PSAC/USGE locals are responsible for day to day dealings with the employer where trained individuals deal with health and safety related matters. Locals are provided with professional assistance and representation for all labour relations matters including health and safety.
PSAC offers a tremendous web of professional support to its members, including health and safety and worker’s compensation assistance from staff in each region of the country, from staff within each component as well as from staff of the national health and safety program.
PSAC and Mental Health
- PSAC is a union at the forefront of Mental Health. PSAC was instrumental in the development of the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the workplace, the first of its kind in the world.
- PSAC’s commitment to mental health work, (evaluation, prevention, recognition and treatment), is incomparable. For instance, PSAC’s two most recent National Health and Safety Conferences focused on mental health and provided resources and training to every participant on the concrete steps to be taken to support the psychological health and safety of everyone in the workplace.
- The Mental Health Task Force is a joint union-management working group providing specific direction to federal public service departments and agencies in key areas to help guide their mental health efforts. The Mental Health Task Force came about because of PSAC’s long-term commitment and dedication to addressing mental health issues with the employer. It has been expanded to include all other bargaining agents in the federal public service.
PSAC Represents First Responders
- PSAC understands the unique needs if first responders. We have fought and won allowances (pay increases) for correctional service, probation and law enforcement members. PSAC is working to ensure clerical workers in RCMP detachments receive the same pay increases as correctional service members, as well as additional counselling benefits to protect the wellbeing of first responders, given the stressful and, at times traumatic, normal conditions of employment.
- Our union will bargain and work with law enforcement leaders and rank-and-file members to negotiate better pay, benefits and protect the rights of officers, dispatchers and administrative staff. PSAC representation will consistently identify, resolve and reach consensus on professional and employment concerns. First responders organized by PSAC benefit from ameliorated work-life balance, reduced stress, more time off, more vacations and breaks between calls. .
- PSAC provides research, technical experts and leadership to all of our membership on health and safety and justice issues which affect not only law enforcement, but the quality of life of all Canadians. PSAC national and regional staff will research and identify emerging issues, such as PTSD, so we can remove hazards and resolve or prevent problems. This includes providing legal representation for situations that may arise on the job as well as maintaining public trust in law enforcement through community involvement, media and visibility.
- PSAC represents thousands of members across the country who are first responders. They work in law enforcement, security and public safety, including the Coast Guard, 5,000 RCMP workers, 8,000 Border Service officers, every federal law enforcement officer (occupational health and safety, food safety, environment, wildlife and fisheries, Parks Canada), 500 federal fire fighters and 70 employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
- PSAC represents over 200 police officers and civilian staff with the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Services Board and the Treaty Three Police Service.
- PSAC also represents 911 telecom operators in Moncton, NB.
PSAC Engages in Health and Safety Research
- PSAC collaborated in 2010 and 2015 on two different studies with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to closely examine the declining workplace safety among federal jurisdiction employers. The studies looked at the impact of government decisions on the enforcement of health and safety legislation. Highlights from the reports include:
- That while provincially regulated sectors improved in terms of health and safety incidents per employee, federally regulated sectors had actually become worse.
- There were too few workplace health and safety officers in the Labour Program at the Department of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC aka as the inspectorate).
- The fatality rate has not really improved.
- The ratio of workers to inspectors in the federally regulated sector has increased substantially. It is physically impossible for inspectors to do the regular inspection work required. Human resources are so strained that when multiple crises happen at the same time inspectors have to be brought in from other regions.
- At the same time, in 2013, amendments to the Canada Labour Code hidden in a budget bill reduced the power of health and safety inspectors and critically weakened the definition of workplace “danger”, which can be used by employees to refuse unsafe work.
- These changes, combined with the dismantling of the tripartite oversight committees for health and safety, have a left the system much diminished in its regulatory oversight powers.
- PSAC National Health and Safety Officers take on the leading cases involving our many inspectors employed at The Department of Employment and Social Development Canada-Labour Programs and our law enforcement officers in other departments. These cases are complex in nature and may take years to resolve.
PSAC Health and Safety Representation Wins
- PSAC provided representation on the 10-year long case involving Parks Canada Law Enforcement Officers. The health and safety complaint by a Banff park warden ultimately resulted in Parks Canada wardens getting handguns for their own protection.
- PSAC defended the Health and Safety Inspector who first investigated the Parks Canada complaint that the unarmed wardens were working in unsafe conditions. The inspector successfully won his complaint made under the Canada Labour Code that he had been unlawfully threatened with termination, penalty or disciplinary action just for having done his job.
- Other important cases where PSAC provided representation include:
- A Canada Border Service Agency case involving full name disclosure on name tags.
- Canadian Food Inspection Agency leading case on the appointment of a ‘’competent person’’ to investigate psychological violence under the federal regulation (Violence Prevention Regulations that we actually help draft in the early 2000s).
- Public Works and Government Services Canada prosecution case following the fatal boiler explosion to a PSAC member in October 2009 in Ottawa.
- PSAC was the main party pressuring the federal government to ban the use of asbestos in any new construction and renovation projects. Our long-standing lobbying campaign also lead to the establishment of a public inventory of asbestos-containing buildings within Public Services and Procurement Canada (Previously PWGSC) and now being expanded to other departments.