Madam Speaker, much has changed since I asked my question about Bill C-7 last spring. The government accepted the Senate's amendments to the bill, and the legislation came into force last week.
However, the problems at the RCMP and at other federal law enforcement agencies across the country have not changed at all. In my riding of Kootenay—Columbia, at least two of our detachments are at 50% of their full complement. Many others are short-staffed and are working with outdated equipment.
Why is this so? It is because under the previous Conservative government and continuing with the current Liberal government, budget cuts have been aimed squarely at RCMP members on the ground. The Conservatives even increased the amount RCMP officers had to pay for their medical benefits.
In New Brunswick last week, we saw the RCMP itself convicted of failing to provide its members with the weapons and training needed when responding to an active shooter tragedy. That failure contributed to the loss of three officers, and resulted in other officers being injured.
The RCMP is losing members to provincial and municipal forces where they receive better pay, better equipment, and better treatment. It takes incredible commitment for any officer to stay with a force that cuts their benefits, and will not keep up with critical equipment and training needs or offer them the respect they so rightly deserve. I thank them for their commitment.
Until the passage of Bill C-7, the RCMP was the only police force in Canada not to be unionized, and even with the bill's passing, RCMP members will be forbidden from taking their grievances to the Public Service Labour Relations Board and from engaging in negotiating tactics such as strikes.
Sadly, the lack of respect paid to our RCMP officers is not an isolated situation. I spoke recently about our border security officers, who have been without a contract for more than three years and whom the government refuses to recognize as federal law enforcement officers. Canada's corrections officers have gone without a contract for almost four years. They were recently on Parliament Hill lobbying for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. The federal government, however, does not consider them to be first responders and will not require provinces to pay for their PTSD treatment where it is currently not offered.
Right here, a few feet from where we are sitting in the House of Commons, officers of the Parliamentary Protective Service, those women and men who work to protect us and our visitors, are once again protesting the government's refusal to negotiate a new contract with them in good faith.
Last spring, our parliamentary officers signed an agreement to back off on their quiet protests in exchange for fair negotiations. Oddly, that happened just in time for the Canada 150 celebration here on the Hill. However, the government now refuses to negotiate in good faith, and we are once again seeing these officers wearing green hats to protest their treatment.
There is a crisis in federal law enforcement, a crisis made by successive Conservative and Liberal governments who have refused to honour all those officers who put their lives on the line for us, every day. It is unacceptable to those officers. It is unacceptable to Canadians. I would hope that it is unacceptable to the members of the House and to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.