Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
the shortage of RCMP personnel across the country could create safety risk for members, according to the National Federation for RCMP officers.
An August 14, 2017 story on the CTV news website cited the RCMP’s own statistics on its vacancy rates for this year and 2018. More than 12% of officer positions are unfilled across Canada – a figure that jumps up to nearly 17% for the Ottawa region and almost 14% for the National division. About 5.5% of members are on either sick leave or a parental leave.
Brian Sauvé, the interim executive co-chair of the National Police Federation and an RCMP sergeant currently on leave, says the force has been short of personnel for years. The RCMP concluded as far back as 2012 that it was 5000 members short. Unlike in big cities like Burnaby, British Columbia, the percentage of lost human resources in a rural area is greater.
“The workload is no different between Burnaby and smaller spots,” Sauvé says. “You end up with higher percentages of vacancies, which puts the added stress on those who are showing up to work and still healthy to make up the shortfall.” As a result, these officers are more likely to experience exhaustion, operational stress injuries and reduced resilience to trauma.
In the prairies and New Brunswick, it is not unusual for one officer to cover a patrol commander of several hundred kilometres. “There is the danger to the employee, member, of going somewhere alone and not having a backup for an hour or an hour and a half.”
Fatigue is another issue in these cases. “Is that police officer well-rested enough and in the right mind to make the proper decisions responding to and at that particular call?” Sauvé suggests that more aggressive recruiting strategies and reduction of individual officers’ duties as way to deal with the staffing issues. In addition, the RCMP could try to persuade retiring members to go back on the job on as as-needed basis and even recruit internationally.
“There is no overnight fix,” says Sauvé.
It is quite a coincidence that I am completing a course from the University of Fredericton that directly impacts the story listed above.
(An introduction to Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace)
There is a section explaining the importance of maintaining the mental, physical and emotional well-being of a workplace.
Listed under “Benefits of Psychologically Healthy Workplaces” it states,
Psychologically healthy organizations benefit from:
- increased employee productivity; increased retention of key personnel; improved ability to recruit strong talent; enhance bottom-line
Employees in psychologically healthy organizations are:
- more engaged in the work they do; happier and healthier; more likely to expend discretionary effort; more loyal to their workplace
In other words, the cost of NOT having a psychologically healthy will be greater in the long run.
I remember General Motors, in Oshawa, allowed workers the use of space to have a gym. The long-term impact to the company was unexpected but greatly appreciated. Workers were coming to work healthier and were using the facilities regularly. They would only have been able to do so if they showed up for work. By the way, the fully stocked gym was only $100.00 a year. (You would come in, too)
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.