The National Police Federation (NPF) filed a complaint with the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board on Tuesday, Feb. 14 claiming that restrictions on the use of internal RCMP email has interfered with its ability to meaningfully organize a representative employee organization.
“Our members have told us repeatedly that they are frustrated about the order that prevents them from receiving information from organizing groups through the internal RCMP system,” said Brian Sauvé, co-chair of the National Police Federation. “Our members are spread out across the country, often in small and remote communities.”
According to Sauvé, most don’t use social media and are protective of their private email addresses because of the nature of their work.
“This restriction substantially hampers our ability to provide information and solicit membership.”
Police officers, including almost 18,000 members of the RCMP, are increasingly concerned about their personal and family safety so many do not participate in social media and are protective of personal emails.
According to Sauvé, some, like air marshals or undercover officers, are compelled to protect their identify so they can effectively serve the public and safeguard their families.
This need for privacy coupled with the force’s geographic and size diversity makes it particularly challenging to communicate effectively with RCMP officers without access to RCMP communications tools.
“National representation is a critical opportunity for RCMP members, who have been underpaid and under-resourced for far too long. My co-chairs and I believe that the RCMP should provide an opportunity for all organizations vying to represent members to effectively communicate the relevant benefits and key considerations,” said Sauvé. “We are committed to looking out for the best interests of all RCMP members and we see open communication as a key component.”
Digital communication is particularly important to reach members working in remote areas, and in smaller detachments, as well as those serving outside of Canada.
The NPF has held more than 60 townhall-style meetings across Canada over the last 10 months, has a dedicated website, and is active on social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but for many RCMP members these efforts are inadequate and internal email is the only viable tool to share information given the nature of their work.