BURNABY, BC, July 14, 2015 /CNW/ - The B.C. Government and Service
Employees' Union released two reports today showing that 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 that
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 that 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
Another report by the Society of B.C. Conservation Officers assesses
staffing levels from 2001 to 2012 and notes that 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
"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 9 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. News coverage of the event has reached
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.
SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
For further information:
contact Chris Bradshaw at 604-369-8411 or 604-291-9611