My name is Karine Lebel, and I work as an administrative assistant for the Personnel Support Program (PSP) in Bagotville, Quebec. I’m an employee of the Non-Public Funds (NPF). The recreation centre where I work supports the physical and mental health of military personnel and their families by offering sports, fitness and other recreational programs.
I’ve had this job for five years, as part of a small, dedicated team that contributes directly to the operational readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). We deserve more respect and recognition than we’re getting.
I was a CAF reservist for eight years before joining the Non-Public Funds staff. I can say that I know the CAF very well from several angles. I’ve benefited from PSP services in the past, and now I’m helping to provide them.
Here at Bagotville, the CAF members we work with recognize how important our work is to their well-being and health. But they don’t all know that we’re poorly paid. We’re often confused with public service workers.
In my role, I’ve forged close ties with my colleagues and members of the CAF. I feel I understand what people are going through and I’m proud to be able to support them. I’m part of a team!
During this round of bargaining with the employer, I would like to see acknowledgment that our wages are in desperate need of review. I know, talking about salaries is taboo. But we have to talk about them because I have people close to me who have to pinch pennies to afford groceries; their salaries just don’t keep up with the cost of living anymore. It makes us vulnerable.
As a union member, I want my team and my co-workers to be better treated and better paid. Yes, I could do this kind of work outside the military base, but I don’t want to leave. My family is here and the people I serve are here.