Shortage of personnel, overwork, obsolete equipment… Employees of the 911 central in the agglomeration of Longueuil are launching an emergency call to “denounce the inaction of decision-makers in the face of a situation that has persisted for years”.
In 2018, two investigations conducted by external firms at the request of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) “came to the same conclusion: there is a problem”, it is said in a press release released on September 4.
Lack of manpower would lead to overwork, as many employees are frequently forced to work overtime.
“It’s not an easy job, it requires maximum concentration. It puts employees under daily stress, ”said union adviser Dominic Laforest in an interview with Southern Mail.
They are also refused vacations and leaves provided for in the collective agreement by their employer, the Service de police de l’Aglomération de Longueuil (SPAL), since there are too few temporary employees who can replace them. This situation pushes some employees to exhaustion and psychological distress, deplores the Union.
“We are told by the employer that these are cashable leaves, that if they cannot take them, they will be reimbursed. But our members don’t want money. They want breaks from time to time, to recharge their battery, ”says the rep.
“They can’t take it anymore.”
– Dominic Laforest, union advisor
Retention and obsolete equipment
CUPE also raises an issue of employee retention.
“We are told that 15 people will be hired, but at the end of the training, ultimately, there are one or two left. And often, they don’t stay, ”says Mr. Laforest.
“We have more and more permanent employees who are thinking of leaving because they are no longer capable,” he adds.
The obsolete equipment with which the employees of the power station, which serves the cities of Longueuil, Boucherville, Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Saint-Lambert must contend with, are also part of the problem denounced by the Union.
“Sometimes the system can freeze and it takes a long time to give the information to the police,” explains Mr. Laforest. A chance that our members are imaginative and professional and that they are nevertheless able to ensure the safety of citizens. ”
After the conclusion of the two inquiries in 2018, the Union had met the employer three times. He then submitted an action plan for long-term changes.
“Despite their good intentions, nothing has changed,” laments Dominic Laforest.
The union party therefore asked to meet with the director of the Longueuil agglomeration police service (SPAL), Fady Dagher. The meeting took place on July 2.
“He was very correct, met us, listened to us, submitted proposals,” said the union adviser. He proposed to form a special committee with people from 911, but as of today, this committee has still not been set up, ”he indicates.
“So far, unfortunately, it hasn’t changed much. What we want is to work with them and find solutions as quickly as possible. We are available. Something has to happen, ”he concludes.
SPAL in the hiring process
For its part, the SPAL said it was aware of the lack of employees at the 911 central.
“When we fell into emergency measures, there was a change in the schedule. They worked twelve hour shifts, reports the captain of the communications and media relations section, Claudine Després. There was no time off or vacation allowed at that time. Of course, that puts more pressure on the employees, we are aware of that. “
However, the SPAL is currently in the process of hiring in order to train “as many people as possible as quickly as possible”, she indicates.
“It’s always a problem to find good candidates for that,” explains Ms. Després. It’s not an easy job, it’s a super important job because it’s the first link between citizens and the police on the road. It takes on special qualities. So far, things have been going well, but of course we appeal to people if they want to send their resumes. ”
She also mentions that the telecommunications attendant training has been revised so that candidates are “more comfortable and efficient more quickly”.
Requests are also underway to the City regarding obsolete equipment.
As for the discussion table on the work climate that it was agreed to set up, Ms. Després indicates that “it is in the plans”, but that everything has been slowed down due to COVID and the holidays summer.