The Emergency and Security Services (ESS) sector is made up of paramedic, police, correctional, security and fire service workers. Within CUPE, the vast majority of ESS workers are paramedic workers – paramedics, communication officers, administrative, maintenance and support staff. CUPE is the largest union of paramedic or emergency medical (EMS) staff in Canada, representing nearly 11,350 workers. Our members include all paramedic staff in British Columbia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; most paramedic staff in Ontario; and some paramedic staff in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
CUPE also represents over 2,000 employees in fire and police operations, including approximately 1,000 administrative and dispatch employees in Quebec and several hundred more in British Columbia. Some police officers, firefighters, and correctional officers are CUPE members in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. CUPE represents almost 900 employees working with the RCMP. Finally, several hundred members in Quebec work in the field of secure transportation.
Police, correctional and fire services are coping with growing demands. Police are facing increased scrutiny, including independent police reviews, higher policing standards and calls for better ways to deal with mentally ill persons and calls for defunding and reform. While changes are coming, governments are not always prepared to fund the training required to meet these new standards, leaving police officers in some jeopardy. In fire services, increased standards can be difficult to deal with because they are sometimes unevenly applied, partially as a result of the mix of permanent and volunteer firefighting services.