Beginning November 1, Fish and Wildlife officers will have to respond to life-threatening situations, including homicides, mass shootings and domestic violence calls in rural areas. But the province says their classification and pay rates won’t be altered to reflect the job they’re being asked to do.
According to Alberta Union of Provincial Employees Vice President, Mike Dempsey, it was intended to be a part of a RAPID force rural-crime initiative to help combat the increasing crime in rural areas. Dempsey says Fish and Wildlife officers would essentially be responding to 911 calls, much like the RCMP. But he says the province is now insulting these officers by asking them to put their lives at risk without paying them to do it.
"The plan also had in writing that this is now much more dangerous work than you (the officers) were doing before," says Dempsey, who goes on to say that the province told the officers it would remunerate them comparable to the RCMP.
"So on average an RCMP officer would make $15,000 to $25,000 a year more," he says. "This is highly dangerous work, it's the kind of work that when the RCMP do it - it's (got) the highest divorce rates, the highest PTSD levels, and that sort of thing."
"So about a week ago," continues Dempsey, "the pay bans were put out and the government said 'oh, we looked at the work you guys are going to be doing helping the RCMP and it's really not that much different than you were doing before so we're not going to pay you any more, sorry. So...broken promise, boom," says Dempsey.
Bridge City News reached out to the province and they told us in an email that, "Alberta’s Public Service Commission completed a job classification review finding the additional duties would not substantively change the job function. With new work we know adjustments may be made and if there are substantive changes to the job descriptions after six months they can be submitted for review," said Jerrica Goodwin, Treasury Board and Finance press secretary.