Good morning, honourable members of the parliamentary committee, Chair.
My name is Rae Banwarie. I am the President of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada. Thank you for the opportunity to address the committee regarding Bill C-7.
I have been involved in the pursuit of collective bargaining and unionization of the RCMP since 2007. MPPAC is a national, non-profit police association comprising regular members and civilian members of the RCMP in every region of the country. We're seeking to become the certified bargaining agent for all non-commissioned members of the RCMP.
I will begin by speaking to some of the amendments we would like to see in Bill C-7 that are found in our brief, which everybody has. We are compared to civil servants in this piece of legislation. The restrictions found in Bill C-7 are from the PSLRA. Why, is the first question? We are not civil servants, yet we're being compared to civil servants. We are a national police agency and should be compared to large police agencies like the OPP, Sûreté du Québec, Toronto metro, Vancouver PD, or Winnipeg Police.
I'll talk about some of the points on page 2 of our brief. As everyone knows, and has been made painfully aware, we continue to lose members of the RCMP. We've had incidents like Mayerthorpe, Moncton, and St. Albert. The list goes on and on. In all of these incidents the components of inadequate resourcing, inadequate training, and inadequate equipment have caused death and injury to our members. The recent four charges still pending in Moncton support this fact.
Why would we have a collective agreement that will continue to place our members' safety and that of the communities we police at risk? When we undermine the member resourcing, the equipment, and the training by not having proper measures in place to safeguard these critical parts of our policing, we're placing our membership at risk and everybody in every community that we police at risk.
We're seeking to have minimum staffing levels. For example, article 22 of the collective agreement of one of the biggest police agencies, the Toronto Police Service, talks about minimum resourcing. That's contained in the brief. We're looking for the ability to have that covered in the collective agreement.
We are also seeking to remove the reference to equipment and their restrictions on the scope of bargaining found in this bill and to add new provisions to address this in a collective agreement. We have amendments that we suggested on page 3 of our brief.
We conducted a national survey for our membership. We did a snapshot of approximately 1,000 members: our members and civilian members who are not part of MPPAC. We have the results, and 94% of the membership we surveyed say they want this as part of their collective agreement: just this one point. That's significant.
I'll move on now to harassment. Canadians sadly have become aware of the issues of harassment, which continue to plague the RCMP. There is a class action in the certification process in British Columbia with over 400 past and current female members of the force. There is another class action led by Linda Davidson, which is seeking $500 million in damages.
There have been multiple cases over the past decades of harassment. Why would a significant issue such as this—which has caused harm to our members and led in many cases to PTSD, sickness, depression, occupational stress injuries, and in some cases, suicides—not be brought under a collective agreement, so that it can be dealt with in an open and transparent manner? Binding arbitration has a potential component for redressing these situations, just like our core values in the RCMP of transparency and openness.
Without harassment being included in the collective agreement, we are essentially assisting in furthering this issue and allowing it to reproduce and flourish in the RCMP. This issue goes directly to the culture of the RCMP, and we have to address it. If we don't address it, we're setting up our organization to continue to fail.
We must delete the reference to “including harassment” in proposed paragraph 238.19(c) of this legislation that we're studying today. I believe it can be brought and should be brought under a collective agreement so we can start to mitigate it and deal with it.
Our recommendations are found on page 3 of our brief.
That is my portion. I will turn the rest of the presentation over to Lee Keane, my director.