Northern Ontario First Nations police service set to strike

Issues include staffing levels, wages

A strike could soon hit Northern Ontario communities served by the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS).

The Public Service Alliance of Canada's (PSAC) negotiators recently met with a conciliator to work out an agreement with the service.

A deal could not be reached and PSAC has now asked the Ontario Labour Relations Board to file a no-board report, allowing for a legal strike or lock-out within 17 days, according to the union.

Several key issues remain including safety of officers who often work alone in remote locations of the province, often without backup.

"Low staffing levels and outdated equipment put officers in danger, along with the communities they service", said Jason Storkson, a police officer and local union president.

NAPS officers have been trying to enforce an arbitrator's 2015 decision, so salaries would come in line with OPP counterparts.

NAPS officers are calling for increased staffing and want health and safety issues addressed.

"NAPS officers protect two thirds of Ontario, a geographic area larger than many countries in the world,” said Sharon DeSousa, PSAC regional executive vice president for Ontario. “Why should they work in conditions that would not be tolerated by any other police force in Canada?"

NAPS officers provide culturally-sensitive policing services in 35 First Nation communities from Thunder Bay to Hudson's Bay.


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