Union says cutting 14 deputy sheriff jobs in Saskatchewan will jeopardize safety
By The Canadian PressNews Public Sector
REGINA — The union representing deputy sheriffs says 14 jobs have been cut at courthouses in Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, North Battleford and Weyburn.
The deputy sheriffs screen people entering a courthouse, operate detention areas, escort prisoners inside the courthouse, provide courtroom security and transport prisoners by vehicle.
Saskatchewan Government and General Employees’ Union president Bob Bymoen says losing the deputy sheriffs will jeopardize public safety.
“It means a lot less security in the courthouses, is where this is heading,” Bymoen said Wednesday.
“The level of professionalism when it comes to the security for the courthouses has been reduced significantly and that’s a concern. It’s a concern for all the workers in the courthouses and the general public, and for our workers on the front end, as well.”
The union says deputy sheriffs carry firearms.
Bymoen says it’s his understanding that the work will be contracted out to commissionaires who don’t have the same level of training and are not armed.
Justice Minister Gord Wyant says 16 positions will be cut, disputing the union number.
He says those are perimeter security staff, the workers who screen people entering courthouses. The justice minister says they are not currently armed.
“We not dealing with the in-court security and we’re not dealing with prisoner transport,” Wyant said at the legislature.
Wyant says whoever wins the contract to replace the deputy sheriffs will need to meet stringent requirements.
But he wants them to do the job for less money. He won’t say how much the province is hoping to save.
“We want to make sure, of course, that there’s adequate security at the courthouse,” he said.
“But I think if we provide that service to the courthouse in a more cost effective way — providing of course that we can continue to ensure the safety and security of those that use the courthouse — I think that’s a responsible use of taxpayers money.”
A government spokeswoman said in an email that an armed deputy sheriff will solely to surveillance at the entrance of courthouses.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2016
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