City needs to address 'longstanding workplace issues' at Longueuil's 911 emergency line: union

File photo. (Oleg Magni / Pexels)

The union representing workers at Longueuil’s 911 emergency line is calling on decision-makers to take action to correct what it says are longstanding workplace issues.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) said in a release on Friday that despite well-documented evidence of these issues, the city has done little to address the concerns of the 911 line’s 50-or-so employees.

It cites a shortage of staff, difficult labour relations, outdated equipment and a lack of employee training as the main issues – which it says results in psychological distress among those who occupy the positions. The union says for these reasons, the city hasn't been able to retain employees.

According to the release, the issues were recorded following two independent investigations conducted in 2018.

"No municipal administration has been able to fix this situation over the course of the past eight years," it reads.

The release says union representatives are eager to work with the city to find solutions that will benefit everyone.

In an interview with CTV News, a spokesperson from the Service de police de l’agglomeration de Longueuil (SPAL) said an action plan was created in collaboration with the union following the 2018 investigations and for that reason, the city was surprised to see the union’s release.

Some of the work slowed down due to COVID-19, said SPAL communications captain Claudine Despres, but not before some changes were implemented.

“There are still things that were put in place,” she said. “We saw the arrival of new management, which contributed to the improvement of the workplace environment.”

“They enhanced training for new distributors,” Despres added. “We can’t forget that this work is hard work, we have had a hard time finding candidates to fill these positions.”

Depres said that employee retention is sometimes difficult because of the positions' abnormal working hours.

“It’s a 24-hour work schedule – it’s days, evenings and nights,” she said. “Sometimes, people aren’t expecting that when they apply.”

Other times, existing employees eventually leave to find day jobs for a better work-life balance, Despres said. 

She added that certain things in the union’s statement – like outdated equipment – are currently being studied by the city.

“Is the situation perfect, is everything fixed? No,” Despres said. “But there have been improvements.”

The 911 line -- a key service for the Longueuil police -- covers the cities of Longueuil, Boucherville, Brossard, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Saint-Lambert.  

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