The impact of the harassment, bullying, and high stress because of the work environment is outrageous, and Edmonton's not alone. It's across Canada. It's happening in B.C. It's happening in Ontario. It's happening in Quebec. It's been happening for decades. My opinion is that it's the tip of the iceberg. For what you see above the water, there's a huge mass below.
It affects the rehabilitation if you're being harassed by co-workers or dealing with dysfunctional inmates. On a regular basis, inmates would threaten to kill me. I'd even have them say, “I know where you live.” At a certain level, you put it to the back of your head, but no one who works in CSC is the same 20 years later. It might be similar with police officers.
When I went to get on a plane to come here, there was a nice sign, something to the effect of “If you're rude, we can refuse service.” I would actually like that in my office, but then I would have no one in my caseload.
Someone once said, "Zef, do you have Tourette's?” I said, “No. I just swear a lot.”
You acclimatize to your environment to some extent. Harassment and bullying, I would say, are rampant and need to be dealt with. CSC has made strides, but it's a very big issue.
Then there's working in the environment itself. People think there are guards, the correctional officers, and inmates. That's not how it works. There are those people, but the parole officer and the single mother who's the clerk are also on the unit with 120 inmates. They say it's a medium security prison, but some medium security prisons have more lifers than the maximums do. They have our biggest riots, for example in the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, where it was somewhat linked to the food issue, maybe. There are a variety of issues. Drumheller penitentiary was burned down. Those were medium security.
I'm used to going in, but they're very high-stress places. The paperwork is almost overbearing on the front-line staff, and doing that extra work interferes with casework. I mean, the POs are being asked to organize weddings, and I ask, “Well, which do you do?” Do you pick housing and get someone at housing to organize another offender's...? There's this piling of good ideas.
Anyway, there are harassment issues and a high-stress environment, and they've had a detrimental effect on the front-line staff and the offenders.