March 27, 2023

Federal corrections officers continue to fear for their safety due to the disbandment of local fire brigades in 2018, but are giving up their fight in court after being dismissed for a second time.

• Read also: Fed up with federal correctional officers

“For legal remedies, it stops there for us”, confirmed to the Log Frédérick Lebeau, national vice-president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers (SACC-CSN). According to him, the legal “room for manoeuvre” of union members had become insufficient.

In a decision last November, a Federal Court judge dismissed the motion for judicial review submitted by 87 correctional officers from the maximum security penitentiaries of Donnacona and Port-Cartier.

They were asking for a review of a decision of the Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal, which confirmed that the employees’ collective work refusal on May 3, 2018, on the grounds that their safety would be compromised, was not justified.

According to the Tribunal, the employer’s procedures “appear sufficient and adequate” and the likelihood of the threat has not been established.

The union not reassured

“We think it leaves a void. It’s happened in the past, institutional fires. It can still happen and we think that there can be serious consequences after that, ”reacted Mr. Lebeau, however ruling out new means of pressure.

The internal fire brigades (BI) were made up of volunteer employees. Their purpose was to help control the fires while waiting for the arrival of the municipal firefighters.

On May 3, 2018, correctional officers in Donnacona and Port-Cartier refused to work under a section of the Canada Labor Code following their abolition by Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), saying that this situation could put in danger.

Abolition maintained

The CSC “welcomes the decision of the Federal Court” and intends to maintain the abolition of the brigades, commented the federal agency by email.

This change “was the result of several consultations, including with unions, following progressive improvements in fire detection and control equipment which have significantly reduced the associated risks,” a spokeswoman said.

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