31st annual Police and Peace Officers Memorial Service
Ottawa (29 Sept 2008) – Following two days of meetings, delegates at a Working Session for Correctional Officers and Youth Facility Workers joined thousands of other peace and police officers on Parliament Hill Sunday for the annual Canadian Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Service.
Nearly 4,000 officers from across the country participated in the ceremony, held each year on the last Sunday in September.
On the first morning of the working session, James Clancy, president of the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) provided an overview of the issues that NUPGE is working hard to advance on behalf of correctional officers and youth facility workers.
Topics discussed during the meetings included concerns about health and safety on the job, the growing crisis of overcrowding in correctional facilities across Canada and a troubling increase in the number of people with mental illnesses being incarcerated.
|More than 4,000 from every part of Canada|
|Standing in silent memory of fallen police and peace officers|
|NUPGE delegates taking part in correctional workshop and Parliament Hill memorial|
|NUPGE President James Clancy with Nadja Salson
of the European Federation of Public Services Unions
A special guest this year was Nadja Salson, a representative of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), who spoke on the European prison system.
In particular, she outlined problems associated with private prisons in the U.K. and with public-private-partnerships (P3s) in France, Germany and Hungary.
She described the U.K. as "a special case" of privatization failing to meet objectives. There are 11 private jails in the U.K. and they have "the worst record in terms of overcrowding, working and living conditions and recidivism rate,” she said.
Yet the forces of privatization remain strong because of a vigorous "corporate lobby to privatize (more facilities), led by a handful of multinationals from the U.K., U.S., and France,” she noted.
Salson said one way in which the EPSU and its affiliates successfully focused attention on these problems was the staging of a European Action Day against prison overcrowding, held in February 2008. The event attracted widespread participation and support from more than 10 countries.
This year's ceremonies marked the 31st year that the sacrifice of fallen police and peace officers has been observed with national observances on Parliament Hill.
Delegates from NUPGE's working session stood at attention during the solemn and tearful gathering.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day joined in honouring the memory of Douglas A. Scott and Christopher J. Worden, two RCMP constables who in recent months gave their lives in the line of duty. Their names have now been etched on the glass panels that stretch along the west perimeter wall of Parliament Hill, adjacent to a Memorial Pavilion. The panels now hold the names of 744 fallen officers.
In 1998, the federal government officially proclaimed the last Sunday of each September as Police and Peace Officers’ National Memorial Day. The service gives Canadians an opportunity to express appreciation for the dedication and ultimate sacrifice of police and peace officers on the job. NUPGE