It goes without saying that this year has been a year like no other. COVID-19 continues to challenge us and our communities in every respect including our health, child/elder parent care-giving responsibilities, economy, mental health, workplaces, and the list goes on. I cannot be prouder to represent a most incredible group of people who continue to be heroes that are instrumental to Public and Officer safety.
I am hearing wonderful stories of people supporting their fellow colleagues within our group. Let’s keep being there for each other as this situation continues. It is important to try reaching out for help if you are struggling and it is just as important to reach out to others to check-in on them as they may not realize or be able to say that they are in crisis.
Mental health of first responders is becoming more and more a topic that is in the news and is well known but sadly inclusion of Public Safety Communicators (PSCs) in the first responder references is not prevalent. We have an opportunity to change that!
We as TOs and IMs are PSCs and PSCs are operational first responders. Moreover, this pandemic has proven that we are essential and critical services. PSCs need to be recognized formally as essential to public safety and as First Responders. Police officers, fire fighters, correctional officers and the like have a formal designation that is recognized in legislation and we do not.
We need statistics and research to support our stance and experiences. We need facts and figures to back us up if we want or say we need more mental health support, that we should have better compensation for what we do, that we shouldn’t work as many years as we do until retirement, etc.
There is research currently being done by a distinguished researcher out of Memorial University on PSCs and their mental health. We have an opportunity here to make a difference. I encourage everyone to consider doing this survey as the more info that is obtained the better. Information and link to this survey is found on our webpage (https://104.cupe.ca/2020/12/01/mental-health-study-for-public-safety-communicators-please-consider-participating/) and Facebook page.
Formal negotiations with the employer have begun! It will be a long process to get to our first collective agreement, but it is extremely exciting to say that it’s started.
Our Recording Secretary, affectionately known as Karen LK, has just stepped down from her CUPE 104 duties and has moved onwards and upwards from a very distinguished and long career with the Force. She will still be in the Public Service and serving in a critical role that supports Union and management relations and growth. Karen worked extremely hard for CUPE 104 from before its inception right until her very last day and was instrumental in getting us to where we are today. A very heartfelt thank-you to Karen for everything she has done and will continue to do for us as well as the whole of the greater public service in her new role.