie Smith and BCGEU vice-president, component 1 corrections and sheriff services, Dean Purdy; along with component 1 executive member Dave Iorizzo and local 101 member Jeremy Kerr presented a detailed proposal to the Attorney General. The proposal outlined wage concerns, the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis, and other key issues that continue to plague sheriff services.
Topics highlighted during the meeting included:
- Sheriffs' recruitment and retention / reduced JIBC Class
- Extended Work Week: (moving to a 37.5 or 40 hour work week)
- Expanding sheriffs' duties
- Moving sheriffs out of the Court Services Branch into its own branch under the Ministry of Attorney General
Recruitment and Retention
We updated the Minister on the severe recruitment and retention issues including the fact that the last few JIBC classes have only been able to train 10 new sheriffs on average per class over the past couple of years. We informed the Minister that there is language in our contract that allows us to negotiate a Temporary Market Adjustment (TMA) at any time during the life of our current contract.
We suggested to the Minister that a solution to the wage crisis would be to close the wage gap between B.C. sheriffs and police. This means we need immediate grid increases, reduce the growth series to one year for new hires and give five-year wage lifts for existing members. Our union made a strong case for immediate compensation adjustments to address this ongoing crisis.
Extended work week, expanding sheriffs' duties and more
The topic of extending the work week was also raised. This means that the work week would move to a 37.5-to-40-hour work week as a tangible solution to lift sheriffs' salaries.
Other topics included the expansion of sheriffs' duties and moving sheriffs out of the Court Services Branch and into their own branch within the Ministry of Attorney General. The latter would enable oversight and control by a law enforcement leader.
Closing the gap between sheriffs and police will help keep sheriffs in the service and is critical to be able to recruit. What we've been seeing is that as recruits graduate, they become very valuable to the other law enforcement agencies who are also hiring. After a short period of time trying to survive on sheriff wages, officers are often forced to apply to other agencies in order to survive and take care of their families.
We are optimistic that the Minister intends to take meaningful steps to address the issues we raised. We explained in great detail just how dire the B.C. sheriff services recruitment and retention crisis is and we offered concrete solutions to help mitigate these serious issues.
Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president
Dean Purdy, vice-president, component 1 corrections and sheriff services
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