April 9-15 is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, but RCMP telecom operators and dispatchers say there isn’t much cause for celebration in what they are calling a time of crisis and emergency. 

 “When it comes to understaffing, the situation is critical,” says Kathleen Hippern, President of CUPE 104, which represents 1,100 telecom operators and dispatchers at the RCMP. “Right now, forty per cent of positions are vacant. In some regional offices, staffing levels are less than half of what’s required to keep our communities safe. The situation isn’t just bad, it’s jeopardizing public safety.” 

 An internal survey of CUPE 104 members paints a stark picture:  

  • 93% report that staff shortages meant increase in their own workload; 
  • 84% report their workload is unsustainable; 
  • 86% report they are considering leaving their job; 
  • 96% say that the employer is not doing enough to retain workers. 

 “The RCMP is sending contradictory signals. On one hand, they say they want to recruit more workers. But on the other hand, they aren’t working to retain the workers who are already here,” continued Hippern. “The RCMP is dragging its feet when it comes to adopting a real strategy for recruitment, and to offer better health and safety at work. We are overworked, undervalued, and underpaid.”  

 “The RCMP wants to celebrate its 150th but, for our part, we don’t have much to celebrate.”  

 “When we compare to the exact same work done by police operators and dispatchers in major cities in Canada, the RCMP workers make on average approximately $25,000 less per year. Retention is becoming more and more difficult.”