An officer with the Valleyview RCMP detachment was one of several members that attended a meeting with Peace River-Westlock MP Arnold Viersen last week.
Corporal James Smith says the gathering was organized by the officers to bring light to issues surrounding wages and working conditions and in particular, what they say is a lack of a back-fill strategy by the force to fill temporary vacancies.
“If a member has to take some sort of leave, which happens all of the time in the RCMP – whether it is a paternity leave or sick leave – we do not get any back-fill bodies for those positions. So, we have to do more with less.”
Corporal Smith says that leads to the officer’s caseload being spread out and added to his or her colleagues’ existing work.
He feels that leads to officers being over-stretched, over-worked, and fatigued.
“We are really feeling like we are burning out here. And I have seen this slowly evolve and getting worse for a number of years. And if it the trend continues to where it is getting, I don’t know where it is headed, because it is not sustainable anymore.”
Corporal Smith says he is noticing signs of fatigue and frustration in members with as little as two years of service.
He admits he is worried about the consequences he could face for speaking out about these issues. But he adds he is more worried about what might continue to happen if he did not speak out.