This morning, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, in collaboration with MPP Gilles Bisson (Timmins-James Bay) and a Nishnawbe-Aski police service member, called on the federal and provincial governments to fund First Nations policing adequately and equitably.
This follows the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS local 00401) returning an overwhelming strike mandate last week.
NAPS officers provide culturally-sensitive policing services in 35 First Nation communities, covering two-thirds of Ontario, from Thunder Bay to Hudson’s Bay.
“PSAC has been a leader in protecting and defending the rights of Aboriginal Peoples for decades on issues such as safe drinking water, justice for missing and murdered Indigenous Women and First Nations children, to name a few,” said Sharon DeSousa, PSAC Regional Executive Vice President for Ontario.
“The discriminatory underfunding of First Nations policing needs to stop. We are calling on federal and provincial commitment to rectify this injustice immediately. Officers and community members have been bearing the burden of under-funding too long,” added DeSousa.
“NAPs front line officers work under conditions that can only be described as Third World. They are not given anywhere near the same support as municipal police or the Ontario Provincial Police. This needs to change immediately,” said NDP MPP Gilles Bisson.
“Officers are working alone without proper infrastructure, support, or back up. They don’t want to leave these communities but are desperate to get action on funding. It is reaching crisis levels and officers are paying the price while communities are not being served,” concluded Jason Storkson, a police office in the community and union local president.
NAPS officers have been trying to enforce an arbitrator’s decision from 2015 that would see them move closer to Ontario Provincial Police compensation, who perform similar duties in non-First Nation communities. In addition to equitable wages, NAPS officers are looking for increased staffing and addressing health and safety issues. Many officers work in remote northern communities alone and with back up a minimum of four hours away.