CO working conditions unsafe

A look at the working conditions for conservation officers

  • Aug. 6, 2015 6:00 p.m.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union have released two reports showing the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) is chronically understaffed, resulting in unsafe working conditions for its officers.

A 2011 report by then-chief Conservation Officer Edward Illi states the single officer posts employed by the provincial government appear to contravene the Workers Compensation Act and the Canada Labour Code and “exposes officers and the government to risk.” The report also states  the COS “does not have adequate uniformed officers deployed throughout B.C.” and calls for an increase of 40 conservation officers in the short and medium term to achieve a “minimum deployable strength.”

Another report by the Society of B.C. Conservation Officers assesses staffing levels from 2001 to 2012 and notes the service lost 42 field officers in that time, a 32 per cent reduction in field staff. The report also chronicles a 70 per cent increase in problem wildlife calls and a 56 per cent increase in poaching and polluting calls since 2001.

“The B.C. government has known since 2011 that understaffing has created an unsafe work environment for conservation officers,” says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

“Their response has been to consolidate some single officer posts, while leaving large areas like Revelstoke without a local conservation officer.

“There are still nine single officer posts and 15 CO vacancies in a dangerously understaffed conservation officer service. This is unacceptable and clearly shows that the government must hire more officers to protect our members and the people of British Columbia.”

Bryce Casavant, the conservation officer who was suspended after following policy and not euthanizing two bear cubs, works in a single officer post in Port Hardy. Conservation Officers are peace officers charged with enforcing federal and provincial statutes related to environmental compliance and enforcement, shared stewardship and public safety. Changes to legislation have broadened COs responsibilities without any corresponding increase in staffing levels.

 

Just Posted

OPINION: MP Rachel Blaney takes aim at coastal fisheries restrictions

“We all share in the responsibility of taking care of our salmon habitats and populations”

Northern Vancouver Island regional science fair winners – 2019

Daniel Kornylo won one of the 12 provincial science fair awards.

North Island Eagles select head coaches for upcoming season

“We appreciate the commitment each of you make to the club and to your teams”

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Hardy Bay Senior Citizens’ new greenhouse

“if it wasn’t for the volunteers this project wouldn’t have happened”

Port Hardy Pride Day will arrive in September

Port Hardy will be celebrating Pride Day on Sept. 14 at Carrot Park.

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

LETTER: The constant growth of the Harvest thrift store and food bank

“we now serve the complete Northern end of Vancouver Island – everyone North of Woss!”

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

Police identify pair found dead along highway in northern B.C.

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

Justin Trudeau’s carbon footprint revealed in ranking of world leaders

Travel company ranks 15 world leaders’ foreign flight CO2 emissions

B.C. First Nation’s group using ads in Texas targeting company for fuel spill

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

Most Read