Deputy Sheriffs Dept of Justice – Sheriff Services Adjudication Hearing Update

As you may know, NSGEU has been advocating for the department to address the staffing crisis within Sheriff Services. Following a recommendation from the OHS Report, also known as the Beaton Report, a review of the staffing model was conducted through an independent, outside consultant (the Barrington Consulting Group). They prepared a staffing deployment analysis (the Barrington Report). The report was released February 6, 2017. The Barrington Report contained a number of recommendations. One of them is at p.41, and states as follows:

“As can be seen in the tables above, the proposed model recommends the addition of 51 permanent full-time front-line staff, the addition of 15 new program and operational support roles and the reduction of 48 part-time roles (relief + part-time), resulting in a net increase of 18 positions.”

The Employer decided that it would not implement the staffing model proposed in the Barrington Report. The Employer decided to conduct an updated staffing analysis that would be site specific before it made any final decision as to staffing levels. The review was started in July 2018. The Employer expected the data collection to be completed by the end of February 2019, with a final decision based on that review to come some time in the late spring.

NSGEU filed a policy grievance when the Employer chose not to implement the recommendations of the Barrington Group on January 8th, 2018. An adjudication hearing was set for April 16th, 17th and 18th, 2019. Recently, your Employer made application for an adjournment to the arbitrator. NSGEU through its counsel opposed this adjournment.  Our position was clear to the arbitrator:

“The Policy Grievance concerns critical issues of employee health and safety. Where a matter concerns health and safety/ delay must be assiduously avoided. The Barrington Report was commissioned by Sheriff Services in response to the concerns raised in the Beaton Report. The Beaton Report on occupational health and safety was completed in March 2015. The Union’s members have therefore, faced known and acknowledged risk caused or aggravated by understaffing for at least four years. The Union considers any delay adjudicating or otherwise resolving this matter to constitute an unnecessary increase in the daily risk of harm undertaken by its members.”

However, the arbitrator decided in favour of the Employer and granted the adjournment but that the adjournment would be rescheduled as soon as reasonably possible. New dates for the hearing have now been scheduled for July 17th, 18th, 19th, 2019. In the meantime, NSGEU strongly recommends that members report any safety concerns to the Employer. NSGEU would also remind our members that under Section 43(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, “Any employee may refuse to do any act at the employee’s place of employment where the employee has reasonable grounds for believing that the act is likely to endanger the employee’s heath or safety or the health or safety of any other person.”

In solidarity,

Dustin Rioux

Employee Relations Officer

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